Verstappen Wins in Mexico; Hamilton Takes Fifth World Title
MEXICO CITY, Mexico—R.I.S.—Leading most of the race was no problem for Max Verstappen, who for the second year in a row, won the Mexican Grand Prix Sunday afternoon at the Hermanos Rodriguez Circuit, with a 17 second victory over Sebastian Vettel, with the German’s Ferrari teammate Kimi Raikkonen in third. But the day belonged to Lewis Hamilton, who by finishing in fourth place, took his Fifth world championship, tying Juan Manuel Fangio of becoming the second all-time winning championship F1 driver, next to Michael Schumacher.
“Amazing,” said Verstappen afterwards on his second win in a row. “To be honest with you, I didn’t sleep very well last night, so I was really determined to win.”
Verstappen never gave up his lead and took the front of the grid right from the beginning, as Hamilton got off to a good start, but was beaten by the Dutchman into the first corner. From then on, Hamilton encountered a graining problem with his tires, pitting on lap 11 and giving Verstappen more of a gap of 11 seconds by the end of lap 29. Verstappen’s teammate, Daniel Ricciardo, who had taken pole, was hoping to at least finish the race, and was up to second place ahead of Vettel. The Australian, who at this point only pitted once, was hoping to get his tires to the end to take the runner-up spot, ran out of luck on lap 62, when his battery expired. It was the eighth time this season that Ricciardo had problems that had been related to the engine. The call was to decrease the engine power for Verstappen, as the Red Bull team was worried that the same problem would occur for the Dutchman. But Verstappen held out for his second victory at this legendary circuit.
It was not a great day for Spanish speaking drivers, as Fernando Alonso, Carlos Sainz Jr. and home hero Sergio Perez all joined Ricciardo in retiring from the race.
For the rest of the top finishers, Valtteri Bottas was fifth in the second Mercedes, along with Renault’s Nico Hulkenberg, was finished sixth. Charles LeClerc was seventh in his Sauber, with Stoffel Vandoorne in his best finish in his McLaren in eighth. Marcus Ericsson gave Sauber a double point finish in ninth, while Pierre Gasly took the last point position in his Toro Rosso. For the American Haas F1 Team, it was a disappointing day as Kevin Magnussen and Romain Grosjean finished in 15th and 16th, respectively.
Now that Hamilton has taken the world title, there are two races to go in Brazil and Abu Dhabi that still has Mercedes and Ferrari battling for the Constructors title. But Hamilton for now, is not worried about it. He is still trying to take in what he has accomplished.
“It’s a very strange feeling right now,” said Hamilton. “To complete this, when Fangio did it with Mercedes, is an incredible feeling. It’s very, very surreal at the moment.”
Verstappen meanwhile, still cannot compare the difference between last year’s win and Sunday’s.
“The podium, like last year is amazing.” He said. “To have the DJ and the crowd coming down from the stands is really cool, two years in a row makes it even better. Mexico always has so many passionate fans which makes me love coming back here every year. Also congratulations to Lewis (Hamilton) on his fifth title, he has been the most consistently strong driver all year and deserves the championship, I’m sure it feels very special. Hopefully I can challenge him for it soon.”
MEXICAN GRAND PRIX
At Circuit Hermanos Rodriguez, Mexico City, Mexico
Final Race Results
1 Max Verstappen (NED) Red Bull Racing
2 Sebastian Vettel (GER) Ferrari—17 seconds behind
3 Kimi Raikkonen (FIN) Ferrari
4 Lewis Hamilton (GBR) Mercedes
5 Valtteri Bottas (FIN) Mercedes
6 Nico Hulkenberg (GER) Renault
7 Charles LeClerc (MON) Sauber
8 Stoffel Vandoorne (BEL) McLaren
9 Marcus Ericsson (SWE) Sauber
10 Pierre Gasly (FRA) Toro Rosso
11 Esteban Ocon (FRA) Force India
12 Lance Stroll (CDN) Williams
13 Sergey Sirotkin (RUS) Williams
14 Brendon Hartley (NZL) Toro Rosso
15 Kevin Magnussen (DEN) Haas F1 Team
16 Romain Grosjean (FRA) Haas F1 Team
17 Daniel Ricciardo (AUS) Red Bull Racing—Battery—lap 62
18 Sergio Perez (MEX) Force India- brakes- lap 41
19 Carlos Sainz Jr. (SPA) Renault- brakes—lap 31
20 Fernando Alonso (SPA) McLaren—engine—lap 2
A 16 year veteran of writing formula one racing weekend race reports, features and team launches, Mark has worked for such companies as all-sports, e-sports, The Munich Eye newspaper in Germany, racingnation.com and Autoweek. A former member for this site four years ago, Mark now is a contributor for R.I.S.