MEXICO CITY GP – Max Verstappen dominates to take sixteenth win of the season thirteen seconds ahead of Lewis Hamilton

Testing & Race Reports

Max Verstappen dominated the Mexico City Grand Prix and set a new record of sixteen wins in a season after beating Lewis Hamilton by thirteen seconds. The Red Bull driver took the lead at the start sweeping his way past both Ferrari’s into the first corner.

In what is a season for the history books Verstappen put in another dominant performance in what was a race off two halves following a huge crash for Kevin Magnussen at half distance which brought out the red flag. Hamilton in the last two races looked to be Verstappen’s nearer challenge despite being thirteen second behind.

With a third successive drivers’ title already sealed, the win takes Verstappen past the record he set last season with three races still to come in the current campaign, while a fifty-first career victory moves him level with Alain Prost in fourth on the sport’s all-time list of winners.

The Red Bull driver made a perfect starts, the key one being the one on the restart following Magnussen’s huge crash which looked to be caused by something breaking on the rear of the Haas. That sent the Haas hurdling towards the barriers, and bringing out the red flag and paused the race for half an hour.

Magnussen was uninjured, and the race was soon red flagged for repairs to be made to the barriers, with Verstappen leading from Leclerc, Hamilton, Sainz, Russell and Ricciardo. It did hand every driver a free extra stop midway through the race as the red flag came out.

Hamilton worked his way up from sixth before under cutting Charles Leclerc to take second at the pit stop, he then managed to retain the lead at the restart fending off Leclerc following the red flag. The Monacan finishing four seconds ahead of his Ferrari teammate Carlos Sainz.

Key in Hamilton finishing second was leap frogging Sainz at the first stops and during the second stint he was able to chase down Leclerc and take second. The seven-time champion maybe hoping the chaotic and unpredictability of Interlagos allow him a chance to repeat what teammate George Russell did last year and take his first win in nearly two years.

Verstappen said, “It’s been incredible, Unfortunately Checo retired on Lap One but the crowd stayed and they have been amazing. To be honest we are experiencing an incredible season. Again the pace of the car was very good. We tried to do a different strategy from anyone else but unfortunately with the red flag we couldn’t show it.”

Hamilton said, “I feel fresh, we weren’t having to push crazy hard out there. It was a great result considering we started sixth. I’m really proud of the team. It’s been a difficult couple of weeks and to bounce back from last weekend with the end result. This is really well done.”

At the start, Leclerc had taken out home favourite Sergio Perez at Turn One as he tagged him after gaining a slipstream off Verstappen. Contact was  inevitable and Perez was pitched off and soon into retirement with major sidepod damage, while Leclerc sustained a broken front wing endplate. That also allowed Verstappen to build his lead.

Perez who is attempting to seal Red Bull’s first-ever one-two in the drivers’ championship, saw his advantage over Hamilton reduced to twenty points after retiring from his home race after a first-corner collision with Leclerc, who overcame damage to his front wing to take third ahead of Sainz.

In the closing laps Sainz fended off an attack from the Mercedes of George Russell, who appeared to hound the back of the Ferrari, but that fight allowed Lando Norris to close up. The McLaren driver making an impressive move with four laps to go, as he cut back across through the Turn Four-Five chicane to take fifth.

Norris had risen through the field after being knocked out in Q1 starting nineteen for the first start, then following the second start continued to make up ground with impressive overtakes to make up nine positions following the restart. But it wasn’t straight forward he had to repeat the gains after being bogged down and dropping back due to a poor restart.

A majestic race for Norris, starting on the soft tyres to make ground early on, moving on to the hard, and then switching to mediums at the red flag. After he struggled to get a reprehensive lap in during Q1 yesterday. Norris picked off several drivers through the race.

Perhaps the most impressive on former teammate Daniel Ricciardo around the outside of Turn Four, he then set off and went down the inside into fifth passing Russell on the inside despite the very short run to Six, the end of a complex of slow-speed corners.

Russell soon had to go on the defensive as Ricciardo wasn’t far behind, but held him off to finish half a second ahead. Oscar Piastri was eighth the second McLaren a second and a half behind his fellow Australian. Both Aussies putting in strong performances, Ricciardo allowing his Alpha Tauri team to move from last to eighth in the constructors.

Alex Albon scored more points for Williams finishing ninth three seconds ahead of the two Alpines, with Esteban Ocon beating his teammate Pierre Gasly by four seconds almost to take the final point. Gasly’s former Alpha Tauri teammate Yuki Tsunoda was over ten seconds behind.

Nico Hulkenberg was thirteenth, the Haas driver did put in a strong defence before losing out to Gasly and Tsunoda. Valtteri Bottas and Guanyu Zhou were the final finishers, the Finn beating his Alfa Romeo teammate by nearly a second as they rounded out the finisher.

It was another nightmare race for Aston Martin, Lance Stroll classified seventeenth but joined his teammate Fernand Alonso in retirement following a late contact with Bottas. The incident currently under investigation.


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