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
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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.

Dylan Ferrandis in concussion protocol after Houston Supercross accident, Tampa status undetermined

Ferrandis Houston accident
Feld Motor Sports/MX Sports Pro Racing/Align Media
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After suffering a frightening accident at Houston in the Monster Energy Supercross race, Dylan Ferrandis reports he is okay, but will be on concussion protocol and his status for Tampa this week is not yet determined.

Two laps into last week’s Main, Ferrandis was engaged in a battle with Ken Roczen for eighth place. Ferrandis landed on the back Roczen’s bike and was thrown, landing headfirst on the track. Ferrandis momentarily lost consciousness and the race was red flagged so he could be attended to by the Alpinestars medical team.

“I’m okay after my crash in the main event. I hit my head first and got knock[ed] out for some minutes,” Ferrandis posted in an Instagram story. “Everything else is fine and I am okay now fortunately. Will follow the concussion protocol and will see when I can ride again.”

Ferrandis regained consciousness, the medical crew fitted Ferrandis with a neck brace and he was able to stand and walk to the cart under his own power. Ferrandis was sitting up when he left the track with a member of the crew stabilizing his neck.

“It was an awesome ride [for Eli] and a good way to come back from last weekend,” said Jeremy Coker, Team Manager for Star Racing Yamaha at RacerXOnline.com. “It was also the lowest of lows. Unfortunately, it’s part of the sport, but to see one of your guys crash the way Dylan did and to see him lying there was pretty tough. Fortunately, when I got to him, he was able to open his eyes and looked at me and said my name, and it was a huge relief to see him stand up and walk away.”

Ferrandis was off to a strong start in 2023 with a worst finish of sixth at San Diego in the first three races. He entered Houston sixth in the standings, one point behind Jason Anderson.

Ferrandis’ teammate Eli Tomac went on to win the race.

Also riding for Star Racing Yamaha and making his 450cc Supercross debut, Justin Cooper advanced from 13th at the end of Lap 1 to finish seventh.