Leclerc starts on pole for Mexican Grand Prix with Verstappen third

If Max Verstappen wants to set a new record 16th race win in an F1 season in Mexico, he’ll have to do so from third on the grid after Ferrari locked out the front row.

Charles Leclerc went fastest in Saturday’s qualifying session as Carlos Sainz finished 0.067s behind him. 

A surprise P4 for Daniel Ricciardo gave AlphaTauri plenty to cheer about, while Red Bull’s Sergio Perez could only deliver his adoring home crowd a fifth-place finish in Q3.

While Lewis Hamilton and George Russell secured sixth and eighth respectively, the biggest shock of the day saw Lando Norris struggle to line up 19th on the grid.

The Sporting News was following qualifying live and providing updates below.

WATCH: Stream the Mexican Grand Prix on ESPN+ in the U.S.

* Eliminated after Q2

** Eliminated after Q1

^ Will start the race with an academic 10-place grid penalty

END OF Q3: Ferrari have a front row lockout! Who saw that coming!?

We’ll have to wait and see if Verstappen, Hamilton and Russell are given any penalties that sees a slight grid reshuffle once the respective teams have pleaded their case to the FIA.

1 min left of Q3: Neither Ferrari are improving on their final laps… but Verstappen is!

2 mins left of Q3: Remember, Verstappen, Russell and Hamilton are all under investigation still so expect a few changes come the end of qualifying!

5 mins left of Q3: Verstappen is third fastest at present with Ricciardo sat in fourth. Guanyu bides his time in the pits but is now out on track and free of traffic.

8 mins left of Q3: A Ferrari 1-2 to get us started… where did that pace come from!? Leclerc leads Sainz. 

Q3 is underway! 

END OF Q2: A frantic final lap for many but here’s who’s out:

Zhou had finished 11th but Albon’s final lap time was deleted for exceeding track limits so he misses out on Q3.

1 min left of Q2: Hulkenberg moves out of the bottom five. Alonso is definitely out of Q2.

3 mins left of Q2: Alonso, Gasly and Hulkenberg are all in the elimination zone. Ricciardo is enjoying himself and is currently third fastest, one position behind Piastri.

6 mins left of Q2: Albon’s still saying something isn’t right with his car and it looks like he’ll need something special to make it through. He’s 11th. Tsunoda is yet to set a time and is in the pits.

10 mins left of Q2: Verstappen and Perez are delivering the goods for the Mexican crowd so far as take first and second spot. Russell is third fastest and Hamilton just behind.

Q2 is underway! Verstappen and Russell will be looked at for stopping in the pit lane while Alonso is being investigated for impeding. Hamilton and Sargeant have been noted by the stewards for failing to slow under a yellow flags.

END OF Q1: A yellow flag courtesy of an Alonso spin brings up a chaotic ending. Here’s who’s out:

1 min left of Q1: “The tyres are completely gone,” says Albon over the team radio. It’s not looking good. Ocon, Stroll and Magnussen are all in the danger zone, as is Norris.

3 mins left of Q1: Sargeant has his lap time deleted for exceeding track limits. Norris is out on softs and in need of a quick time… but his first effort is only food enough for 19th! Teammate Piastri goes second fastest behind leader Verstappen.

7 mins left of Q1: Albon’s going slower than what we saw in fine practice and needs to find another gear or risk some early disappointment. He’s currently 13th fastest. Norris is yet to set a time too.

10 mins left of Q1: It’s the third shortest lap of the year after Monaco and Brazil here so we’ll see some quick lap times. Red Bull lead the top two spots so far and Hamilton is third fastest on the medium tyres. Piastri is on the radio admitting he’s having a few problems early on.

Start of Q1: We’re underway!

5 mins to start of qualifying: Nearly time for lights out. Plenty of Mexico flags in the stands… not sure if that will help calm Perez’s nerves or put extra pressure on him!

20 mins to start of qualifying: Whatever happens in qualifying, Ferrari will be hoping it results in a better outcome than FP3.

A frustrating first practice saw Charles Leclerc back out of his qualifying session when he encountered a slow-moving Kevin Magnussen on the racing line, while Carlos Sainz spun when trying to avoid a slow Lance Stroll in the same spot.

Leclerc came in 13th and Sainz 15th… plenty of room for improvement!

40 mins to start of qualifying: Unsurprisingly, Verstappen came out on top in final practice a few hours ago but there was a surprise package in Alex Albon.

The Williams driver finished second — only 0.07 seconds behind the three-time world champion — that will give him plenty of confidence going into qualifying.

F1 qualifying results, starting grid for 2023 Mexican Grand Prix as Charles Leclerc starts on pole

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