By Alan Baldwin
MEXICO CITY (Reuters) – Sebastian Vettel put Ferrari on pole position for the Mexican Grand Prix on Saturday with title favorite Lewis Hamilton third on the grid and poised for a fourth world championship.
The pole was the 50th of Vettel’s Formula One career but he knows the title outcome is out of his hands.
Hamilton has a 66-point lead over the German, a four-times champion, and the Mercedes driver has only to finish fifth to become Britain’s first quadruple title holder with two races to spare.
“It depends on Lewis. For us, we go all out. We deserve a good result so let’s see what we can do tomorrow,” Vettel told reporters.
Hamilton congratulated the German on his milestone.
“I tried to deny him but it wasn’t to be. It was a difficult session and it has been a difficult weekend,” he said.
“They did a great job and their car was working better than ours this weekend, but I am still there in the fight,” added the 32-year-old Briton, who feared overtaking would be difficult on Sunday.
Red Bull’s Max Verstappen, who had looked like becoming the sport’s youngest pole-sitter until Vettel’s late final lap of one minute 16.488 seconds, qualified alongside Vettel on the front row.
The Dutch driver was under a stewards’ investigation, however, for allegedly impeding Hamilton’s team mate Valtteri Bottas in the second phase of the session.
Verstappen, who was demoted from third to fourth by stewards at the U.S. Grand Prix for exceeding track limits while overtaking Ferrari’s Kimi Raikkonen, was frustrated not to be starting from the top slot.
“Second is good but not given the way it went. I really wanted that pole position,” said the 20-year-old, who played down the incident.
“It’s his own problem if he outbrakes himself at the next corner. I was on the inside and didn’t hold him up,” he told Sky Sports television. “I moved to the inside and was past the point where you go to the right. I don’t see an incident.”
(Reporting by Alan Baldwin, editing by Ed Osmond)