The Mexican Grand Prix was a strategic race that saw Max Verstappen win in front of his team-mate’s beloved home crowd to take his 14th win of the season and break the record once held by Michael Schumacher and Sebastian Vettel, AUTO ACTION’s Reese Mouton reports. ..
Starting from pole position, Max Verstappen pulled off his dream breakaway, holding the lead until the first corner.
At the end of the opening lap, the world champion was more than 1.3 seconds behind the leading Mercedes.
Lewis Hamilton clawed back one place at the start, getting the better of his team-mate, who over-ambitiously took too many curbs at turn three.
To add salt to George Russell’s wounds, Sergio Perez’s late-night skills saw him blast past the Mercedes driver in front of his adoring home crowd.
Both Daniel Ricciardo and Lando Norris lost positions on the first lap, Ricciardo starting 11th and battling for 13th, while Norris, who started 8th, was 10 behind Esteban Ocon -th place.
As for tire selection, most of the grid participants started their start with medium-sized tires.
From the front runners, both the Red Bulls and Ferraris opted to start on soft tyres, while Mercedes started on yellow-marked rubber.
Despite this, Hamilton posted a faster lap time than Verstappen on the faster line-up.
Pierre Gasly and Lance Stroll battled hard and their race culminated when Gasly locked up next to the Aston Martin, pushing it onto the track where the overtake ended.
After an investigation by the stewards, Gasly received a 5-second penalty for overtaking and failing to regain position.
The Grand Prix quickly turned into a four-horse race, with the Ferraris trailing Russell by more than 10 seconds on lap 20.
Verstappen’s tires began to fail, namely his front left, which the Dutchman said was against the turn, but Perez was the first Red Bull to pit.
The Mexican came out behind Leclerc after a stop that saw him delay by 5 seconds.
Both Hamilton and Verstappen complained of car problems. Verstappen reported gear shifting problems in his RB18, while Hamilton’s W13 suffered the same engine shutdowns and loss of power as earlier in the weekend.
Both Ferraris stopped. Leclerc produced a perfect stop, remaining stationary for 2.3 seconds, while Sainz in the leading Ferrari was delayed for 3.5 seconds due to a problem with his front right tyre.
Both F1-75s opted for medium-sized tires, locking them into the two-stop race.
At the halfway point of the race, Verstappen led by 7.8 seconds ahead of a DRS-threatened Hamilton from Perez, with Russell, who was following the up-and-out order, behind.
Carlos Sainz led the Ferrari charge. The Spaniard overtook Valtteri Bottas on the home straight before making an impressive move against compatriot Fernando Alonso to move himself back up to fifth.
After the stop, Bottas stayed within DRS range of Ocon on the junior tires for 6 laps.
The Alpine was in the Alfa Romeo sandwich as Ocon trailed behind Zhou Guanyu.
Down the main straight, Ocon and Bottas passed Zhou as they continued to battle in the clean air before they were shown the blue flags for the oncoming Verstappen.
Daniel Ricciardo collided with Yuki Tsunoda, creating a gap that was not there before the move could be made. When he tried to go to the pits for a new wing and tires, the damage proved to be final, forcing the Japanese pilot to retire. Ricciardo received a 10-second penalty for causing the collision.
McLaren instructed Norris to let the Australian pass after he showed strong pace to overtake Bottas and both Alpines in the laps following his incident with Tsunoda.
On lap 65, Alonso suffered an engine failure, forcing him to retire at Turn 1, triggering a VSC that ended one lap later.
Under the checkered flag, Max Verstappen crossed the line in first place, more than 15 seconds ahead of Lewis Hamilton in second.
Much to the delight of the enthusiastic crowd, Sergio Perez joined his teammate on the podium after finishing his home Grand Prix in third place.
The grid will have one week off before heading to Brazil for the final race in the Americas this season before the final round in Abu Dhabi.
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