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Daniel Ricciardo upstaged his Red Bull teammate Max Verstappen with a dazzling record lap in the final seconds of Saturday's thrilling qualifying shootout for the Mexican Grand Prix, as the title-chasing Lewis Hamilton took third.

Verstappen, 21, vowed to deny Hamilton the chance of securing his fifth championship in style, and the Dutchman appears the man to beat after a dominant day for his Red Bull team.

The pole was only the third of Ricciardo's career and both of those previous ones came in the tight and twisty confines of Monaco.

"Believe it or not, I held a lot of [my joy] in because I know I've got to keep some for tomorrow", he added.

If second place on the starting grid left the Dutch youngster feeling sore, the front row lockout was still Red Bull's first since the U.S. Grand Prix of 2013.

Hamilton, who wants to see out the title which will draw him level with Juan Manuel Fangio with a victory, is in striking range of the Red Bulls but, crucially, ahead of his sole rival.

Hamilton recovered from last year's chaotic start to finish by clawing back to a ninth-place finish at the Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez, which was all he needed to clinch the title on that occasion.

"I was not expecting to be up as high as we have done", said the Briton.

"I didn't feel good at all".

Verstappen and Ricciardo will have to decide how much to fight each other for the win.

"We had a hard day yesterday and today was a big improvement".

"Synchronise driving down to Turn 1 and drive as wide as you can against that Ferrari and Mercedes on the drag race down to Turn 1", replied Horner when asked by Sky F1 what he will tell his drivers to do Sunday afternoon.

"Those guys (Red Bull) are in a league of their own", he said.

Indeed Renault-powered engines thrived on Friday, with Carlos Sainz Jr and Nico Hulkenberg rounding out the top four in the first session, while Ferrari's Sebastian Vettel - who hopes to once again prolong Hamilton's seemingly inevitable wait for glory - was down in seventh.

"They are fragile as hell as we can see, and it will be about making sure we have a strategy that can stay ahead of the Ferrari and Mercedes".