Hamilton edges closer to title following Mexico victory

Lewis Hamilton is one step closer to winning title number six after recovering from a first-lap off to win the Mexican Grand Prix.

The Mercedes driver had a trip across the grass at the start and fell down to fifth position. But the defending champion did a solid job in managing the tyres to overhaul the Ferraris and score his tenth victory of the season.

Sebastian Vettel was unable to attack Hamilton after losing track position through race strategy and had to settle for second, with Valtteri Bottas third.

Poleman and early race leader Charles Leclerc fell down to fourth as a two-stop strategy cost him dearly.

Ferrari had control of the Mexican Grand Prix in the early stages despite Leclerc getting a small touch by Vettel after running wide under braking for the Turn 4 left-hander and slowing right down through the tight right-hand turn that followed.

Behind, though, Hamilton had already suffered an early setback as Max Verstappen challenged him on the inside into the first corner.

Hamilton had already been crowded out by Vettel on the run down to Turn 1, a move he branded “dangerous” but one that was not investigated by the race officials.

At the first corner, Hamilton ran wide and had a big snap of oversteer on the outside kerb, which lurched his car to the right and put him and Verstappen on the grass between the Turns 2 and 3 section.

The incident dropped Hamilton to fifth position behind Alex Albon’s Red Bull and the McLaren of Carlos Sainz, while Verstappen fell to eighth, behind Lando Norris and Bottas.

Hamilton passed Sainz into Turn 1 on lap four then ran fourth through the rest of his opening stint, which he extended to lap 23 – eight more than race leader Leclerc and nine more than Albon, both of whom committed to a two-stop strategy.

However, Vettel – who assumed the race lead when Leclerc stopped – and Bottas extended their first stints 13 and 14 laps longer than Hamilton respectively.

Hamilton’s early stop allowed him to jump Vettel for track position, although the major tyre offset meant the five-time world champion was fearful he would not be able to defend once Vettel pitted.

However, by the time Leclerc and Albon had made their second stops and left Hamilton leading the race from Vettel, Hamilton kept his pursuer more than two seconds behind for the next 20 laps.

During that time, Bottas closed right up onto the back of Vettel, while Leclerc used his fresher tyres after his second stop to hack into the gap to the one-stopping trio ahead.

With 12 laps to go Leclerc had almost hauled himself within DRS range of Bottas but locked his front-left tyre into Turn 4 and ran wide, which doubled his deficit.

Ahead, Vettel closed to within two seconds of Hamilton for the first time with eight laps remaining, but Hamilton hit back immediately and continued to keep the Ferrari out of range.

Hamilton’s win, with Bottas third, extended his championship by 10 points but he needed to add 14 points over Bottas to clinch his sixth title.

That means Hamilton, who now has a 74-point lead with 78 available in the final three races.

Behind the top four, Albon was fifth after arguably his strongest performance for Red Bull, with teammate Verstappen fighting back to sixth after a mammoth 66-lap stint on hard tyres.

Verstappen’s race was wrecked early on when, after being forced off by Hamilton, he suffered a right-rear puncture shortly after lunging Bottas for seventh into the stadium section.

Max made it back to the pits with the tyre stripped from the rim of his Red Bull and dropped to last, before gradually rising back up the order with no further pitstops and supreme tyre management.

Home favourite Sergio Perez resisted a charging Daniel Ricciardo to secure best-of-the-rest honours in seventh position.

Nico Hulkenberg was poised to finish ninth in the Renault, but was hit into a spin by Daniil Kvyat on the final lap and rear-ended the barriers.

Kvyat claimed ninth ahead of teammate Pierre Gasly but was handed a 10-second penalty after the race, dropping to P11 behind Hulkenberg.

McLaren looked on course for another best-of-the-rest victory early on but Sainz faded badly after switching to hard tyres, to the point he stopped again to switch to mediums and wound up P13.

Teammate Lando Norris retired following a bad pitstop in which a wheel was improperly attached.

So congratulations to Lewis Hamilton and Mercedes with this Mexican success. This was Hamilton’s 100 podium result and the team’s 100th victory. Impressive form by the Silver Arrows.

Mexican Grand Prix, race results:
1 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 1:36:48.904
2 Sebastian Vettel Ferrari +1.766
3 Valtteri Bottas Mercedes +3.553
4 Charles Leclerc Ferrari +6.368
5 Alex Albon Red Bull-Honda +21.399
6 Max Verstappen Red Bull-Honda +68.807s
7 Sergio Perez Racing Point-Mercedes +73.819s
8 Daniel Ricciardo Renault +74.924s
9 Federation Daniil Kvyat Toro Rosso-Honda +1 lap
10 Pierre Gasly Toro Rosso-Honda +1 lap
11 Nico Hulkenberg Renault +1 lap
12 Lance Stroll Racing Point-Mercedes +1 lap
13 Carlos Sainz Jr. McLaren-Renault +1 lap
14 Antonio Giovinazzi Alfa Romeo-Ferrari +1 lap
15 Kevin Magnussen Haas-Ferrari +2 laps
16 George Russell Williams-Mercedes +2 laps
17 Romain Grosjean Haas-Ferrari +2 laps
18 Robert Kubica Williams-Mercedes +2 laps
– Kimi Raikkonen Alfa Romeo-Ferrari DNF
– Lando Norris McLaren-Renault DNF

3 thoughts to “Hamilton edges closer to title following Mexico victory”

  1. Mexican Grand Prix race review as reported by Formula1.com.

    Lewis Hamilton triumphed in a nail-biting finale to the Mexican Grand Prix, brilliantly making an ambitious one-stop strategy work to win out from Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel and his Mercedes team mate Valtteri Bottas – although it wasn’t quite enough for the Briton to secure his sixth drivers’ title over Bottas at the Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez.

    Hamilton superbly eked out the tyre life out of his hard rubber, making a 48-lap stint work to take his second win in Mexico, and Mercedes’ 100th as a constructor – although it was the first time in three years that he hasn’t claimed the title in Mexico City.

    A slow second pit stop helped consign early race leader Charles Leclerc to fourth, ahead of the Red Bull of Alex Albon in fifth.

    Having lost his pole position yesterday, Max Verstappen endured a disastrous Mexican Grand Prix, with Lap 4 contact with Bottas – after first-lap contact with Hamilton – causing a puncture that saw him forced to recover to a distant sixth place, behind his Red Bull team mate Albon after a mammoth 66-lap stint on hard tyres.

    Home hero Sergio Perez drove a fine race to finish ‘best of the rest’ for Racing Point in seventh, holding off the late charge of Renault’s Daniel Ricciardo, while the Toro Rosso pair of Daniil Kvyat and Pierre Gasly finished ninth and 10th on the road – but only after late contact between Kvyat and Nico Hulkenberg that saw the Renault driver end up clattering into the Turn 16 wall and losing his rear wing.

    The stewards had a look, and decided to issue a 10-second penalty to the Russian, dropping him back to 11th, with Hulkenberg classified 10th to mark a double points-scoring day for Renault as rivals McLaren endured their first non-score since Belgium.

    Both Ferraris fairly matched each other off the start, launching away from the team’s record 65th front-row lock-out – earned after Verstappen’s pole demotion on Saturday – while Hamilton’s getaway from third was searing. As he swept left, though, his progress was arrested by a rather cheeky squeeze from Vettel.

    As Leclerc led Vettel into Turn 1, Verstappen and Hamilton went through the corner behind side-by-side. As they both struggled for grip, their cars swinging wildly, they made light contact, both running off the track and allowing Albon and Sainz to sweep past into third and fourth, Hamilton re-joining in fifth, Verstappen eighth. There was brief contact, too, between the Ferrari pair, Vettel lightly running into the back of his team mate as the Monegasque appeared to dawdle on the apex on Turn 3.

    Further back, meanwhile, Kimi Raikkonen found himself in a George Russell/Kevin Magnussen sandwich, with the resulting debris from that and Hamilton vs Verstappen briefly bringing out a Virtual Safety Car.

    If Verstappen had been annoyed by losing pole and then his contact with Hamilton, he would have been livid on Lap 4 when, with racing having resumed, he nailed Bottas into the Foro Sol stadium, only for the Finn to lightly tag his right-rear. The resulting puncture only manifested after the Dutchman had passed the pits, meaning a whole lap around for Verstappen with his tyre delaminating, the eventual pit stop bringing him out plum last. His third successive win in Mexico was clearly not to be…

    Having comfortably run in third – the first time he’d ever reached such lofty heights – Albon was the first of the frontrunners to pit on Lap 15, with Leclerc going in a lap later from the lead, both drivers putting on a second set of mediums, indicating their intention to two-stop.

    We were then treated to an intense strategic showdown. Hamilton was the next of the top drivers to pit, putting on hard tyres on Lap 24 for what would be his sole stop of the race, his out-lap then compromised by his old karting buddy Robert Kubica, who’d punchily passed his Williams team mate Russell for P18, and didn’t appear in the mood to cede track position.

    Speaking of moods, Hamilton didn’t appear to be in a great one, several times calling Mercedes’ strategy to pit him so early into question, and eventually forcing Chief Strategist James Vowles to step in and reassure him over team radio.

    Up in first and second, Vettel and Bottas had committed to going long and one-stopping, Bottas eventually bringing his Merc in for hards on Lap 37, matched by Vettel a lap later. With Leclerc and Albon taking their second stops on Lap 44 and 45 – Leclerc stationary for a painfully long time, as his Ferrari mechanics struggled to affix his right-rear hard tyre – we were then set up for a scintillating grand finale.

    With 10 laps to go, it was an edgy Hamilton leading by three seconds from a tightly bunched, fresher-tyred pack of Vettel, Bottas and Leclerc, Albon eight seconds adrift in fifth, with Verstappen having clawed his way back into P6, over half a minute further back.

    But unfortunately for Vettel and Ferrari, Hamilton’s misgivings about his tyre life proved unfounded, the Briton with enough tyre life in hand to sweep through to his second victory in Mexico City – and the 55th time that he and Vettel had finished one-two – with the order in the top six unchanged by the chequered flag.

    Sergio Perez delighted him home fans by claiming a joint-best Mexico result of P7, having resisted a Daniel Ricciardo dive-bomb 10 laps from the end, the Australian eventually settling for eighth, having made a 50-lap first stint on the hard tyres work brilliantly for him from his frustrated P13 on the grid.

    There was controversy right at the end of the race however, with Daniil Kvyat appearing to dust off his ‘Torpedo’ sobriquet and clattering into Nico Hulkenberg’s Renault to claim P9, sending the German half-spinning into the wall and costing him a rear wing.

    The stewards immediately opened an investigation, though, and quickly issued Kvyat with a 10-second penalty that demoted him back to P11, with Hulkenberg classified 10th, Pierre Gasly claiming ninth.

    It was a bad day for McLaren, meanwhile, a two-stop strategy failing to yield the desired results for Carlos Sainz, who finished P13 (having run as high as fourth), while a botched pit stop for Lando Norris ruined his race, with McLaren eventually opting to retire him to save parts on Lap 48, Alfa Romeo doing the same thing to Kimi Raikkonen 10 laps later, taking him out of P15.

    Up at the front, though, Hamilton had once again triumphed over his doubts – as he did in Monaco, as he did in Hungary – to secure win his second Mexican Grand Prix win, as Mercedes swept to their 100th victory as a constructor on a weekend where they had appeared to be the third best team on the grid.

    Yes, the title fight drags on to Austin – but any disappointment Hamilton might have felt about that was assuaged by his first podium appearance here since 2016, and a mighty spectacular one too, as his W10 borne was aloft onto the rostrum, Hamilton standing proudly atop it, with win #83 in the bag.

  2. Mexican Grand Prix winner Lewis Hamilton admitted that the floor damage caused by Max Verstappen on the opening lap made this race a “struggle”. Motorsport.com has the full story.

    Lewis Hamilton admitted his charge to victory in the Mexican Grand Prix had been a “struggle” thanks to floor damage picked up on the opening lap of the race.

    The Mercedes driver pulled off an impressive long stint on hard tyres to snatch victory from pre-event favourite Ferrari after bouncing back from near calamity on the opening lap.

    Having lost momentum when forced wide by Sebastian Vettel on the charge down to the first corner, Hamilton then had a wild moment alongside Max Verstappen before Turn 2 – as the pair took to the grass.

    When he rejoined, he then had a brief battle with Carlos Sainz before he was finally able to regain his composure and push back to the front.

    But after the race, Hamilton made sure to inspect the broken right hand side of his floor – which had a big hole in it (seen in the photo above) as the result of the first-lap incidents – and he admitted things had been far from easy.

    “We came here thinking we were on the back foot knowing it was a difficult race for us, but we pulled through,” said Hamilton.

    “We had quite a bit of a damage on the car so the race was quite a bit of a struggle. I had to keep my head down. It seemed like a long second stint but I am so grateful for today.”

    Hamilton’s victory was made easier by gaining track position after making an earlier stop than race leader Sebastian Vettel to get the undercut.

    And although the expectation had been for Hamilton’s tyres to drop away, he kept things together – as Vettel admitted that Ferrari could have perhaps done a better job on strategy.

    “I think Lewis, he was just cruising for most of the second stint to the point where the pack was arriving and I guess he had enough tyres left,” said Vettel.

    “I am happy because I think it was a good race. But I think here or there maybe with strategy we could have been a bit sharper.”

    Although Hamilton took victory, Valtteri Bottas’s third place meant the Briton did not clinch the title on Sunday.

    Hamilton, who needs just four more points, seemed far from disappointed about having not wrapped it up already though.

    “I don’t mind,” he said. “I love racing and taking one race at a time. This is a race I have wanted to win for some time and it has always been a little bit tricky for us, so I am incredibly humbled by today’s opportunity.”

  3. Max Verstappen was left feeling “annoyed” that Lewis Hamilton wasn’t penalised too following their moment on the opening lap. Motorsport.com has the details.

    Red Bull Formula 1 driver Max Verstappen says he understands the penalty that cost him Mexican Grand Prix pole, but feels it’s “annoying” Lewis Hamilton wasn’t penalised as well.

    Verstappen was stripped of his pole at the Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez after receiving a three-place grid penalty for failing to slow sufficiently in response to a yellow flag thrown out for a crash for Valtteri Bottas at the final corner.

    Two other drivers besides Verstappen passed the site of Bottas’ crash on late flying laps in Q3, and while Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel lifted off the throttle, Hamilton – who ran immediately behind his teammate – did not appear to lift, albeit did not improve in that sector, unlike Verstappen.

    Speaking after the Mexican Grand Prix a day on, Verstappen accepted the penalty but questioned why Hamilton – who joined him on the second row and would go on to win the race – didn’t receive the same treatment.

    “The rule is very clear. The only thing I want to say about it from my side is, because there were a lot of comments about it, and looking back, for sure I should’ve lifted – but then everybody should do the same.

    “And I know Seb did the same, but one silver [Mercedes] car didn’t. And then he doesn’t get a penalty, and that annoys me as well. But it is what it is. I can’t decide for other drivers about the rules.”

    Hamilton had called on the FIA to be “very strict” in regards to Verstappen’s infraction – although the reigning champion was under the impression the Red Bull driver had ignored double-waved yellow flags, which would’ve been a more severe wrongdoing.

    While Bottas had crashed right ahead of Hamilton, the yellow flags were seemingly not being flown yet by the time the Briton had arrived at the scene.

    “Valtteri was just ahead of me and I saw bits on the ground, there was no flag at the time,” Hamilton has said after qualifying.

    “I was quite hesitant because obviously something had happened ahead. I hesitated getting back on power. By the time I’d realised there was a crash I was basically past it.”

    Despite the penalty, Verstappen believed a victory challenge was “still on” from fourth on the grid, but his race unravelled during early battles with Hamilton and Bottas – the former costing him track position and the latter yielding a right-rear puncture.

    “The start itself was good and then he [Hamilton] came back around the outside, he braked very deep into Turn 2, I had to go off the track – but okay, that can happen.

    “Afterwards with Valtteri I went up the inside and when I was alongside him, I guess he didn’t see me, he was already turning in and then he clipped me on my right rear.

    “I had to do a whole lap with a puncture. From there I had to do a one-stop, of course it was a very bad one-stop but it was our only option to come back to P6. The pace was good, the car was good – it’s a shame to not finish higher up.”

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