With the cooler conditions remaining in Mexico, the battle for pole position was ever tighter, with Ferrari and Red Bull muscling in on the Mercedes drivers for the top spot.
It wouldn’t include Jolyon Palmer’s Renault though, the chassis cracked after hitting a kerb in FP3 and will mean he starts from the pitlane tomorrow.
Grosjean along with Mexican teammate Gutierrez were out early on the circuit, along with Manor and Magnussen. Even though the track temperatures were higher than the morning session, cars needed two warm up laps. Ericsson was the first to set a representable lap time, before being deposed by Kvyat.
Grosjean aborted his lap after running wide at turn 12, only sixth after his slow lap. Perez had traffic on his first lap, he was held up slightly by a Toro Rosso, which he later aborted. Jenson Button went third in the McLaren, behind the Toro Rosso’s, while Hulkenberg pushed on his second lap to set the fastest lap.
Behind, it was Lewis Hamilton would take the lead of the session, with Vettel going a tenth of a second faster in the Ferrari. Rosberg could only go fourth fastest behind Perez, and then dropping behind Verstappen, Raikkonen and Ricciardo.
After the first runs it was Ferrari who were the fastest, Raikkonen ahead of Vettel, from Verstappen, Hamilton, Ricciardo, Bottas, Perez, Rosberg, Massa and Alonso. Rosberg went to improve to fifth, and Ricciardo to second.
Kvyat stopped with a power issue in the back of his Toro Rosso, slipping down to 15th place.
Hamilton went out again in the Mercedes, and like his teammate improve this time to 1st, and a tenth of a second ahead of Raikkonen.
Gutierrez improved to 15th, dropping Wehrlein into the bottom six. Ericsson also improved, which was good enough for 12th, dropping Kvyat out, and in the pits – the second to leave in qualifying. Nasr couldn’t improve though, with Gutierrez spinning and holding up his teammate.
Those out in qualifying 1 included Gutierrez, Kvyat, Nasr, Ocon, Grosjean and Palmer.
Both Mercedes drivers and the Williams came out during the start of Q2, while the McLarens and Wehrlein went out on the supersofts. Mercedes, first on the road with Hamilton ahead of Rosberg set their fast times. Hamilton did a 1:19.1 even though he was hampered by Vettel in the complex, while Rosberg was six tenths slower. Raikkonen was a further two tenths behind the Mercedes.
Vettel eventually went second fastest. Red Bull’s went out on the supersoft tyre, Verstappen taking the fasting time by over a tenth of a second, and Ricciardo fourth dropping Rosberg down to fifth.
Thinking that he was not safe, Raikkonen went out on the supersoft tyres and Rosberg returned with the soft. All apart from Verstappen, Hamilton, Vettel and Ricciardo went out for another run.
It was a slow first sector for Nico Rosberg, four tenths behind Verstappen before giving up on the lap. Button improved to 10th only in the McLaren on supersoft, with Bottas going 7th. Massa also improved, with Alonso then going 10th. Hulkenberg was much faster than his teammate and local hero Perez, who would get pushed out in Q2.
Those out in the second part of qualifying included Alonso, Perez, Button, Magnussen, Ericsson and Wehrlein.
The green light for Q3 brought out a lot of drivers onto the circuit, all sporting the supersoft tyre. Only the Toro Rosso of Carlos Sainz went out on used tyres for the first run. In a comical moment, the cars went very slowly through the stadium section before putting their foot down the main straight.
Verstappen set the first fastest time, with Ricciardo a couple of tenths behind. Hamilton went faster though by three tenths, but it was half a second slower for Rosberg. Raikkonen was only sixth fastest, with Vettel down in eighth.
Everyone went out for another run, starting with four minutes of the session remaining. Hamilton didnt go faster though and Verstappen stayed second. Rosberg went second only a couple of tenths behind Hamilton, while the Ferrari drivers stayed behind the Force India of Hulkenberg.