ADVERTISEMENT
3 - GP MESSICO F1/2023 - SABATO 28/10/2023 - credit: @ Ferrari Spa sainz leclerc sainz

Ferrari surprised by Mexico front row lock-out

3 - GP MESSICO F1/2023 - SABATO 28/10/2023 - credit: @ Ferrari Spa sainz leclerc sainz

Ferrari surprised the world of Formula 1, and even themselves, when Charles Leclerc and Carlos Sainz locked out the front row for the 2023 Mexico City Grand Prix after an intriguing Qualifying on Saturday.

No one saw it coming, as the Reds showed little hint in practice of what Leclerc and Sainz were able to unleash. A welcome surprise for F1 fans and the sport in general, amid a season that has too often been too predictable and utterly dominated by one driver and his team.

Prior to that, FP1, FP2 and FP3 were ‘owned’ by Verstappen and his mighty Red Bull RB19. But in Qualifying with a constantly changing track, the Reds pulled out what could well be the biggest surprise of a rather predictable season thus far.

ADVERTISEMENT

In the end, pole-winner Leclerc, took the top spot on the grid by 0.067s to P2 teammate Sainz, and 0.097s to Verstappen in P3. Was Max somewhat bewildered in Parc Ferme on Saturday afternoon? He would be forgiven to ask: “Where did that come from?

It was a shocker, even the Ferrari driver was surprised afterwards: “I did not expect to take pole position today. After FP3, it seemed as though we were on the back foot but once we put it all together in Q3, it went well.

“I’m already focusing on the race though, because we want to convert this pole into a win. Our pace has been good so far here this weekend, so let’s see what we can do in the race,” added Leclerc.

Sainz: Traffic nearly put me out in Q2

3 - GP MESSICO F1/2023 - SABATO 28/10/2023 - credit: @ Ferrari Spa sainz leclerc

The surge in performance they found between FP3 and Qualy, on the day, also caught Sainz by surprise: “It was quite a strange qualifying session, but a mega result for the team! It hasn’t been the cleanest of weekends for us but in Q3 we managed to put everything together and consolidate a front-row lockout for the race.

“Traffic nearly put me out in Q2, but the lap in Q3 felt good and this is a fantastic boost for everyone in the team, especially during this long triple-header. e need to stay focused, as it won’t be an easy race. Temperatures and tyre management will be key for us.

“However, we are in the best possible position to try to keep everybody behind. Let’s race!” declared Sainz, who is the only driver to have broken the Red Bull streak of victories when the Spaniard triumphed in Singapore, in September.

Leclerc, who has not won a GP since Austria last year, proved once again he is a master qualifier with P1 on the grid for a 22nd time, hoping to convert that into a much-needed victory. Which would make it six GP wins if he can pull it off on Sunday.

Looking ahead to the race, Ferrari added in their Saturday report: “Tyre management will again be an extremely important factor in tomorrow’s race. Over the three free practice sessions the SF-23’s behaviour on all three compounds was assessed and now the team is preparing for all possible scenarios. It’s a long 71 lap race but the Scuderia starts it from the two best places on the grid.”

Furthermore, a big result over Mercedes in Mexico today, could see Ferrari snatch second in the 2023 F1 Constructors’ Championship standings with four Rounds and a Sprint remaining. For now, the score is Mercedes 344, Ferrari 322.