Verstappen on pole in Mexico as Bottas crashes heavily

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Sunday's race live on 5 Live and the BBC Sport website at 19:10 GMTRed Bull's Max Verstappen took a stunning pole position at the Mexican Grand Prix ahead of the Ferraris of Charles Leclerc and Sebastian Vettel.Verstappen beat Leclerc by 0.266 seconds as Mercedes' Valtteri Bottas crashed trying to improve on his sixth place.Lewis Hamilton, who will win the championship one Sunday if he finishes 14 points ahead of Bottas, starts fourth, ahead of Red Bull's Alexander Albon.
There are questions, however, as to whether Verstappen slowed sufficiently for Bottas' crash.The incident brought out yellow warning flags and Hamilton, Verstappen and Vettel were all running behind Bottas on the track.

Bottas made such a mess of his car, it could leave Hamilton an open goal to win the title in MexicoHamilton and Verstappen both improved their times, which could lead to problems with the stewards as drivers have to back off for yellow warning flags in the event of crashes.Hamilton was running right behind Bottas and while he improved his overall lap time, he did not go faster in the final sector. But Verstappen set his fastest last sector time of the session as he passed Bottas' crashed car, which would normally mean a grid penalty.In fact, Vettel expressed his dismay at the turn of events as he saw the flags, saying over the radio: "You're kidding me. That was going to be a good lap."But it looked marginal as to whether Vettel would have beaten Verstappen had the German been able to complete his lap.
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Full practice and qualifying results
Mexican Grand Prix radio & online coverage details
Bottas crashed as he got wide out of the final corner trying to make up time, sliding into the barriers and causing considerable damage to his car. He said over the radio that he was OK, although he was heard breathing heavily afterwards.The Finn was taken to the medical centre for a precautionary check-up and was given the all clear.It is a blow for the Finn as he tries to prevent Hamilton putting the championship out of reach. But starting fourth it is still a big task for Hamilton to make as much of a gain on Bottas as he needs to clinch his sixth title.Hamilton needs to finish on the podium at least and hope Bottas' results go his way.Bottas' crash could lead to further problems for the Finn. If his gearbox needs to be replaced, as seems likely, that would mean a five-place grid penalty. And if there are major changes to the car specification, he could even have to start from the pit lane.
How Hamilton can win the title in Mexico
Win plus fastest lap with Bottas lower than third
Win with Bottas lower than fourth
Second plus fastest lap with Bottas lower than seventh
Second with Bottas lower than seventh
Second with Bottas lower than eighth if Bottas sets fastest lap
Third and fastest lap with Bottas lower than eighth
Third with Bottas lower than ninth
Verstappen on fire
The pole is only the second of Verstappen's career and he did it in scintillating style - quickest on the first runs and looking capable of defending that position on the second, regardless of the Bottas incident.Ferrari were expected to be unbeatable in qualifying in Mexico because of their formidable straight-line speed, but the track also rewards high downforce because of the thin air at an altitude of more than 2,000m.In the end, Red Bull's aerodynamics cancelled out the low-drag of Ferrari's car and higher power of its engine.

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What they said
Verstappen said: "It's been an interesting day but to come out on top was incredible. We know Ferrari have been really quick on the straight and to come back and take pole here means a big thank you to the team. They kept bringing new parts and it showed today we are very quick."We're going to give it all and we have a good race car so even if something happens in the first corner we're fine."Vettel said: "I had a mistake on my first run and I was quite confident on the second I could make up for it but there was a double yellow so I had to slow down. "I would like to have been further up but we have the speed and it is a long race. It will be a tough one on brakes and cooling in general, and on the tyres out will be quite an adventure. I am looking forward to it."Hamilton said: "I think third was possible but I am generally happy with today. It was hard to keep up with the others. We knew it would be difficult here. I gave it everything and I think I am in a fighting position (for the race)."
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