Nico Rosberg will start Sunday’s Mexican Grand Prix from pole position after setting the pace at the Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez on Saturday afternoon.
Rosberg produced a fine lap during the final stage of qualifying to score his fourth consecutive pole position, heading up a Mercedes one-two ahead of teammate Lewis Hamilton.
Rosberg set the early pace in Q3, and his lap midway through the session was enough for pole as the track cooled, preventing drivers from going any quicker with their final flying laps.
Hamilton was forced to settle for second place on the grid, finishing less than two-tenths of a second shy of Rosberg at the front. Sebastian Vettel followed the Mercedes duo in P3 a further two-tenths back.
Daniil Kvyat and Daniel Ricciardo made good on Red Bull’s impressive practice pace to qualify fourth and fifth respectively, finishing ahead of Valtteri Bottas. Home hero Sergio Perez paid for opting not to go out early, finishing ninth. Force India teammate Nico Hulkenberg rounded out the top ten.
Felipe Massa and Max Verstappen both managed to edge into Q3 with late Q2 laps, allowing them to qualify seventh and eighth respectively. Their progress came at the expense of Carlos Sainz Jr. and Romain Grosjean, who will start 11th and 12th tomorrow ahead of Pastor Maldonado and Marcus Ericsson.
Kimi Raikkonen’s slim hopes of ending his 100-race pole drought were extinguished completely in Q2 when a brake problem caused him to spin at turn one, forcing the Finn to bring his qualifying to an early end. Finishing 15th, Raikkonen will drop down to 18th for the start of the race by virtue of his grid penalty.
McLaren’s difficult weekend continued as a signal problem on Jenson Button’s power unit forced the Briton to miss qualifying, leaving him 20th on the grid. Teammate Fernando Alonso fared little better, dropping out of Q1 in 16th place ahead of Sauber’s Felipe Nasr and the Manor duo of Alexander Rossi and Will Stevens.
Rosberg may not be able to win the drivers’ championship, but the German will be looking to end his four-month win drought on Sunday as he bids to finish the year as runner-up to Hamilton.
However, having converted just two of his last ten poles into a race win, Rosberg will know that he must break with his recent form if he is to become the first winner of the Mexican Grand Prix since Nigel Mansell back in 1992.
The Mexican Grand Prix is live on NBC and Live Extra from 1:30pm ET on Sunday.