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Mexico City Grand Prix: F1 Race Results

Did a surprise qualifying result prevent Red Bull from crushing the opposition?

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Max Verstappen took victory in Mexico City, setting a new record for wins in a season. 

The first corner in Mexico City was fast and controversial, with a big name retirement (Image Credit: Red Bull Content Pool/Getty Images)
The first corner in Mexico City was fast and controversial, with a big-name retirement (Image Credit: Red Bull Content Pool/Getty Images)
Pre-race

The sun beamed down onto the Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez as F1 prepared for its feature event of the weekend. A sellout crowd chanted their hero’s name, Sergio Perez, hoping for a home victory. Perez arrived on the grid knowing he would need to dig deep to win from P5 on the grid.

Qualifying proved to be a contradiction of practice pace. Williams and Alex Albon defined this enduring a nightmare Saturday after their early pace disappeared. Logan Sargeant’s ten-place grid penalty compounded a terrible qualifying for the team.

Aston Martin’s struggles showed no sign of abating after Lance Stroll’s Q1 exit. P18 became a pit lane start after the team changed multiple parts on his car overnight.

Ferrari, by contrast, enjoyed a sudden burst of pace after a quiet Friday to lock out the front row. Surprising Red Bull and Max Verstappen, all eyes were on pole sitter Charles Leclerc and teammate Carlos Sainz to see what tactics they would employ off the start line.

Eyes, too, were on Lando Norris. His McLaren got knocked out in Q1 and had a busy afternoon ahead to move up the order on a track known for its lack of overtaking opportunities. One car Norris needed to overtake to keep his run of podiums intact was driver of qualifying, Daniel Ricciardo. The Australian lined up an impressive P4 on the grid in his AlphaTauri, looking to show his poor performance in Austin was a one-off.

Extensive tyre management was predicted due to the high altitude and high temperatures. No one knew if their cooling solutions were correct, as the power units would also struggle. As a patriotic Mexican National Anthem stirred the soul of the crowd, the drivers prepared for the long drag race down to turn one.

Lights out

The Ferraris got off the line well, but Max Verstappen drove between the two red cars. Sergio Perez tried to drive around the outside, but three cars into one corner did not work.

The home hero became airborne, clattering back onto the ground after colliding with Leclerc, the Ferrari trapped in a Red Bull sandwich. Returning to the pits, he was out and struggling to hold back the tears as he saw his chances of a strong race result evaporate. Leclerc continued but with a damaged front wing. He continued, but the stewards announced they would investigate Leclerc after the race for driving with an unsafe car.

Further back, Piastri had to defend hard from the Mercedes of George Russell but stayed ahead. Teammate Norris enjoyed a strong start, moving to P15. Daniel Ricciardo managed to hold position, staying in P4.

The Virtual Safety car made a quick appearance on lap 5 to allow the debris to be cleared.

Tyre management galore

As the race settled into its early phases, it became apparent the drivers were all managing pace. Max Verstappen began to disappear into the distance, business as usual very much on the cards for the World Champion.

A number of battles were forming down the field, but few dared to overtake, concerns over the tyres and cooling causing drivers to air on the side of caution. The closest battle was between Lewis Hamilton’s Mercedes and the AlphaTauri of Daniel Ricciardo, the Mercedes passing the Australian on lap 11.

Norris pitted on lap 12, swapping his soft tyres for hards, following concerns from his pit wall that he needed to pull to the right to cool his power unit. He and Yuki Tsuonda were the fastest cars on the circuit, the second AlphaTauri also opting to pit. Clean air allowed them to push. The front runners approached the pit window, the need for tyre management continuing.

Battles and a red flag

Following warnings from his team about riding the kerbs, Max Verstappen pitted on lap 19, the World Champion complaining his medium tyres had given up. It looked like an ambitious strategy, the aim being to take the hard tyres to the end of the race.

Following his stop, he began carving his way through the field. While others needed to manage their tyres, Verstappen could push. So, too, could Norris, forcing his way past Fernando Alonso to move up to P16, beginning a charge through the pack. The laps in clean air benefitted him and Tsunoda, the extra traction clearly on display.

Hamilton pitted on lap 25 in an attempt to undercut the Ferrari of Carlos Sainz. Ferrari opted not to respond and extend the Spaniard’s stint. A risky manoeuvre given the pace difference between new hard tyres and used mediums, Ferrari’s strategy was once again called into question. Max Verstappen moved into P2 on lap 29, his car in a different league.

Further back, drivers began to push for their stops and to pass their rivals. Russell and Piastri stopped, with the McLaren keeping the advantage over the Mercedes. The medium tyres runners now began to really struggle, with Sainz changing tactics, opting to pit on lap 30, Lerclerc pitting one lap later, relinquishing the lead to Verstappen. Although he kept track position over Hamilton’s Mercedes, the gap was now significantly reduced.

Kevin Magnussen then suffered a high-speed crash at turn nine after a car failure, bringing out the Safety Car. Verstappen pitted for more fresh hard tyres, increasing his advantage.

The Safety Car allowed the remaining medium runners to get an easy pit stop. However, the extensive barrier damage needed a red flag to repair. A potential advantage for Verstappen and Norris suddenly disappeared but allowed Ferrari to repair Leclerc’s front wing. The cars pulled into the pits for a long wait.

Tyre changes galore took place under the red flag, the front runners dividing their strategies. Hamilton opted for scrubbed medium tyres, Verstappen sticking with his hard tyres. With original strategies discarded, the restart was eagerly anticipated.

Standing start leads to battles resuming

Verstappen got off the grid well. Leclerc and Hamilton tried to pass the Red Bull, but Verstappen led into the first corner. The top three remained in formation for the first lap of the restart.

Down the order, George Russell collided with Daniel Ricciardo, but both continued. Norris endured a torrid start, undoing all of his work in the first half of the race. Now P14, his afternoon looked difficult.

Lap 39 saw intense battles take shape, with Piastri passing Tsunoda but unable to shake off the AlphaTauri. Hamilton then dived down the inside of Leclerc on the next lap, taking a very small amount of grass to pass the Ferrari. Attempting to win the race, the Mercedes set off after the Red Bull of Verstappen. But the Red Bull was uncatchable.

The second Mercedes and Ferrari were also locked in a duel. The advantage remained with Sainz and Ferrari, Russell seemingly unable to pass. Their battle allowed Daniel Ricciardo to enter the fray, with Ricciardo moving within DRS range of Russell.

Alex Albon attempted to salvage something for Williams in Mexico, running in P9. But Norris once also on a charge and moved into P10 on lap 47, passing the Williams two laps later. A solitary point was now the best the team could hope for. But the struggle of Williams paled next to Aston Martin, Fernando Alonso becoming the third retirement of the afternoon.

Piastri and Tsunoda’s battle reached boiling point on lap 49. After light contact on the previous lap, Tsunoda collided with the McLaren and spun. Both continued, but AlphaTauri’s hope of a double points finish suddenly evaporated, robbing the team of a chance to lift itself off the bottom of the constructors’ championship.

Further back, Gasly and Bottas pushed hard for P12, Bottas unable to get his Alfa Romeo passed the Alpine. Esteban Ocon warned his team on the radio that he would push hard against the Haas of Nico Hulkenberg but, like his teammate, could not pass.

A dash to the finish with high-stakes

As the race entered its closing stages, McLaren swapped their drivers, with Norris hoping to pass former teammate Daniel Ricciardo. With points available to the teams in the lower positions of the championship, driver etiquette was also a discussion point during the race. Williams and Haas both looked to benefit, but AlphaTauri were in prime position.

Although Norris passed Ricciardo on lap 61, the 6-point haul for the team was invaluable and could see the team leap above Alfa Romeo in the standings.

Ocon and Gasly were now stuck behind Hulkenberg, the Haas enjoying strong straight-line speed but with low grip. Ocon eventually passed Hulkenberg, denying Haas points.

Albon continued to run well in P9, with a slender margin over Hulkenberg but was unable to challenge Piastri ahead of him. Putting in his personal best lap on lap 66, he looked set for another strong finish.

Bottas and Stroll then collided, completing a terrible afternoon for the Aston Martin and a double retirement. The stewards announced they would look at the incident after the race.

Further up the road, Norris took advantage of Russell getting out of shape, moving into P5. Ricciardo closed in on Russell and pushed hard to pass the Mercedes, but Russell beat him by just half a second.

Max Verstappen took the chequered flag 15 seconds ahead of Lewis Hamilton, winning 16 races in a single season, breaking his own record set last year. Charles Leclerc took the final podium spot. Sainz was P4, Norris P5, Russell P6, Ricciardo P7, Piastri P8, Albon P9, with Ocon completing the top ten.

Final Classification

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.Feature Image Credit: Red Bull Content Pool/Getty Images 

 

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