Victory for Verstappen in Mexico

Mexican Grand Prix Race Report 07/11/21

Verstappen took a demanding victory in Mexico, with teammate Perez taking a jubilant third place. A double podium for the team brings them just one point behind rivals Mercedes in the constructors’ championships.

For the race the two Mercedes lined up on the front row and got a good initial getaway, but it was Verstappen behind who benefitted the most. The Red Bull gained a slipstream behind Hamilton and managed to outbreak him around turn one to take the lead. Pole-sitter Bottas was unfortunately tagged by Ricciardo, which sent him into a spin. Both drivers had to pit and then dropped to the back of the field. More opening lap drama ensued as others tried to avoid the Ricciardo-Bottas incident. Namely, Tsunoda and Schumacher who—both collided with Ocon as they squeezed in on him from either side. A lucky Ocon continued the race, but Tsunoda and Schumacher both retired. The safety car was brought out for a few laps, to enable the marshalls to clear up the debris. Gainers from the start included Leclerc who moved up to fifth place, Giovinazzi in sixth, and Russell in ninth.

Verstappen soon took a dominating lead in the race, with Hamilton in second unable to catch his championship rival. Large gaps soon appeared between the cars throughout the grid—taking only 19 laps (out of 71) for the leader to catch and lap the slowest car on the track. The Mexican Grand Prix is by far the highest altitude race of the year and this has all sorts of effects on the car. One being difficulty in cooling the cars running closely behind other competitors—perhaps one reason we saw these large gaps appearing.

There were some overtakes throughout the race, mainly around the outside of turn one. Russell, with his great start was passed by rivals in more competitive cars, for instance. Some faster cars who started at the back with engine penalties moved their way forward passed slower cars—Stroll passing Latifi, Ocon passing Mazepin, and Norris getting past both of them both.

Unless there was a significant speed advantage though it seemed very difficult if at all possible, to pass another car. Vettel followed Giovinazzi closely for the opening section of the race with no way to pass—only gaining the position when the Alfa Romeo pitted. Infuriatingly for Bottas he spent pretty much the whole race closely following Ricciardo finding no way to pass the Mclaren.

With Hamilton not having the pace of Verstappen his main fight today was with crowd favorite Sergio Perez. The Mexican hunted Hamilton down twice—once in the opening stint, and once after the pit stops, but like others could just not find a way to pass. The closing stint of the race was somewhat reminiscent of Austin last time out, where Hamilton chased Verstappen down. This time it was Perez chasing Hamilton. The Mexican had better tires and pace than the Mercedes driver ahead, but ultimately just couldn’t pass on a track where overtaking is very difficult. Nonetheless, Perez became the first Mexican driver to stand on the podium of the Mexican Grand Prix, an achievement that was celebrated with more jubilation than some world championships!

Max Verstappen on his way to another F1 victory in Mexico

The Teams

Mercedes- Hamilton 2nd, Bottas 15th: The team got the best realistic result here with Hamilton. Red Bull had much better pace and to finish ahead of Perez was a great result for the team. A shame for Bottas who showed a faster pace than Hamilton, out-qualifying him on Saturday. Not his fault to have been clipped at the first corner, without that incident maybe a podium could have been on the cards for him. With Bottas out of contention for points, Mercedes pitted him late to go for the fastest lap, which he managed to secure on his second attempt. Although Bottas won’t receive the point as it is only rewarded to a driver if they finish in the top ten, it meant Verstappen—who had previously held the fastest lap of the race was denied the extra point.

Red Bull- Verstappen 1st, Perez 3rd: Great result for the team. Verstappen was untouchable today and had a performance no one else could match. Perez had a great race too and a double podium takes them only one point behind rivals Mercedes.

Ferrari- Leclerc 5th, Sainz 6th: Not a bad show for the Ferrari guys today. Leclerc got a great start which jumped him from eighth to fifth. The team swapped Sainz and Leclerc at one point—Sainz being on fresher tires, to try to catch Gasly ahead, but just didn’t have the pace. Good to see the drivers playing a team game though, and Ferrari swapping them back when Sainz was unable to catch Gasly.

Mclaren- Norris 10th, Ricciardo 12th: Norris had a consistent and strong race, managing to climb from eighteenth on the grid, after receiving an engine penalty to grab the final point. So a great recovery drive from him at a track where passing is very difficult. Ricciardo caught up in that first-lap chaos and managed to climb back to twelfth place.

Alpha Tauri- Gasly 4th, Tsunoda DNF: Tsunoda got caught up in the first lap mayhem too, but unfortunately for him the damage to the car was terminal. Gasly had a really strong race if a little bit lonely! He didn’t have the pace of those ahead but was way ahead of the Ferraris behind, so just drove around on his own all race! Still, another strong showing, way ahead of the Mclarens and Ferraris this race and getting a performance out of the car that seems to be eluding teammate Tsunoda.

Alpine- Alonso 9th, Ocon 13th: Alonso, with very quick reactions, avoided hitting Bottas on the opening lap and settled into position behind Raikkonen. Ocon was squeezed by Schumacher and Tsunoda, and lucky to come through with no damage, but dropped him back a few places. Alpine didn’t show great pace here, so should be happy with a few points.

Aston Martin- Vettel 7th, Stroll 14th: Maybe flew under the radar a little this race, but both drivers had strong outings. Vettel didn’t put a foot wrong all race and showed good pace for the team. Aston Martin nailed their strategy too, enabling Vettel to jump Giovinazzi in the pit stops. Despite no points, Stroll came from twentieth on the grid, after a crash in qualifying and executed some lovely overtakes, and moved up the order today.

Williams- Russell 16th, Latifi 17th: Bit of a forgettable day for Williams. Russell got a great start but was then steadily overtaken by those around him. Latifi didn’t make any headway from his grid position. Seemed like the Williams just didn’t have the pace here—perhaps it’s not suited to the high altitude.

Alfa Romeo- Raikkonen 8th, Giovinazzi 11th: Another great drive from Raikkonen, avoiding any chaos on the opening lap and sliding the Alfa up into the points. Giovinazzi got a very good start but was hampered by the strategy the team used—attempting an undercut, which just didn’t work out today.

Haas- Mazepin 18th, Schumacher DNF: Mazepin gained a bit on the opening lap, but was then slowly but surely overtaken by the faster cars behind. Schumacher went out after a collision on the first lap.

Final Thoughts

Not the most thrilling race in the world, but wonderful to see such support in Mexico for their hero Checo Perez. It looked like a party, and that was the biggest third place celebration I think we’ll ever see in F1! It was good to see the tense showdown as Perez caught Hamilton, but frustrating that there were few overtaking opportunities. Overall Red Bull will be very happy with the result. Mercedes should be happy with second at a track where the Red Bull had a much better pace.

Driver of the Day: Verstappen
Honorable mentions: Perez, Hamilton, Vettel, Raikkonen, Norris

Mexican Grand Prix Race Results

  1. Verstappen
  2. Hamilton
  3. Perez
  4. Gasly
  5. Leclerc
  6. Sainz
  7. Vettel
  8. Raikkonen
  9. Alonso
  10. Norris

The fastest lap went to Bottas—who doesn’t get the extra point for it, as it is only allocated to the driver if they finish in the top ten.

Next Time

Brazil! This undulating circuit always provides exciting races!

Where to Watch

USA: Sunday 14th November Live on ESPN race start at 12:00 pm EST
UK: Sunday 14th November Live on Sky Sports F1 race start at 5:00 pm GMT
Highlights on Channel Four, Sunday 14th November, 11:00 pm GMT

Written by Jenny Alderton

Jenny is a freelance writer based in Wales with keen interest in Motorsports. An avid follower of Formula one for over twenty years she has recently branched out into watching other vehicles driving around in wiggly circles. Namely, Motogp, World Superbike championship, and British Superbike championship.

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