Russell led both FP2 and FP3 at the Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez, and looked to be in the hunt for pole after falling just 0.132s behind Max Verstappen after the first run in Q3.
But George Russell had a tricky final lap, suffering from oversteer at Turn 5 before going wide at Turn 12 at the end of the backstretch. That made him go out and waste time.
Verstappen was able to improve further on his final lap to take pole by three tenths over Russell, but the Briton regretted his last attempt.
“The team deserved more today, they’ve put together a really great car this weekend, and I think it’s a great test for them for the hard work they’ve been doing for so long,” said the Mercedes driver.
“Last week we saw Lewis show what the car was capable of. I feel like this was our pole, and it was a terrible lap from me, so I’m kicking myself ass.”
“But in the end, they don’t give points for qualifying and I’m excited to be back on the front row.”
Russell will start just ahead of teammate Lewis Hamilton, after a Saturday in which Mercedes enjoyed its best result of the 2022 season in qualifying.
The team has three races to go to try to avoid finishing the year without a win, and has tried to increase its chances for the end of the season with improvements to the W13 that they debuted in Austin and that they hope will serve them for 2023.
Russell believes that Mercedes “didn’t really get a chance to show what they were really capable of” during the United States Grand Prix weekend, but reckons the high-altitude conditions in Mexico allowed them to show more of their potential.
“At this high altitude, drag is less of a factor, and that’s where the Red Bulls outperform us, shall we say,” said Russell.
“They always take us like three tenths on the straight. It’s a less important factor here, so that’s probably why we’re a little bit more competitive.”
Asked about Mercedes’ long-run pace heading into the race, Russell admits his car “looks competitive” and has a “reasonable chance” in the battle for the front.
“Having Lewis up front also gives us the opportunity to do something different with the strategy,” he said. “We’ll see what we can do.”