Mexican Grand Prix: Hamilton beats Rosberg
Reigning Formula 1 world champion Lewis Hamilton won the Mexican Grand Prix, at the Autdoromo Hermanos Rodriguez, to add pressure on Mercedes teammate and title rival Nico Rosberg by reducing the points deficit between the pair to 19 points, with only two rounds remaining.
Hamilton made a strong start, winning the drag race to Turn 1 but locking up on the brakes in the process which resulted in a trip across the grass for the Mercedes, but he rejoined the track in the lead and stayed there all afternoon.
He said on the podium, “It was amazing because of all these people viva Mexico! This is honestly the best crowd we get anywhere. In our home country it is always great, but these guys have such a great passion.”
“I love it here. I have had tacos every night. Nico is doing a great job. I’m really grateful the team did a great job,” added the Briton.
Championship leader Rosberg went wheel-to-wheel with Red Bull’s Max Verstappen through Turn 1 and he too was forced of track to avoid flying over the kerbs. The German slotted into second place where he stayed for the the rest of the race, with only a lunge by Verstappen (again) late in the race to contend with.
Rosberg summed up his sentiments, “It has been a good day. I haven’t been too fast this weekend so I have to accept second place. I got shunted at the start and had a battle with Max Verstappen late on, so it was OK to be second.”
There was more action, down the order, as the field roared through the Turn 1 and Turn 2 complex, with the Haas of Esteban Gutierrez clipping the back of Pascal Wehrlein’s Manor which caused it to spin into the Sauber of Marcus Ericsson. Wehrlein was out of the race with a broken rear wheel, while the other two managed to continue.
The incident brought out the safety car, which prompted Red Bull to get creative with strategy and call in Daniel Ricciardo to swap his Soft tyres for a set of Mediums.
Once the action resumed it must be said that up until the final few laps, in front of 190,000 eager fans, the race was a mundane affair.
However a dramatic end was in store, as the different race strategies impacted the battle for the final position on the podium with Ferrari driver Sebastian Vettel on fresher Medium tyres reeling in, his nemesis, Verstappen on tired Mediums, and the pair of them stalked by Ricciardo on a fresh set of Softs.
With a handful of laps to go, the trio were circulating nose to tail, with Verstappen on the defensive in his inimitable style while Vettel stabbed at him where he could and clearly getting frustrated behind the teenager.
On lap 67 of 71, Verstappen braked too late into Turn 1 with Vettel almost beside him. The Dutchman cut over the grass (very similar to what Rosberg and Hamilton did at the start of the race) and kept his third place with Vettel having to tuck in behind the Red Bull.
Verstappen was advised over the radio by his race engineer to give back the position, which he ignored. The race stewards announced that they were investigating the incident after the race.
At this point Vettel was seething, spewing expletives over the radio (report here>>>) while Ferrari team boss Maurizio Arrivabene gesticulated theatrically on the pit gantry.
With all the drama going on over the airwaves, Ricciardo attacked on the next lap into Turn 4. The Ferrari and Red Bull rubbed wheels as they battled for the same piece of tarmac. Vettel managed to hang on to fourth, while Ricciardo was forced to concede to avoid a collision and dropped back.
Ahead of them Verstappen had a couple of seconds cushion and thus it was game over, the furious last minute battle between the trio seemed settled as they crossed the line behind the Silver Arrows pair – Verstappen from Vettel ahead of Ricciardo.
But Vettel’s anger continued after they crossed the line, as he lunged towards the slowing Red Bull of Verstappen, gesticulating at the Dutchman who responded with similar universal sign language of racing drivers.
The stewards’ verdict came when Verstappen was already in the pre-podium room with race winner Hamilton and second placed Rosberg. The teenager looked at the screens and saw he was fifth, thanks to a five seconds penalty for his actions.
Vettel was third and along with a red entourage made his way to the podium in the awesome stadium arena, as Verstappen trudged the other way back to the paddock.
During the podium interviews with Juan Pablo Montoya, Vettel excused himself, “I was using a lot of sign language. You have to understand the adrenaline. Then obviously he left the track and didn’t move and so you can understand why I was annoyed. I was really disappointed when I crossed the line, but then I was told to come up here.”
Ricciardo, who was promoted to fourth thanks to his teammate’s penalty, was nevertheless aggrieved by Vettel’s defensive moves and made his feelings known, “[Vettel] is smiling now. He doesn’t deserve to be up there. I thought I had every right to be there but he kept closing the door under braking. I was frustrated with that.”
“I also didn’t understand the start, how you can be leading the race, defend, go off the track and not get a penalty? What was different with Max Verstappen’s move and Lewis? It was a mistake and you have to pay the price. I am just frustrated with how it all panned out to be honest,” fumed the Australian.
Verstappen’s near podium finish turned to fifth, and of course he was not happy, “I think it is pretty similar to what happened in corner one, Lewis went off and got a massive advantage and Nico went off when we touched. I didn’t even get an advantage, I was the same length in front, so i think it is ridiculous.
“They thought I had to give it back, but it was never confirmed. I was not backing him up, I was just trying to do the best I can. They don’t give a penalty for Nico, don’t give me a penalty at the end of the race.”
“I saw the footage. At least I can do it in a good way, it is ridiculous what [Veetel] did and then he starts shouting on the radio. I don’t know how many times he is using very bad language. I will speak to him because this is how ridiculous he is handling it, he is just a very frustrated guy at the moment,” added the 19 year old.
Behind the squabbling trio, Ferrari’s Kimi Raikkonen and Nico Hulkenberg in the Force India, had their own intense battle for sixth. The pair also going wheel-to-wheel late in the race, with Hulkenberg spinning as the pair were side-by-side and Raikkonen taking sixth.
Hulkenberg recovered to finish seventh, ahead of the Williams duo of Valtteri Bottas and Felipe Massa who crossed the line in eighth and ninth respectively.
Local hero Sergio Perez, who spent most of the race staring at the back of Massa’s car, scored the final point for Force India.
Mexican Grand Prix, Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez – Race Result
|4||3||Daniel Ricciardo||RED BULL RACING TAG HEUER||71||+20.858s||12|
|5||33||Max Verstappen||RED BULL RACING TAG HEUER||71||+21.323s||10|
|7||27||Nico Hulkenberg||FORCE INDIA MERCEDES||71||+58.891s||6|
|8||77||Valtteri Bottas||WILLIAMS MERCEDES||71||+65.612s||4|
|9||19||Felipe Massa||WILLIAMS MERCEDES||71||+76.206s||2|
|10||11||Sergio Perez||FORCE INDIA MERCEDES||71||+76.798s||1|
|11||9||Marcus Ericsson||SAUBER FERRARI||70||+1 lap||0|
|12||22||Jenson Button||MCLAREN HONDA||70||+1 lap||0|
|13||14||Fernando Alonso||MCLAREN HONDA||70||+1 lap||0|
|14||30||Jolyon Palmer||RENAULT||70||+1 lap||0|
|15||12||Felipe Nasr||SAUBER FERRARI||70||+1 lap||0|
|16||55||Carlos Sainz||TORO ROSSO FERRARI||70||+1 lap||0|
|17||20||Kevin Magnussen||RENAULT||70||+1 lap||0|
|18||26||Daniil Kvyat||TORO ROSSO FERRARI||70||+1 lap||0|
|19||21||Esteban Gutierrez||HAAS FERRARI||70||+1 lap||0|
|20||8||Romain Grosjean||HAAS FERRARI||70||+1 lap||0|
|21||31||Esteban Ocon||MRT MERCEDES||69||+2 laps||0|
|NC||94||Pascal Wehrlein||MRT MERCEDES||0||DNF||0|