Ricciardo takes Mexican GP pole, title-chasing Hamilton third

Ricciardo, who will be leaving Red Bull at the end of the year to join Renault and will be replaced by Toro Rosso driver Gasly, retired from the Mexican Grand Prix while fighting off Sebastian Vettel for second place late on.

Vettel - who will begin from fourth - has never won this race and only that result, combined with a lowly Hamilton finish, would deny the Briton a fifth championship, drawing him level with the great Juan Manuel Fangio.

Ricciardo's effort set up what could be the Australian's last best chance to win for Red Bull.

Hamilton's positive experience at the Mexican Grand Prix mirrored previous year, when he also won the title at the Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez at Vettel's expense.

"I've gotta relax a little".

"Third place is a nice place to start here".

"So it feels a bittersweet victory in that it is fantastic for Max to have driven an outstanding race - absolutely outstanding race - but I'm pretty confident that Daniel would have been able to hold off Sebastian over those remaining laps". He said he was in such shock he couldn't believe it, and produced an epic one liner in his post race interview. "The team has worked very hard for this so it is crucial that we now make the most of it".

A highlight of the Mexican Grand Prix was a local reporter, named Fernando Alonso, posing questions to the drivers.

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The Englishman performed a series of celebratory doughnuts in his Mercedes for the 40,000-strong crowd in the former baseball stadium section of this unique Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez venue, before standing on top of the auto to salute them.

The Dutchman was clearly frustrated by the result, deliberately bumping the second-place board with his auto as he arrived on the start-finish straight, and then bemoaning problems with his Red Bull machinery.

"So I told him well deserved and to enjoy it - number five is something incredible. We will get a good tow from the two in front so hopefully I can gain a position".

Hamilton started a trend, with Ricciardo and Verstappen following suit on laps 12 and 13.

Vettel's Ferrari team-mate Kimi Raikkonen came home third ahead of Hamilton and his Mercedes team-mate Valtteri Bottas. But in Mexico, that sadness was replaced by anger, as Ricciardo suffered his seventh mechanically-related DNF of the season - and admitted that he was more than ready to hand over his auto to Pierre Gasly for 2019...

Verstappen earned his fifth career victory and defended his 2017 race win.

Verstappen fumed as Ricciardo celebrated, but Hamilton - in third - was considerably happier as he qualified ahead of title rival Vettel to edge towards the drivers' championship.

Ricciardo's retirement was his 11 in the last 23 races.

(Copyright © 2015. All Rights Reserved.)
 
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