As Ferrari surprised everyone including themselves, it was another session to forget for Aston Martin.
Heading into Q3, there would have been few who would have predicted not one but two Ferraris would start on the front row.
Leaving it until the very last lap, the Ferrari pair suddenly found pace, enough to dethrone Max Verstappen, and earn their first one-two start since the 2022 Monaco Grand Prix.
Here are your winners and losers:
Is there anywhere else to start than at Ferrari? A sudden arrival of performance that had both Charles Leclerc and Carlos Sainz scratching their heads after the session.
Heading into the weekend and indeed Q3, Ferrari being spoken of as a pole contender let alone a front row lockout was rare but something about that final lap saw the SF-23 come alive.
Just 0.067 seconds separated the Ferrari pair in what was the team’s first front-row lockout since the 2022 Monaco grand Prix.
Holding on for the win will be a challenge but with two cars at the front, Ferrari have given themselves a great chance.
After a comeback race that was impacted by damage and the wrong strategy, this is the kind of performance Daniel Ricciardo would have been picturing as he underwent his injury rehab.
Ricciardo has looked quick all weekend and with Yuki Tsunoda cosigned to the back of the grid due to an engine change, the Australian was given a perfect partner in the opening two phases of qualifying,
But with the Tsunoda shaped tow missing in Q3, Ricciardo proved it was not just a case of a helping hand that was making him so quick with the Australian qualifying in fourth, his best result since the 2022 Italian Grand Prix with McLaren.
At this point, I am not sure even the Alfa Romeo team know which track they will be quick at but in that ever-changing lottery performance, the Swiss team found their ticket had won in Mexico.
First of all, Valtteri Bottas made it into Q3 and if to prove the racing gods were really on Alfa’s side, Alex Albon saw his lap deleted which pushed Zhou Guanyu up into Q3 as well.
The Alfa car has looked particularly quick in the final sector of the circuit with Zhou’s time beating that of pole sitter Leclerc.
After the highs of Austin, came the lows of Mexico City. McLaren had been warning that their performance may drop off at one of these circuits but what will be ultimately disappointing for Lando Norris is that it was not really down to the car’s performance as to why he exited in Q1.
The reason behind that was a mixture of misfortune and mistakes with Norris first aborting a quick run to return to the pits with a problem. Fearing a yellow or red flag, McLaren sent him out on his own towards the end of Q1 but he messed up the lap, sliding through Turn 12, and although he did make it to the line before the chequered flag was waved, his final lap was aborted after Fernando Alonso’s spin brought out the yellows.
But even if the Spaniard had kept it on track, the running so far this weekend has shown more than one good flying lap on the soft tyre is unlikely and with Oscar Piastri qualifying in seventh, Norris will be disappointed with his display.
It is no secret that the development route Aston chose was the wrong one but right now it looks like the upgrade consisted of an anchor able to beach a cruise boat.
Lance Stroll was first to fall, out in Q1 for the fifth time in a row, but in the very same session Alonso uncharacteristically spun coming out of Turn 1.
With Stroll already out, Alonso would fall in Q2, qualifying 13th but such has been the lack of pace this weekend that the Spanaird will have one eye over his shoulder just as much as he will be looking forward.
McLaren have already surpassed them in the standings and Aston should put their effort in figuring out just what went wrong.
A weekend that promised so much ultimately came down to a mistake from Alex Albon. Having come P2 in FP3, Albon would have been confident of not only a Q3 appearance but high grid position.
But something changed between FP3 and qualifying, the car suddenly seemed a different one to such an extent that Albon thought there had to be damage.
Sensing he was in a losing battle, Albon was desperate to make up for the car’s deficiencies but it was that extra effort that would cost him as he cut the corner too much and left the track.
It was the barest of margins, so much so that Albon was seen gesturing at a replay of the incident within the Williams garage but it was enough to see his lap deleted and move him down to P14.