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Ricciardo pips Verstappen to Mexican pole position

Ricciardo pips Verstappen to Mexican pole position

Daniel Ricciardo upstaged his Red Bull teammate Max Verstappen with a dazzling record lap to snatch pole position in the final seconds of Saturday's thrilling shootout for the Mexican Grand Prix, with Lewis Hamilton taking third.

Hamilton is just the third driver in history to win five or more Drivers' Championships after Juan Manuel Fangio, the 1950s great, and Michael Schumacher.

His next titles came in 2014, 2015 and 2017 in an unstoppable Mercedes, but this year's triumph will be among his most satisfying having outscored Vettel despite driving a slower vehicle for much of the season.

Though Vettel took the race victory and extended his slender lead in the overall standings, Hamilton was at least able to claim a crucial 18 points as the 33-year-old staged a sensational recovery to finish as runner-up.

It's a very odd feeling right now.

"I've been with Mercedes since I was 13 so to complete this - Fangio had done it with Mercedes - it's an incredible feeling and very surreal at the moment". "I was just trying to bring the vehicle home".

That will be fine for Hamilton: even if he fails to finish the race, as long as a Red Bull takes the chequered flag, the championship is still his. "So I'm very happy with how it's gone".

But he added: "I don't really allow myself to be too emotional in public, but I feel very, very humbled by the whole experience".

Vettel, meanwhile, could only pay tribute to his rival.

"I congratulated him and I think he drove superb all year", Vettel said. We need to stand there, accept that and send congratulations.

"The start was the key, " Verstappen said.

"I have to go back and work with the engineers, debrief, get my mind right, start training again next week and get in gear so we can try to win [the next race] in Brazil". When I won the championship previous year, I was like how am I going to improve?

On their first runs, Vettel clocked 1:14.970, another record, before Hamilton went second, just 0.052 seconds adrift - until Verstappen blitzed to provisional pole in 1:14.785, almost two-tenths clear.

Ferrari driver Vettel, who won four titles between 2010 and 2013, had been chasing the same honour, but was left to rue mistakes made earlier in the campaign.

Hulkenberg executed a one-stop strategy well to keep comfortably clear of Sauber's Charles Leclerc in seventh.

A tough task to score points from there and Renault should end the race a little closer to securing fourth spot and the extra prize money that goes with it.


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