Race Report: Verstappen takes dominant Mexican GP win

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AUTODROMO HERMANOS RODRIGUEZ, MEXICO - NOVEMBER 07: Max Verstappen, Red Bull Racing, 1st position, lifts his trophy during the Mexican GP at Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez on Sunday November 07, 2021 in Mexico City, Mexico. (Photo by Glenn Dunbar / LAT Images)

On Friday, the Red Bull duo looked set to do very well at this weekend’s Mexican Grand Prix. Then Saturday came and the Mercedes duo of Lewi sHamilton and Valtteri Bottas stole the show with a one, two during qualifying and Red Bull spent the day nursing the rear wings of their cars with aero issues and stores fractures.

You could have drawn the conclusion that perhaps Mercedes might repay the win that Red Bull had two weeks ago on a Mercedes-flattering track since Mexico is usually happy outing grounds for the energy drink team. Could Mercedes beat Red Bull on a track they were supposed to be dominant at?

The answer on Sunday, was a simple “no.” Max Verstappen took a dominant win over Lewis Hamilton who barely managed to keep hometown hero Sergio Perez behind him. Perez was the first Mexican driver to lead a Mexican grand prix and score a podium finish and this delighted a heavily biased sell-out crowd.

Win

A big win for Red Bull and Max Verstappen who increased their lead in the driver’s championship by 19 points and with Sergio’s podium, Red Bull clawed to within just one point in the constructor’s championship. It was a huge emotional win for Sergio who had struggled early on in the season but has come on song in time to delight a sell-out Mexican grand prix.

A win for Ferrari who managed to take the lead over McLaren in the constructor’s championship by 13 points despite some internal team radio messages from Carlos Sainz accusing Charles Leclerc of deliberately trying to hold him off despite team orders. Regardless, the team swapped the drivers back and Leclerc led Sainz with a 5th and 6th place finish.

A big win for Pierre Gasly who finished ahead of the Ferrari’s and was best-of-the-rest in a quiet but very good drive for Alpha Tauri.

A win for Alfa Romeo’s Kimi Raikkonen who finished 8th ahead of Fernando Alonso’s Alpine.

Fail

A fail for Mercedes who saw Bottas get spun by Daniel Ricciardo at the first turn dropping him tot he back and Lewis Hamilton struggling to keep up w9th Max all day long. Mercedes felt that Mexico would be a Red Bull race but perhaps they had a brief moment of hope that Saturday suggested they may have a shot. Regardless, Lewis did minimize the points damage by keeping Perez behind him while Bottas managed to steal the fastest lap point away from Verstappen.

A fail for McLaren who had a grid penalty for Lando Norris and Ricciardo had the moment with Bottas that spoiled his race and chances of minimizing the points damage that Ferrari did.

WTH

Not quite sure what Red Bull’s issue was but according to Adrian Newey, the rear wings they brought were high downforce configurations and the aero load was more than they were expecting causing issues with the wings but they did seem to sort that out by Sunday.

It was interesting to hear Mercedes say they had solved their low-oxygen engine performance and that this contributed to Saturday’s pole position but they really struggled for pace come Sunday with Max finishing over 16s ahead of Hamilton.

Pirelli Key Moments:

  • Red Bull driver Max Verstappen won the Mexican Grand Prix with a one-stop strategy, swapping from P Zero Yellow medium to P Zero White hard tyres on lap 34. This was the most frequently-used strategy in the 71-lap race, adopted by the majority of the field (and the strategy that Pirelli calculated as the fastest one).
  • Lewis Hamilton finished second for Mercedes after pitting on lap 30 for hard tyres, fighting off Red Bull’s Sergio Perez for the runner-up spot in the closing stages – with the Mexican on hard tyres that were 11 laps younger.
  • All the drivers started the race on the medium tyre, with the exception of Alpine’s Esteban Ocon and AlphaTauri’s Yuki Tsunoda, who began the race on the P Zero Red soft from the back of the grid.
  • McLaren’s Daniel Ricciardo and polesitter Valtteri Bottas (Mercedes) both switched to the hard tyre under a safety car on lap one. Both ended up stopping again for medium tyres, while Bottas made two additional stops for soft tyres at the end of the race to set fastest lap.
  • Track temperature was 48 degrees at the start of the race: the highest it has been all weekend.

Mexican GP results:

PosNameCarLapsLaps LedTotal TimeFastest LapPitstopsPts
1Max VerstappenRed Bull-Honda71651h38m39.086s1m18.999s125
2Lewis HamiltonMercedes710+16.555s1m19.82s118
3Sergio PérezRed Bull-Honda716+17.752s1m19.468s115
4Pierre GaslyAlphaTauri-Honda710+1m03.845s1m20.51s112
5Charles LeclercFerrari710+1m21.037s1m20.665s110
6Carlos Sainz Jr.Ferrari700+1 lap1m20.081s18
7Sebastian VettelAston Martin-Mercedes700+1 lap1m20.46s16
8Kimi RäikkönenAlfa Romeo-Ferrari700+1 lap1m20.713s14
9Fernando AlonsoAlpine-Renault700+1 lap1m20.711s12
10Lando NorrisMcLaren-Mercedes700+1 lap1m20.617s11
11Antonio GiovinazziAlfa Romeo-Ferrari700+1 lap1m21.523s10
12Daniel RicciardoMcLaren-Mercedes700+1 lap1m21.069s20
13Esteban OconAlpine-Renault700+1 lap1m21.348s10
14Lance StrollAston Martin-Mercedes690+2 laps1m20.93s20
15Valtteri BottasMercedes690+2 laps1m17.774s40
16George RussellWilliams-Mercedes690+2 laps1m22.016s10
17Nicholas LatifiWilliams-Mercedes690+2 laps1m21.546s20
18Nikita MazepinHaas-Ferrari680+3 laps1m21.402s20
Mick SchumacherHaas-Ferrari10DNF0s00
Yuki TsunodaAlphaTauri-Honda10DNF0s00
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Xean Drury

I’ve never seen duct tape on a Formula 1 car before. Thank you RedBull.

Hautacam

Does that make it “200-mph tape”? ;)

Xean Drury

Hahaha! Brilliant!