Charles Leclerc - 7th

It was a rare off day in qualifying for Charles Leclerc - the man with nine pole positions to his name in 2022.

Leclerc ultimately qualified a disappointing seventh, even losing out on a position to Alfa Romeo’s Valtteri Bottas in the dying stages of Q3.

While their pace has often looked to be on par with Red Bull and Mercedes, the driveability of the Ferrari has looked very tricky, particularly in the middle part of the lap.

Both Leclerc and Carlos Sainz have been seen on countless occasions correcting oversteer moments and struggling with the rear of their car.

Speaking after qualifying in Mexico, Leclerc hinted at a potential engine issue which hampered his performance in qualifying.

“It was a difficult session but there is a problem I am sure. We need to look into it. It was mostly engine-wise, we were losing a lot of time down the straights. And there were lots of problems with driveability, the engine was not responding to the throttle. Especially at high speed it was extremely difficult. 

“I really hope we can fix that for tomorrow, if yes, I feel confident we can have a good result. If not, I am not sure how it will go. I think this is really a one off. For me it was really strange. So we need to look into it and I hope we can find something for tomorrow.”

Issue or not, it was a surprise to see Leclerc so far down the order.

Sebastian Vettel - 17th

After an impressive run of races for Aston Martin, Sebastian Vettel was knocked out in Q1 in Mexico City.

The shock wasn’t particularly Vettel or teammate Lance Stroll’s performance, but more Aston Martin’s lack of performance at the Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez.

Aston Martin have scored 24 points in the last three races, allowing them to move within three points of Alfa Romeo for sixth in the constructors’ standings.

Seeing both Aston Martins out in Q1 was surprising but a testament to how quickly things can change in F1’s midfield.

Which F1 drivers had a great day?

Max Verstappen - 1st

The reigning world champion saved his best for last in qualifying in Mexico.

His pole margin was an enormous three-tenths - something that looked very unlikely in the earlier sessions.

Verstappen will go in search of his 14th victory of the year, and if he wins on Sunday, it will be a record for the most wins in a season.

“It was a good qualifying, I think it was a close one," Verstappen said “I think after FP3 we made a few adjustments on the car and got into a better rhythm, and to be on pole here is of course amazing. 

“Of course, it's a very long run to Turn 1, so we do need a good start. Anyway, I think we have a quick car, and that's, of course, what's most important.”

George Russell - 2nd

It was the first time since the summer break that George Russell out-qualified Mercedes teammate Lewis Hamilton.

Without a mistake in the final sector, a second pole of the year could have been his.

Regardless, it was a welcome return to form for Russell, who by his own admission, has been below par since the summer break.

While Hamilton had his own issues in qualifying, it was important for Russell to get back ahead of his teammate and be in a position to attack Verstappen on the first lap.

Valtteri Bottas - 6th

The overall star of qualifying was Bottas.

Since introducing several upgrades at Suzuka, Alfa Romeo appear to be back to being a top 10 contending outfit.

It’s timely considering Aston Martin’s remarkable run of results, putting Alfa Romeo under immense pressure in the race for sixth.

Bottas hasn’t finished inside the top 10 since the Canadian Grand Prix but he’s in a great position to end his drought on Sunday.