Formula 1 world championship leader Lewis Hamilton was happy to put his Mercedes in a “fighting position” for the Mexican Grand Prix after qualifying fourth on the grid.

Hamilton, who can wrap up a sixth drivers’ world title in Mexico if he outscores Mercedes teammate Valtteri Bottas by 14 points on Sunday, ended up 0.504s adrift of Max Verstappen’s stunning pole position effort as he set the fourth-fastest time.

The Briton was just a tenth shy of pipping Sebastian Vettel to third and only two tenths down on the lead Ferrari of Charles Leclerc, who joins Verstappen on the front row.

“I think third place was possible but in the last sector it kind of all went to pot there,” Hamilton said.

“But I’m generally happy with today, it was just hard to keep up with the others.

“We knew that it would be difficult this weekend coming here but I gave it everything, it wasn’t enough for pole but I think I got everything out of the car.

“It puts us in a fighting position for tomorrow, so I hope we get a good start.”

The top six will all start the race on Medium tyres and Hamilton is expecting the race to be largely influenced by tyre management.

“There won’t be a huge amount [of strategy variations] and the Red Bull is really quite quick on their long runs, so it will be interesting to see whose tyres will last longer,” he added.

“That’s going to be the name of the game, just looking after the tyres for the distance and holding on to the top players, the Ferraris and Red Bulls ahead. I’m looking forward to that fight.”

 

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