Red Bull’s Max Verstappen has become the first driver in Formula 1 history to win 14 races in a season after outclassing his contemporaries at the Mexican Grand Prix at the Autódromo Hermanos Rodríguez.
Having qualified in pole position following a blistering Q3 session time and with both Ferrari drivers, his main competition this season sitting in fifth and sixth it looked as though the Dutchmen would be hard to beat.
Having already secured the Drivers’ Championship title and Red Bull won the constructors there was not much on the line for Verstappen except for etching his name into the record books.
Despite having both Mercedes drivers, George Russell and Lewis Hamilton in his rear-view mirror for the start of the race it did not matter with either able to pose any danger to the Dutchmen on the opening lap. It was Verstappen’s teammate, Sergio Perez who was the most active, able to move from fourth up to third on the opening lap after Russell had a poor start.
The Red Bull pair were the first to enter the pits of the top four drivers, with Perez pitting on lap 24 and Verstappen on lap 26. After coming out in third place Verstappen had to only wait nine laps before returning to the top of the grid after Hamilton entered the pits on lap 30 and Russell followed soon after on lap 35.
From there the top six remained the same for the rest of the Mexican Grand Prix, with Verstappen finishing a massive 15 seconds ahead of second placed Hamilton to win his third straight Grand Prix. Perez rounded out the podium finishing third in front of his adoring fans at his home race, just having the fastest lap stolen from him by fourth placed Russell on the final lap.
Ferrari’s Carlos Sainz and Charles Leclerc rounded out the top six after coming fifth and sixth.
The result was significant for Perez who now sits in second place in the Driver Championship having leapfrogged Ferrari’s Leclerc to hold a five point lead, 280 to 275.
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Aussie Daniel Ricciardo had his work cut out for him in Mexico City, starting in 11th following an unlucky qualifying session where he ran out of time to register a lap quick enough to make it to Q3. His teammate, Lando Norris was not as unlucky, starting in eighth place however this was short lived to begin the race.
On the opening lap both McLarens struggled out of the blocks with Norris falling to 10th while Ricciardo found himself in 13th place after just one lap. While Ricciardo was able to recover slightly after battling with Guanyu Zhou for 12th place the two McLaren were unable to make any progress.
On lap 32 Norris pitted putting on the hard tyres with them set to see him out for the rest of the Grand Prix. Ricciardo opted to wait until lap 45 where by that time he climbed as high as seventh following other racers pitting.
McLaren opted for a different strategy for the Aussie, putting soft tyres on to give him the speed to work his way up the grid for the final 24 laps of the race. This proved a genius move, as following him coming out in 12th place he soon got to work starting by getting past Alpha Tauri’s Yuki Tsunoda in controversial fashion.
On lap 51 Ricciardo and Tsunoda were battling it out for 11th place when going into a turn Ricciardo tried to take the inside line however did not leave the Japanese driver enough room. This resulted in the McLaren knocking into the back of the Alpha Tauri and sending it off the track, allowing Ricciardo to gain the position.
For the incident the FIA gave Ricciardo a 10-second time penalty for causing a collision however this did not seem to concern the Aussie.
His next victim was teammate Norris who on lap 56 he overtook followed by Valtteri Bottas on lap 58 to move into ninth. On laps 61 and 62 Ricciardo moved past both Alpine cars, first Fernando Alonso’s then shortly after Esteban Ocon to sit in seventh place.
With just nine laps to go in the Grand Prix Ricciardo needed to ensure the gap between him and Ocon was over 10 seconds if he wanted to hold his spot due to the time penalty he received. The Aussie was if he wanted to do just that to score his best result since Singapore and third best finish of the season.
Meanwhile teammate Lando Norris finished in ninth place with the team scoring eight points.
For his incredible late heroics, Ricciardo was voted the Driver of the Day by the fans.
McLaren remains in fifth place in the Constructors Championship sitting just seven points behind Alpine, 153 to 146. With just two races remaining in Brazil and Abu Dhabi, the race is on for which team will finish in fourth place.
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