Sebastian Vettel has vowed to “go all out” in Sunday’s Mexican GP in a desperate bid to keep his faint world championship hopes alive.
Vettel will lead the field away after securing the 50th pole of his career with a stunning lap around the Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez to pip Max Verstappen by 0.086 seconds.
The German must outscore championship leader Lewis Hamilton, who starts third, by 17 points to extend the title race to Brazil and cannot afford to finish outside the top two.
“[The championship] is not as much in my control as I would like it to be. It depends on what Lewis is doing,” Vettel said.
“We go all out. We’ll attack and see what we can do. We deserve a good result. Ferrari deserves a good result.”
Sky Sports F1 pundit Paul di Resta analyses Sebastian Vettel's pole lap in Qualifying at the Mexican GP
Vettel suffered a disrupted Friday but Ferrari made changes to the German’s car overnight and his improved Saturday culminated in the new lap record.
And the four-time world champion is confident Ferrari will have the pace to hold up his end of the bargain.
“It was quite a lap I have to say,” he said.
“Friday wasn’t that good for us in all honesty but overnight we improved, we had a lot of things we worked on and changed and they all worked.
“For now I’m really happy, we’ll see what happens but the race pace should be really good.”
Hamilton: Mercedes needed more
For Hamilton it was a frustrating session as, after topping the timesheet in Q1, the Mercedes driver was unable to match the pace set by Vettel and Verstappen.
The Briton ended up nearly half a second off Vettel’s pole time and while he felt he could have improved on his final lap, Hamilton conceded he could do no better than third.
Hamilton only needs to finish in the top five to secure his fourth world championship, regardless of what Vettel achieves.
Drivers’ Championship title permutations in Mexico Result Hamilton fifth or higher Hamilton is champion Vettel second Hamilton is champion if he finishes ninth or higher Vettel third or lower Hamilton is champion
“I gave it everything I could,” he said. “Honestly, the last lap I could have been a couple of tenths quicker but I still wouldn’t have been able to match these guys.
“The car balance was fine, we just needed more [pace].”
Mercedes had expected the weekend to be difficult given their previous struggles in high downforce settings and team boss Toto Wolff took satisfaction that they had managed to get both Hamilton and Valtteri Bottas, starting fourth, ahead of the second Red Bull and Ferrari.
“I am actually quite pleased with the result,” Wolff told Sky F1.
“So far we have moved a step closer to Red Bull and Ferrari on a high downforce track and that is quite satisfying.”
Watch Sky F1's exclusive sit-down interview with Lewis Hamilton in our Mexican GP build-up show from 5.30pm ahead of what could be his fourth world title
Run to Turn One to be critical?
The 975m run down to Turn One off the line is among the longest on the F1 calendar.
The start to Sunday’s race, at 7pm exclusively live on Sky F1, will be eagerly anticipated given the history between Vettel and Verstappen and their collision in Singapore the last time they lined up together on the front row.
Hamilton has also stated he wants to win the championship with victory and insisted he would not shy away from making a move at the start if one presented itself to him.
“It’s a long way down to Turn One, so we should have some fun tomorrow,” Hamilton added.
“At the moment there is no risk to take. If I get a good start and am in a good position I will go for it.”
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