“These guys were just too quick, in a league of their own, in general, up to qualifying and even in qualifying,” said the Briton, having finished third quickest, 0.135s of pole-man Daniel Ricciardo‘s pace.
“His middle sector, there was no way I could get that,” admitted the Briton. “To be as close as I am, I’m really quite happy with that. To be third is not a bad start.”
Asked if he thought he would have the pace to beat the pair, who gave Red Bull its first front row lock-out in five years, the Briton replied: “I don’t think so.
“This is a great day for us, considering how bad yesterday was for us,” he continued. “It’s a night and day difference. Yesterday we were really struggling. FP1 was OK. But then once we got to FP2, it was not fun to drive that’s for sure.
“There were several different problems on the whole car,” he admitted. “On the technical side, on the aero side, mostly on the mechanical side, but a little bit aero and on the engine side. Big changes were made overnight and to come back here today and put ourselves in contention, we didn’t think yesterday with that performance we’d be able to qualify on an ultra.
“That would have been a massive disadvantage for us if we hadn’t been able to start on the purple tomorrow and had started on the hyper for example. But as soon as we got into qualifying, we knew straight away with the way the car was feeling, I was like ‘OK we’re in a much stronger position to fight for positions’. I’m just glad that I was able to do the job on my second run. It was pretty good.”
Minded of the fact that last year he and Vettel made contact, the Briton, who starts alongside the German again tomorrow, replied: “Does it mean I have to play safe at the beginning of the race? Not really. The thing is, everyone’s going to be barrelling into Turn 1 to gain places. So it’s a very, very fine line. If you go easy, you can get hit. If you go too aggressive, you can get hit. You’ve got to race it like normal.”
Check out our Saturday gallery from Mexico City, here.