Sebastian Vettel admitted he came close to losing control of his Ferrari Formula 1 car during his charge to pole position for the Mexican Grand Prix on Saturday after enjoying an emotional qualifying success at the Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez.
Vettel produced a stunning final lap in Q3 to edge out Red Bull’s Max Verstappen by 0.085 seconds, denying the Dutchman the chance to break the record for being F1’s youngest ever pole-sitter.
“He was very quick in Q2, I don’t know where pulled that one from. We had to stretch, all of us,” Vettel said.
“It is very difficult around here because there’s not much running – the altitude has a different effect on the asphalt in terms of aging. It’s very slippy for all of us, easy to make a mistake and very difficult to find that limit and to understand where exactly it is.
“You can push, where you can’t and where you have to be careful and there he goes four-tenths quicker than everyone else… How do I do that?
“But I knew if I got the first sector together then I would have a better chance, and it worked just in the end so I was really happy with my first sector and I was able to build onto that.
“I had a moment at six, nearly lost the car, but managed to go through without any time loss and from there I felt really comfortable to push until the end.
“Obviously when I saw how much I was up crossing the line I knew that it would be close, it should be enough but I didn’t know what the others were doing as I guess the track improved a bit.
“But when I heard it was announced, yeah, I just exploded from inside the car.”
Vettel enters Sunday’s race 66 points behind Mercedes’ Lewis Hamilton with 75 points left to play for this season, making confirmation of his title defeat likely in Mexico.