Sebastian Vettel took pole for the Mexican Grand Prix with a stunning final qualifying lap.

LCH who starts third today behind Max Verstappen, remains firmly in the ascendant, holding a 66-point lead in the championship with just 75 left to compete for, Vettel added an extra complication by becoming only the fourth man in Formula One to achieve 50 pole positions.

Both races in Mexico have been won from the front since the country’s restoration to the calendar in 2015. Should his German rival convert the advantage to victory this evening, Hamilton will need to finish at least fifth to cement his status as a quadruple champion, joining Juan Manuel Fangio, Michael Schumacher, Alain Prost and Vettel himself.

With an unusually long run down to Turn One here at Mexico City’s Autódromo Hermanos Rodríguez, there promises to be a memorable opening skirmish. The last time Vettel and Verstappen were beside each other on the front row, they collided at the first corner of Singapore, in a shower of sparks and flying debris.

As Hamilton lurks behind them with his eye on history, the cocktail is likely to be explosive. “Yeah, we should have some fun,” he said, with a knowing grin.

“I tried to deny Sebastian, but it wasn’t to be,” Hamilton said. “It was a difficult session and it has been a difficult weekend. Ferrari did a great job and their car was working better than ours, but I am still there in the fight. The race pace is good, but you can’t overtake here.”