Lewis Hamilton made it back-to-back victories by taking the chequered flag in the Mexican Grand Prix to keep his Formula 1 championship fight with Nico Rosberg alive.
As in the United States last weekend, Hamilton spearheaded another Mercedes one-two, finishing 8.3 seconds clear of Rosberg to close the gap to 19 points with two races remaining.
Rosberg had a scare on lap 50 when Red Bull Racing’s Max Verstappen dived down the inside into Turn 4 after Rosberg had made a small mistake at Turn 1.
Verstappen locked up as he made the pass, sliding past Rosberg and getting out of shape, allowing the Mercedes driver to get back through into second.
After that, Verstappen slid back into the clutches of Sebastian Vettel, and on lap 68 the youngest locked up at Turn 1 and took to the grass to hold onto his third position.
The race stewards handed a Verstappen a five-second time penalty soon after the chequered flag, enough to drop him to fifth place, meaning he had to leave the cool-down room as he prepared to take the podium.
That promoted Vettel – who was very angry on the radio at Verstappen and the FIA before the penalty – to third position.
The stewards will investigate another incident involving Vettel and the other Red Bull of Daniel Ricciardo as they fight for fourth into Turn 4 on lap 69, touching wheels as the Ferrari held the position.
Up until those moments, the race at the front had been uneventful, with Hamilton maintaining the lead as Rosberg tried to keep a safe gap in second.
After Hamilton stopped on lap 17 Rosberg led for three laps before his stop, with Vettel then taking over for seven laps before taking on new rubber, with Hamilton regaining the lead after 31 laps from which there was no looking back.
For the second race running a good start off the line from pole gave Hamilton his platform for the victory, although he did suffer a significant lock up with his right-front wheel into Turn 1.
That resulted in Hamilton taking a trip across the grass and cutting out Turn 2 completely, while Rosberg also went off the track at Turn 2 under attack from Verstappen.
Further back, Esteban Gutierrez tagged Manor’s Pascal Wehrlein, who in turn spun into Marcus Ericsson in his Sauber, sending both off track, with the Manor driver retiring immediately.
Toro Rosso’s Carlos Sainz earned himself a five-second time penalty for forcing fellow Spaniard Fernando Alonso off track in his McLaren on the run from Turn 3 to Turn 4.
With debris on the track, and Wehrlein’s stricken car, the safety car was deployed at the end of lap one, staying out for two laps.
Red Bull made an early tactical gamble, bringing in Ricciardo immediately and stripping him of the super-soft tyre and sending him on a long stint on mediums, dropping him to P17.
Ricciardo pitted again after 50 laps for a late run on softs, claiming fourth pending the stewards’ investigation, with Verstappen fifth.
Ferrari’s Kimi Raikkonen was sixth, with Force India’s Nico Hulkenberg seventh, with the German surviving a late spin after tangling with The Iceman.
Williams duo Valtteri Bottas and Felipe Massa were eighth and ninth, with home hero Sergio Perez tenth.
The championship may not have been settled at Mexico but the fight goes on for Brazil. If Nico Rosberg wins the race at Interlagos, then the Mercedes driver will be champion unless Lewis Hamilton has other ideas. Game on!
Mexican Grand Prix, race results after 71 laps:
1 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 71 1h40m31.402s
2 Nico Rosberg Mercedes 71 8.354s
3 Sebastian Vettel Ferrari 71 17.313s
4 Daniel Ricciardo Red Bull-Renault 71 20.858s
5 Max Verstappen Red Bull-Renault 71 21.323s
6 Kimi Raikkonen Ferrari 71 49.376s
7 Nico Hulkenberg Force India-Mercedes 71 58.891s
8 Valtteri Bottas Williams-Mercedes 71 1m05.612s
9 Felipe Massa Williams-Mercedes 71 1m16.206s
10 Sergio Perez Force India-Mercedes 71 1m16.798s
11 Marcus Ericsson Sauber-Ferrari 70 1 Lap
12 Jenson Button McLaren-Honda 70 1 Lap
13 Fernando Alonso McLaren-Honda 70 1 Lap
14 Jolyon Palmer Renault 70 1 Lap
15 Felipe Nasr Sauber-Ferrari 70 1 Lap
16 Carlos Sainz Toro Rosso-Ferrari 70 1 Lap
17 Kevin Magnussen Renault 70 1 Lap
18 Daniil Kvyat Toro Rosso-Ferrari 70 1 Lap
19 Esteban Gutierrez Haas-Ferrari 70 1 Lap
20 Romain Grosjean Haas-Ferrari 70 1 Lap
21 Esteban Ocon Manor-Mercedes 69 2 Laps
– Pascal Wehrlein Manor-Mercedes 0 Collision
1 Nico Rosberg 349
2 Lewis Hamilton 330
3 Daniel Ricciardo 239
4 Sebastian Vettel 192
5 Kimi Raikkonen 178
6 Max Verstappen 175
7 Sergio Perez 85
8 Valtteri Bottas 85
9 Nico Hulkenberg 60
10 Fernando Alonso 52
11 Felipe Massa 51
12 Carlos Sainz 38
13 Romain Grosjean 29
14 Daniil Kvyat 25
15 Jenson Button 21
16 Kevin Magnussen 7
17 Jolyon Palmer 1
18 Pascal Wehrlein 1
19 Stoffel Vandoorne 1
20 Esteban Gutierrez 0
21 Marcus Ericsson 0
22 Felipe Nasr 0
23 Rio Haryanto 0
24 Esteban Ocon 0
1 Mercedes 679
2 Red Bull-Renault 422
3 Ferrari 370
4 Force India-Mercedes 145
5 Williams-Mercedes 136
6 McLaren-Honda 74
7 Toro Rosso-Ferrari 55
8 Haas-Ferrari 29
9 Renault 8
10 Manor-Mercedes 1
11 Sauber-Ferrari 0
Next race: Brazilian Grand Prix, Interlagos. November.