Verstappen had shown the speed all weekend in Mexico and looked set to create history with a first career pole in the final qualifying session.
In qualifying, Red Bull locked out the front row as Ricciardo pipped his teammate, but Hamilton was just over 0.1s adrift in third and delighted with his team's recovery.
World championship leader Lewis Hamilton, pictured October 7, 2018, struggled with tyre-wear and lack of mechanical grip with his Mercedes auto as he and team-mate Valtteri Bottas were outpaced. The Ferrari driver must win the race to stay in the hunt, while all Hamilton has to do is finish seven or better to put things beyond doubt.
"To be as close as I am, I'm really quite happy", Hamilton said.
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Two weeks ago, Derek Carr could be seen shedding tears in the final minutes of the loss in London against the Seahawks . Smith said that approach could be a "learning opportunity" for the team.
"We didn't have the cleanest run through practice and I knew putting a lap together would be crucial as always, I knew the pace was in the vehicle, obviously Max showed that from start to finish". "I was struggling the whole qualifying, with the same problems I had in Practice Two, when I had a lot of rear locking, on the down-shifting and when I come off throttle. We hadn't had the cleanest run through practice and I just knew putting the lap together would be crucial as always", said Ricciardo, who whooped in delight as he realised what he had done. On tracks like this, for whatever reason, I guess the Renault engine's working really well but more so the higher downforce level that they usually are able to achieve is definitely helping for sure. It's been a while since I've had a good weekend in general.
The German, 70 points behind Hamilton with only 75 to play for, finished fourth, 1.23 seconds slower than the speedy Red Bulls.
"The Red Bulls, they are very fast, they will be hard to beat - maybe they'll beat themselves", joked Vettel.
"We tried to make the best of it and I thought it was going to be enough with the problems we had, but it's still good to be second".
"Obviously, dropping back to fourth from second is not satisfying but we'll see what we can do tomorrow".