Verstappen was comfortably quickest in Q2 and enjoyed an advantage of over a quarter of a second after the first runs in Q3, but Vettel denied the 20-year-old his first pole position by 0.086s with a stunning final lap at the Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez.
"I am super annoyed", Verstappen conceded after qualifying. For me, the front tyres were not working, a bit of understeer - in this track you need to turn quickly in the low-speed corners.
"Second place is good but not with the way it went". I was surprised myself with just now.
"I gave it my all, of course, but today in qualifying it was just not enough, I really wanted that pole position, but at least we have a decent start position".
Red Bull's Verstappen came agonisingly close to claiming a first career pole position on Saturday, only to be pipped by Ferrari's Sebastian Vettel as champion-elect Lewis Hamilton posted the third-fastest time.
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All four opponents have scored at least 112 points in that stretch, bombing the Cavs with 3s and burned them in transition. Cleveland let New Orleans make 13 3-pointers after all the open looks the team allowed Orlando, Chicago and Brooklyn take.
However, Verstappen's result was thrown into doubt when the stewards confirmed after qualifying they would be investigating the Dutchman for appearing to impede Valtteri Bottas at the start of Q3.
"That's his own problem then if he out brakes himself in the next corner", Verstappen said, referring to Bottas erring into Turn 13.
Wolff, the Head of Mercedes-Benz Motorsport and boss of the Mercedes AMG Petronas Formula One Team, felt Red Bull Racing's Verstappen should have taken a penalty for the incident, but the stewards in Mexico disagreed, and took no action, and coupled with the penalty Verstappen took a week ago in the United States, Wolff felt it was the end of week to forget for Formula 1's stewards.
Asked about the Bottas incident, he replied: "Which incident?"
"Obviously when I saw how much I was up crossing the line I knew that it would be close - it should be enough but I didn't know what the others were doing as I guess the track improved a bit, but when I heard it was announced. yeah, it's like an explosion inside the auto. I'm not in his way there".