Verstappen charges to record 16th win of the season after Perez's opening lap crash in Mexico
Max Verstappen scored a dominant victory at this weekend’s Mexico City Grand Prix, taking the lead at the start of the race to finish ahead of Lewis Hamilton, as he sealed his fifth win at the Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez – and his 16th victory of the season.
Verstappen lined up in third but made a phenomenal start using the tow from pole-sitter Charles Leclerc as he took the lead into Turn 1. However, at the same corner, Leclerc collided with the fast-starting Sergio Perez, knocking the home favourite out of the race.
Leclerc was in second ahead of Lewis Hamilton and Carlos Sainz, when Kevin Magnussen crashed into the barrier at Turn 8 halfway through. The Dane was okay as he jumped out of the car but the resulting damage to his car and the barrier forced the red flags to be waved.
At the subsequent restart, Verstappen kept a hold of the lead, with Hamilton – on the mediums – overtaking Leclerc for second a few laps later. The Briton held on to the position, with Leclerc taking the final spot on the podium ahead of Sainz.
FORMULA 1 GRAN PREMIO DE LA CIUDAD DE MÉXICO 2023
|1 Max Verstappen VER Red Bull Racing||2:02:30.814||25|
|2 Lewis Hamilton HAM Mercedes||+13.875s||19|
|3 Charles Leclerc LEC Ferrari||+23.124s||15|
|4 Carlos Sainz SAI Ferrari||+27.154s||12|
|5 Lando Norris NOR McLaren||+33.266s||10|
Lando Norris had an outstanding recovery drive from 17th on the grid, as he overtook George Russell late in the affair to take fifth place. The Mercedes driver then held off the late charge of Daniel Ricciardo, who marked an impressive weekend for him and AlphaTauri to take seventh.
The other McLaren of Oscar Piastri survived a collision with Yuki Tsunoda to finish eighth. He took the chequered flag ahead of Alex Albon, who continued to impress for Williams, with Esteban Ocon overtaking Nico Hulkenberg late in the piece to take 10th for Alpine.
Pierre Gasly followed home his Alpine team mate in 11th, ahead of the AlphaTauri of Tsunoda – who recovered from his collision with Piastri to finish 12th – and the Haas of Hulkenberg.
Valtteri Bottas, who is under investigation for colliding with Stroll in the stadium section, finished 14th ahead of his Alfa Romeo team mate Zhou Guanyu in 15th – who was the last of the remaining runners.
Logan Sargeant retired on his final lap, and he was amongst five other drivers who failed to see the chequered flag. The others were Stroll, Magnussen, Fernando Alonso, and home favourite Perez.
As it happened
It had been a gripping couple of days in Mexico that saw Leclerc pull off a shock result in qualifying to take pole position on Saturday. But having not converted his last 10 pole positions into wins, could he make it a lucky number 11 today?
As the blankets were lifted off the cars, we got a first viewing of which tyres the drivers would be using at the start. The majority opted for the mediums, although Albon and Ocon started on the hards, while Norris made the bold call to start on the softs.
As the lights went out, it was an outstanding start for Verstappen who got ahead of Leclerc and Sainz on the run down to Turn 1. But it soon became a horrible one for Perez and his fans in the stands as he collided with Leclerc at Turn 1.
The home favourite had also made a fast start and was looking to go round the outside of Leclerc at the first corner, but the two came together, sending Perez into the air and to the back of the field, while the Monegasque was left with front wing damage.
Perez managed to make it back to the pit lane but could not get going as he was seen slamming his fists on his steering wheel in frustration. The Red Bull mechanics did their best to get him back out on track, but to no avail, and it was an early end to his home race.
As the drivers went round the Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez, Leclerc, still in second, was told he was okay to continue. His damaged front wing end plate had now come off his car and was on the racing line with the stewards calling for a Virtual Safety Car to remove it.
As the lights went green again, Verstappen had a lead of two seconds to Leclerc, with Sainz in third. Ricciardo was now under pressure from Hamilton for fourth, with the Briton now looking set to capitalise on Perez being out of the race, as the battle for second in the drivers' championship took another twist.
Perez was now out of the car talking to his engineers, as Verstappen continued to set the pace out in front. The Mercedes drivers were also now beginning to make their moves as Hamilton, who had been complaining about his car getting hot, charged past Ricciardo for fourth at Turn 1, with Russell having a look at Piastri for sixth.
At the end of Lap 10, Tsunoda had pitted from 14th, an early stop considering he started the race on the mediums, as the AlphaTauri driver strapped on a set of the hards, possibly as a test for his team mate, Ricciardo, now in fifth.
“Balance is great mate,” reported Hamilton as he was now within DRS range of Sainz in third. Further back, Gasly was now putting the pressure on Hulkenberg – who was reportedly now suffering from degradation on his Haas.
At the end 19th tour of the track, the stewards announced that they would be investigating Leclerc for driving in an unsafe condition after the race. Soon after, Red Bull brought Verstappen into the pits for a set of the hards, dropping him to seventh.
At the start of Lap 22 of 71, Verstappen was putting his new rubber to good use, as he made his way past Russell for sixth. Further ahead, Sainz was now being told that the one stop was still the best option for the race – the Spaniard agreeing with the call.
Verstappen was now up to fifth after overtaking Piastri, while Norris was now up to 14th, having breezed past Alonso. Hulkenberg then became the latest driver in the pit lane, with Gasly having been stuck behind the Haas racer in ninth, now in free air.
Hamilton had dropped out of DRS range of Sainz, with Mercedes making the decision to bring him in for some hards, looking to undercut the Spaniard. Ferrari’s response was to extend Sainz’s stint.
As the drivers crossed the line to start Lap 26, McLaren were proving to be a team to keep your eye on. Norris had now moved up to 11th, while Piastri had swapped his mediums for hards and was now out in 10th.
Verstappen then breezed past Sainz, with Ferrari bringing the Spaniard into the pit lane for his own new set of hard tyres. He came back out in fifth, six seconds behind Hamilton, but with seven lap fresher tyres.
Leclerc was the last of the front runners to make the switch to the hards, coming back out in front of Hamilton, while Zhou came on the radio to say he could smell something burning on his car.
As the race settled down on Lap 33, the camera panned to Magnussen’s heavily damaged Haas in the barrier at Turn 8. Replays showed the Dane spinning into the barrier at the esses, with the rear of his car now on fire, forcing the stewards to stop proceedings by waving a red flag.
The drivers were now back into the pit lane as mechanics went to work on their respective cars. The likes of Albon and Ocon had only used one set of hard tyres, and with 36 laps left in the race could they use the mediums till the end?
After a 20-minute delay the drivers were back out on track getting ready for another standing start. While a few stayed loyal to their hard tyres, others – such as Hamilton, Piastri, Russell, Hulkenberg, Norris, Albon, Ocon, and Sargeant – went on to the mediums.
It was a cleaner start this time around, with the top four drivers all getting away unscathed, although Russell and Ricciardo did make slight contact, as the former made his way past for fifth.
Hamilton was now right on the back of Leclerc and was well within DRS range as they headed down into Turn 1. The Briton could not make a move, while just behind Ricciardo and Piastri were battling for sixth.
But on Lap 40, Hamilton finally made a brave move stick on Leclerc on the run down to Turn 1 as he appeared to dip a wheel in the grass before overtaking his Ferrari rival.
“That’s a long way on this tyre,” complained Hamilton, who was now over four seconds behind race leader Verstappen at the end of Lap 43. Behind them on the road, AlphaTauri were showing supreme pace with Tsunoda now having a look at Piastri for seventh.
“We believe in five laps the hard will be faster than the medium,” said Leclerc’s engineer. He was now three seconds adrift of Hamilton, but with 26 laps remaining, could he get the Mercedes driver for second?
Norris was showing his battling spirit as he quickly overtook the Alpines of Gasly and Ocon to get up to 11th on Lap 46 having dropped to 14th at the restart, before overtaking Hulkenberg to move up to 10th on the next lap.
Just as Russell was complaining of Sainz moving under the braking in their battle for fourth, the second Spaniard on the grid, Alonso, was called into the pit lane to retire his AMR23, having been running at the back of the field.
Piastri and Tsunoda made slight contact at Turn 3, as they battled for seventh. But their next collision proved to have more significant consequences, as Tsunoda went spinning at Turn 1 after bumping into the Australian – the stewards investigating the incident.
On Lap 55 of 71, Norris put in a personal best time to close within a second of Piastri ahead. McLaren swapped the pair, with Norris coming on the radio to thank Piastri. Just as they did that, the cameras panned to Perez on the pit wall being consoled by Christian Horner.
On Lap 60 of 71, Norris was now right on the back of Ricciardo and having closed the gap on the run down to Turn 1, the McLaren driver rather impressively went round the outside of his former team mate at Turn 4.
Back at the front, Verstappen was now in a world of his own as he was now 13 seconds ahead of Hamilton, who in turn had extended his lead over Leclerc to six seconds. Behind them, McLaren urged Norris to be patient as he closed in on Russell.
Further behind it was bad news for Hulkenberg on his 200th race start, as after multiple laps of trying, Ocon had finally made his way past for 10th, with Gasly following his team mate through on the next tour.
Back ahead, Norris made his pace advantage count as he finally overtook Russell at Turn 5. At the same time, Bottas sent Stroll for a spin at the stadium section, briefly bringing out the yellow flags – the Canadian driver coming straight into the pits to retire the car as the stewards started to investigate the incident.
Back at the front it was a record 16th win of the season for Verstappen, who crossed the line ahead of Hamilton in Mexico for the third year in a row. Leclerc took the final spot on the podium ahead of Sainz with Norris coming through the field to finish fifth.
Russell held off Ricciardo’s late advances to take sixth, with Piastri following the pair home in eighth. Albon was ninth once again for Williams as Ocon took the final point. Gasly was 11th for Alpine ahead of Tsunoda and Hulkenberg, with Bottas in 14th ahead of his team mate Zhou – who was the last of the remaining runners.
Sargeant retired on the final tour with a fuel pump issue joining Stroll, Alonso, Magnussen, and Perez as the drivers who failed to finish the race.
"To be honest, we of course are experiencing an incredible season," said Verstappen. "And today of course we had to start P3, but I think the pace of the car was very, very good.
"We tried to do a different strategy to everyone else and unfortunately with the red flag we couldn’t really show it. Nevertheless, on those hard tyres at the end, I think we were very, very strong."
The drivers do not have to wait too long to get back in the car as we head to Brazil next weekend for the final race of the triple header. To find out more about how you can watch all the action head to the RACE HUB.