Red Bull’s Max Verstappen took a dominant victory on Sunday after failing to become the youngest ever polesitter on Saturday. Lewis Hamilton failed to make it to the podium but managed to clinch his fifth Formula 1 title.
This year’s Mexican Grand Prix was the first Grand Prix which saw Red Bull locking the front row in Formula 1’s turbo-hybrid era. Max Verstappen narrowly missed out on becoming the youngest ever polesitter on Saturday. Lewis Hamilton and Sebastian Vettel qualified P3 and P4 respectively.
Everyone was expecting Hamilton to be cautious during this race; Lewis would win the championship if Vettel doesn’t win, or in case of a Vettel victory he’d only need 5 points from the race. But at the start of the race, Lewis quickly attacked Daniel Ricciardo to take P2 as Verstappen took the lead.
Esteban Ocon had trouble on Lap 1; his collision with Nico Hulkenberg lead to him having to pit for a new front wing. Fernando Alonso’s McLaren collected debris from Esteban’s hit and the Spaniard had to retire from the race on Lap 5 triggering a VSC period in the process.
The race resumed on Lap 6. Hamilton started struggling with his tyres after that. Mercedes pitted both their drivers at the end of Lap 11. Hamilton emerged fifth, Bottas found himself eighth. Red Bull’s Daniel Ricciardo pitted on the next lap and came back behind Hamilton. The undercut worked for Mercedes but it was not enough for Lewis to come close to Verstappen who pitted one lap after Daniel’s stop. After Mercedes and Red Bull’s stops, the Ferraris were running in P1 and P2 with Vettel in the lead.
Ferrari tried to extend the stints of their drivers with a one-stop strategy in mind. However, the attempt proved to be costly when Verstappen overtook Kimi Raikkonen on Lap 15, and Lewis and Danny also passing him on Lap 17. Ferrari pitted both cars a lap later.
On Lap 31, Carlos Sainz’s Renault suffered a complete shutdown and instantiated another VSC period. Vettel started his charge on Daniel Ricciardo after the VSC ended. He overtook him after a splendid move under braking for the first corner. The German was now chasing Lewis Hamilton who was four seconds ahead.
The Mercedes couldn’t keep its tyres alive and Sebastian was able to catch up to Lewis on Lap 39. He swept across Hamilton, who locked up and went off-track, at the same place where he overtook Ricciardo. Kimi overtook Valtteri in the same way with the latter also locking up and skating across the grass. Mercedes brought both cars into the pits.
Local hero Sergio Perez had to retire on Lap 41 with a gearbox problem.
With Mercedes out of the picture, the focus shifted to Vettel and his bid to catch up with the Red Bull duo. Sebastian went in for a fresh set of Ultrasofts and this undercut brought him within 10 seconds of Verstappen once Red Bull brought the Dutch in for fresh Supersofts. Ricciardo stayed out and kept track position ahead of Vettel. Disaster struck for the Australian on Lap 62 when smoke started coming from his car and it stopped on Turn 1. It was his eighth retirement this season.
Max Verstappen and Nico Hulkenberg were quick to ask their teams to conserve their engines after Ricciardo’s retirement. Luckily for Max, it all went right and he was able to score his second victory of the season. Sebastian Vettel and Kimi Raikkonen completed the podium.
Hamilton was frustrated with Mercedes’ lack of pace compared to its rivals. He finished fourth, secured the title in the process, and went on to celebrate with donuts around the track.
Nico Hulkenberg executed a one-stop strategy and finished top of ‘Class B’. Marcus Ericsson made it a double-points finish for Sauber in ninth to vault the Swiss team above Toro Rosso into eighth in the constructors’ championship.
|1||Max Verstappen||Red Bull||TAG||–|
|5||Valtteri Bottas||Mercedes||Mercedes||1 L|
|6||Nico Hulkenberg||Renault||Renault||2 L|
|7||Charles Leclerc||Sauber||Ferrari||2 L|
|8||Stoffel Vandoorne||McLaren||Renault||2 L|
|9||Marcus Ericsson||Sauber||Ferrari||2 L|
|10||Pierre Gasly||Toro Rosso||Honda||2 L|
|11||Esteban Ocon||Force India||Mercedes||2 L|
|12||Brendon Hartley||Toro Rosso||Honda||2 L|
|13||Lance Stroll||Williams||Mercedes||2 L|
|14||Sergey Sirotkin||Williams||Mercedes||2 L|
|15||Kevin Magnussen||Haas||Ferrari||2 L|
|16||Romain Grosjean||Haas||Ferrari||3 L|
|Daniel Ricciardo||Red Bull||TAG|
|Sergio Perez||Force India||Mercedes|
|Carlos Sainz Jr.||Renault||Renault|