Verstappen aware pole position may prove irrelevant in Mexico

Photo by Mark Thompson/Getty Images

Max Verstappen knows pole position at the Mexican Grand Prix does not guarantee first place, as the Formula One world champion aims to claim a 14th win of the season.

Of Verstappen's 13 race wins in 2022, nine have come without the Dutchman starting on pole, which has seen him surpass Lewis Hamilton's calendar-year record (eight in 2019).

Verstappen will, though, start from the front in Mexico City on Sunday.

Mercedes duo George Russell and Lewis Hamilton qualified in second and third respectively, though Verstappen does not expect pole position to dictate who wins the race.

"I've started, I guess, everywhere except pole here, and we won the races, so it is always important to have a good start around here," Verstappen told reporters.

"I think our top speed is not too bad to defend, at least, when people are in the draft. We just need to focus on that and honestly, I think if we have a good race pace, then it will be a good fight.

"We don't know [about the race pace] because we've been driving on these development tyres, so it's a bit difficult to tell. But I think the car we had [on Saturday], I'm expecting it to be alright."

Red Bull will match their longest winning streak in F1 should they clinch a ninth straight victory – only in 2013 have they achieved such a run.

Russell, who has enjoyed a strong debut season with Mercedes in a difficult campaign for the team, is hopeful of denting Verstappen's lead at Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez.

"I think we were looking competitive. Similar to what Max said: we don't really know. But we think we've got a reasonable shot," Russell said.

"I think having Lewis and I there at the front gives us an opportunity to maybe do something different with the strategy.

"I don't think anybody really knows if it's going to be a one or two-stop. So, let's see what we can do."

Verstappen and Hamilton finished first and second respectively at the United States Grand Prix last week, becoming the pair with the most one-two finishes (32) in F1 history.

Hamilton, however, understands the difficulties of challenging Verstappen, given Red Bull's superiority throughout the year – though an early attack at the first turn could be crucial.

"Naturally, it's always a tough race around here, with the track temperatures and tyres," Hamilton said. "These guys have been rapid all year long.

"Even at our best this weekend, still losing out to them through straight-line speed. It'll definitely be difficult to get by them, but we'll give it our best shot. And Turn 1 is an opportunity. So, we'll go for it."