RACE DEBRIEF

    Max Verstappen continued his push towards a maiden first world championship with a dominant victory in the Mexico City Grand Prix. We’ve picked out our six winners and five losers from a festival-like race at the Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez...

    Winner: Max Verstappen

    Having spent hours assessing the best way to attack the opening sequence of corners at the start, Verstappen executed the perfect strategy to leapfrog both Mercedes and catapult himself into the lead of a race he would go on to command with authority.

    Victory was his ninth of the season and allowed him to increase his championship lead for the third consecutive race, leaving him heading to Brazil with a 19-point advantage over Lewis Hamilton.

    READ MORE: 'It can turn around very quickly' – Verstappen insists he’s not thinking of the title despite dominant win in Mexico

    The Red Bull driver is the first three-time winner in Mexico and passed Jim Clark to take the record for the all-time lap leader at the Mexico City track. By winning at Mexico City, the Red Bull Ring and Spa, he has won the three highest altitude venues visited so far this year.

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    Verstappen has strengthened his grip on the drivers' championship

    Loser: Valtteri Bottas

    Valtteri Bottas delivered one of the best laps of his career to take pole position for this year’s Mexico City Grand Prix, locking out the front row with Mercedes team mate Lewis Hamilton.

    However, he failed to cover the outside line after a good getaway, which allowed Verstappen to pick up a tow from him before blasting past on the outside. He was then spun round by Daniel Ricciardo, who he later spent much of the race behind, and ultimately finished outside the points.

    READ MORE: Hamilton says he ‘gave it absolutely everything’, but unable to explain loss of pace in Mexico defeat

    It was, however, small consolation that he was able to take fastest lap at the end of the race, depriving Verstappen of the extra point and keeping Mercedes ahead in the constructors’ championship, albeit only by one point.

    2021 Mexico City Grand Prix: Bottas and Ricciardo collide at start

    Winners: Mexican fans

    Everywhere you look in Mexico City, there’s Sergio Perez’s face staring back at you, whether it’s on billboards or at bus stops, on the sides of buildings or posters adorning the highways.

    Perez is a megastar in Mexico and his fans turned out on mass – more than 300,000 passed through the gates over the weekend – draped in Mexican flags and dressed head to toe in Red Bull gear.

    READ MORE: Mexico City GP Facts & Stats - Verstappen and Perez both make Mexican history

    And they were rewarded with the podium they craved, the stadium section – that fits 30,000 fans alone – erupting when he climbed out of the car and absorbed the rapturous reception.

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    Perez's podium ensured the party was started in style as the fans revelled in the return of the Mexican Grand Prix

    Loser: Yuki Tsunoda

    This was one of Yuki Tsunoda’s best weekends in F1 so far, the Japanese driver on the pace from the first practice session (on a circuit he had never previously driven).

    It was unfortunate he was destined for a back of the grid start from the off, courtesy of a host of engine penalties, but he didn’t let his head drop. His appearance in Q3, albeit on the softs, ensured AlphaTauri had two cars in the final segment of qualifying for the third straight race.

    READ MORE: What the teams said – Race day in Mexico

    But we were robbed of seeing if he could fight back through the field with a car that looked the third best on pure performance when he was hit by Esteban Ocon, who himself was pincered as the field compressed at the start, and forced into retirement.

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    Just not his day - Tsunoda had nowhere to go at the start, crashing out after just a few corners

    Winner: Sergio Perez

    Sergio Perez is on a fine run of form, the Mexican recovering from a trip across the grass at the start to score his third successive podium – the first time he’s achieved that feat in his F1 career.

    Though he failed in his chase of Hamilton for second, he did become the first Mexican to lead a lap and stand on the podium in a home race with third – his fifth podium of the season, moving him just 20 points adrift of Bottas in the championship.

    READ MORE: 'I wanted more, I wanted to win' admits Perez after making history with Mexico City podium

    Losers: McLaren

    McLaren had a feeling this was going to be a challenging weekend, and so it transpired, with the British team leaving Mexico with just a solitary point courtesy of Lando Norris.

    With Ferrari getting both cars in the top six, McLaren drop behind the Italian team into fourth in the constructors’ championship, 13.5 points adrift with four races to go.

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    It was an emotional day for Perez as he became the first Mexican to score a podium on home soil

    Winner: Pierre Gasly

    Pierre Gasly didn’t put a foot wrong all weekend, the Frenchman making the most of an AlphaTauri that was excelling at high altitude in Mexico.

    He followed up a top-five grid slot with a sublime, though lonely, drive to fourth. That’s his third top-four finish of the year and the Faenza-based team’s best ever result in Mexico.

    The healthy points haul also moved AlphaTauri level on points with fifth-placed Alpine in the constructors’ championship.

    READ MORE: Gasly hails ‘fantastic’ P4 in Mexico as AlphaTauri draw level with Alpine in constructors’

    Losers: Williams

    George Russell described Sunday’s race as his most difficult of the season, the Briton having made significant progress at the start only to drop back through the field like a stone.

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    Gasly didn't put a foot wrong in the race to come home in a 'best of the rest' fourth

    Team mate Nicholas Latifi didn’t fare much better and spent much of the afternoon moving out of the way because of blue flags. It means Williams have now failed to score points for three consecutive races, with rivals Alfa Romeo closing to within 12 points in the constructors’ championship.

    Winner: Sebastian Vettel

    Sebastian Vettel has always tended to run well in Mexico in the past and while he ended his record of always having qualified inside the top 10, he did score for only the sixth time this season.

    Aside from the shortened Belgian Grand Prix, seventh was his best result since his podium in Baku (he did finish second on the road in Hungary but was disqualified).

    RACE HIGHLIGHTS: Catch up on all the action from the Mexico City Grand Prix

    2021 Mexico City Grand Prix: Antonio Giovinazzi makes up places in chaotic start

    Loser: Antonio Giovinazzi

    The sadness in Antonio Giovinazzi’s eyes was evident when we spoke in the pen after the race. It’s hard not to feel bad for the Italian, who finished 11th for the third successive race, one place outside of the points.

    This one hurt especially because he was running sixth early on. However he re-joined in traffic after his pit stop which compromised his race to the point he wasn’t able to extract the true pace of the car. Another frustrating day.

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    Winner: Kimi Raikkonen

    The other Alfa Romeo fared much better, Kimi Raikkonen driving his strongest race of the year with eighth, set up by an impressive opening sequence of corners.

    The car showed strong pace throughout, meaning Raikkonen rarely faced a threat from behind. It was his second top-eight finish in four races, having not managed any top-eight finishes since 2019.