Max Verstappen took another step closer in achieving his maiden Formula One championship after the Dutchman notched a dominating victory ahead of Sir Lewis Hamilton and teammate Sergio “Checo” Perez in the Mexico City Grand Prix at Autódromo Hermanos Rodríguez on Sunday, November 7.
The 24-year-old Dutchman, who started in third place behind teammates Valtteri Bottas and Hamilton, had the Grand Prix in his control from the get-go after he overtook both Mercedes at the launch and entering the first turn as his Grand Prix started off. Behind, Bottas, who started on pole position, dropped to the back after getting and turned by McLaren’s Daniel Ricciardo through the first turn. In the ensuing chaos, Esteban Ocon got sandwiched in between rookies Mick Schumacher and Yuki Tsunoda, which knocked both Schumacher and Tsunoda out of contention after both sustained damage to their respective machines.
With the field scrambling behind him, Verstappen ran away from the field and dominated the entirety of the event as he crossed the finish line and claimed the chequered flag by more than 16 seconds over Hamilton and 17 over Perez.
With the victory, Verstappen achieved his ninth Grand Prix victory of the 2021 season, the 19th of his career and his second in recent weeks after winning the United States Grand Prix at Circuit of the Americas in Austin, Texas, in late October. Verstappen also made history as he became the first F1 competitor to achieve three Grand Prix victories in Mexico.
With his dominating victory, Verstappen increased his advantage from 12 to 19 over Hamilton in the driver’s standings.
“Today, what was very important to us was the first lap and the start, basically, into Turn 1,” Verstappen said. “We went three wide and it was all about who was gonna brake the latest. I got both of [the Mercedes competitors] into Turn 1, so it was gonna be a good race and I could just control it from there. You never know what the others are gonna do, right? We made it stick. The car was really, really good. We basically just controlled it to the end. [Mexico]’s always been a good race for us, so we shouldn’t get ahead of ourselves because again in Brazil, it’s gonna be a tough battle.”
Finishing in second place for the seventh time this season was Lewis Hamilton, who was more than 16 seconds behind Verstappen’s Red Bull machine and could not keep pace with the Red Bull Racing cars.
“I feel positive in the sense that I had a good race,” Hamilton said. “I did everything with the car I had. The car was not good today. I had a good start and after that, it was just trying to manage the tires. Had a good pit stop and then, to keep Sergio behind, who was obviously in a much faster car this weekend. When you’ve got Sergio behind you, pushing you, you know that he’s fast. I’m glad I was able to at least keep those two [Red Bull drivers] apart in terms of getting a one, two for their team. We’ll move on and keep fighting. [Red Bull]’s have the fastest car most of the year. Wish we were a little bit quicker this weekend, but today we were a long way off. I don’t really understand that, but we’ll go back to the drawing board and try to come back next week stronger.”
Meanwhile, Sergio “Checo” Perez, who tried but was unable to overtake Hamilton in the final laps, achieved his fifth podium result of the season in third place as he also achieved his third consecutive podium result in recent weeks. With his strong performance and result in front of his home nation, fans and family, Perez became the first Mexican competitor to achieve a podium result in the Mexico City Grand Prix.
“Yeah, it’s obviously very special to be on that podium with everyone out there,” Perez said. “They’ve done a tremendous effort. I’m so happy for my country as well. We got this result for them. We didn’t have quite enough there at the end, but we gave it our best. We just have to keep pushing, keep our heads on. It’s been a good weekend for the team and as a team, we just have to keep pushing hard, to try to get more points for the team and also for the constructor’s [standings].”
Finishing in fourth place and just outside of the podium positions was AlphaTauri’s Pierre Gasly while Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc and Carlos Sainz crossed the finish line in fifth and sixth.
Sebastian Vettel finished in seventh place for his sixth top-10 result of the season while Kimi Räikkönen posted a strong eighth-place result as he is down to his final four F1 events of his career.
Fernando Alonso came home in ninth place and Lando Norris capped off a difficult run for McLaren by finishing in 10th place and sealing the final points-paying result on the track.
Finishing outside of the top-10 points-paying results was Alfa Romeo’s Antonio Giovinazzi followed by Daniel Ricciardo, who damaged his front wing following the opening lap collision with Bottas and never recovered.
Esteban Ocon, following his opening lap incident, ended his run in 13th place followed by Lance Stroll, who wrecked his primary car during Saturday’s qualifying session, and Bottas, who pitted twice in the final laps for soft tyres but managed to snatch the fastest lap of the event.
George Russell, Nicholas Latifi and rookie Nikita Mazepin settled in 16th, 17th and 18th while rookies Mick Schumacher and Yuki Tsunoda retired in 19th and 20th following their opening lap incident.
1. Max Verstappen, 25 points
2. Lewis Hamilton, 18 points
3. Sergio Perez, 15 points
4. Pierre Gasly, 12 points
5. Charles Leclerc, 10 points
6. Carlos Sainz, eight points, +1 lap
7. Sebastian Vettel, six points, +1 lap
8. Kimi Räikkönen, four points, +1 lap
9. Fernando Alonso, two points, +1 lap
10. Lando Norris, one point, +1 lap
11. Antonio Giovinazzi, +1 lap
12. Daniel Ricciardo, +1 lap
13. Esteban Ocon, +1 lap
14. Lance Stroll, +2 laps
15. Valtteri Bottas, +2 laps
16. George Russell, +2 laps
17. Nicholas Latifi, +2 laps
18. Nikita Mazepin, +3 laps
19. Mick Schumacher – Retired
20. Yuki Tsunoda – Retired
Max Verstappen continues to lead the drivers’ standings by 19 points over Hamilton. Meanwhile, Mercedes continues to lead the constructors’ standings by a single point over Red Bull Racing Honda.
With four races remaining to the schedule, the 2021 Formula One season will next travel to Brazil’s Interlagos Circuit for the São Paulo Grand Prix on Sunday, November 14.