Max Verstappen qualifies on F1 pole in Mexico with a record-breaking 14th victory in sight

Max Verstappen pole Mexico
Dan Istitene - Formula 1/Formula 1 via Getty Images

MEXICO CITY — Max Verstappen inched closer to a record 14th victory of the Formula One season by holding off a pair of Mercedes and Mexican favorite Sergio Perez to win the pole Saturday for the Mexico City Grand Prix.

It was the sixth pole of the season for Verstappen, who clinched his second consecutive F1 title earlier this month. Red Bull wrapped up the constructors title last week.

With three races left in the season, the last remaining drama involves Verstappen trying to snap a tie for the single-season wins record with Michael Schumacher and Sebastian Vettel, Lewis Hamilton looking to avoid the first winless season of his career, and Perez trying to become the first Mexican to win an F1 race at the Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez. Having won seven of the past eight races, Verstappen is the betting favorite Sunday.

With a packed crowd chanting “Ole! Ole! Ole! Che-co! Che-co!” every time Perez passed on the track, the roar was deafening as he shot into the top three. But Hamilton, who had his first lap wiped away, still had to complete a qualifying run.

Hamilton qualified third, behind teammate George Russell, as the Mercedes drivers seek their first win of the season. Hamilton, a seven-time champion, has never gone winless since his 2007 F1 debut.

He was second to Verstappen a week ago at Circuit of the Americas in Austin, Texas, where Verstappen raced to his record-tying 13th win of the season. Verstappen has not promised to give Perez any favors to help Perez win in front of his adoring fans, but Perez did himself no favors in qualifying fourth.

Red Bull has won eight consecutive races headed into Sunday.

The final three races are important for Perez, who heads into Sunday trailing Charles Leclerc of Ferrari by only two points for second in the standings. It gives Red Bull a chance to go 1-2 in the final standings of a season it has totally dominated, and it’s also an opportunity to shift the narrative from its penalty for cost cap overspending.

NEOM McLaren Formula E announces Jake Hughes will join Rene Rast for 2023 season

McLaren Formula E Hughes
McLaren Racing

Doubling down on their commitment to electric auto sports, McLaren Racing announced Jake Hughes will join Rene Rast to compete in the 2023 Formula E Series (FE), which completes their driver lineup.

The NEOM McLaren FE team was formed by the acquisition of the Mercedes-EQ Formula E team that won the 2021 and 2022 championships with Stoffel Vandoorne and Nyck de Vries behind the wheel.

“Today’s announcement feels like a long time coming,” said Ian James, managing director of NEOM McLaren Electric Racing in a release. “Since May this year, when we first announced McLaren Racing’s entry into Formula E, we have been working tirelessly to get in place the best possible team and structure for sustainable success.

“On the one hand, we have been working on the retention of the amazing talent that already was in place before going into the transitional phase. I’m proud to say I think we’ve done a great job on that front.

“On the other hand, we have been focusing on putting in place new processes and new talent – and the latter includes the drivers.”

The driver lineup clasps the two hands together.

Hughes brings 10 years racing experience in single seater cars, including a role with the acquired Mercedes-EQ team as a reserve and development driver for the past two seasons. He is the 2013 BRDC Formula 4 champion and has multiple wins in Formula 2, including two in 2020.

Announced in August, Rast joins the team after earning two podium finishes and six top-fives in 22 career Formula E starts for Audi Sport ABT before returning to the DTM Series last year. Rast’s best finish in Formula E came in the Puebla E Prix when he finished second to teammate Lucas di Grassi by less than a half second.

McLaren’s commitment to Formula E comes one year after they entered the Extreme E rally series in 2022 with Tanner Foust and Emma Gilmour in the driver lineup. After a modest start to the season, the McLaren XE drivers crossed the finish line first in Round 4 in Chile, but were assessed a time penalty that dropped them to fifth. Last week in the season finale in Uruguay, they held onto a hard-earned second place finish.