What the teams said – Race day in Mexico
Merecdes pulled off a strategic masterclass today. Hamilton tangled with Verstappen at the start, running side by side through the first few corners, and wound up fifth as a result. The team pulled him in early to try and undercut Vettel ahead and decided to try out a one-stop strategy. With Leclerc and Albon dropping back on what proved to be slower two-stoppers, and Vettel trying a longer first stint, it shook down with Hamilton leading the race but on older tyres. But as usual, he managed to extract everything possible from the car to come home a couple of seconds ahead of a battling Vettel, with Bottas an impressive third as he too made the one-stop work.
Lewis Hamilton, 1st
"Today was a surprise, we've really struggled here for quite some time and we came into this weekend expecting it to be very difficult. We really thought we would be on the back foot, but we kept our heads down, we kept working hard and it all came together in the end. I had a crazy first couple of corners today, I was pushed on the grass at the start and then Max hit me. It was not easy to recover from that afterwards - I had a massive chunk of my floor missing, so the rear end was moving a lot and I had to really change the dynamic of how I was driving. I don't know how I managed to keep it going, but I did. The guys also did a fantastic job with the strategy - we stopped pretty early, and honestly I thought it might have been too early, but it all worked out in the end. I really wanted to deliver for the fans today; they were all out there during the drivers' parade supporting me, so I really wanted to give them a good performance and I'm so grateful we won."
Valtteri Bottas, 3rd
"Today was a very good day, especially considering the circumstances - the shape of my car after the crash yesterday and the fact that I started P6. I had a difficult start, but after that I had a very strong race. I looked after the tyres and managed to extend the first stint quite a bit, which opened up a few opportunities. I was trying to put some pressure on Sebastian, but ultimately, I don't think the margin between him and me was enough to overtake. We maximised our result and the entire team delivered today - from the mechanics fixing my car to the strategists coming up with a great plan for the race -everyone did a really good job. Yesterday, both Red Bull and Ferrari had the upper hand, but we've really been strong on Sundays this year and ultimately that's the day that matters. We secured the Constructors' Championship in the last race, but today's result shows that this team is still hungry and I'm really happy that all the hard work from everyone in Brackley and Brixworth paid off today."
Toto Wolff, Head of Mercedes-Benz Motorsport
"You could say today was an unexpected win. In recent years the conditions here in Mexico haven't suited our car but I am glad it came together today. We knew that we had to take some risks in order to win - so that's what we did it and it worked out. Lewis did an incredible job out there today, especially with tyre management. It's about finding the right balance between the aggressiveness you need to have, particularly on the outlap in order to undercut, but then equally you need to be able to switch off and manage the tyres to the end. This is where communication between the driver and the engineers is very important. It was also a monumental effort from the guys in the garage to put Valtteri's car back together after the state it was in after qualifying, so a very well done to them. It was a strong race from Valtteri as well and I'm happy to see how confident he is when he races, actually pushing Lewis hard. They are really benefitting from each other, they look at each other's data and both of them have really grown with the team."
Andrew Shovlin, Trackside Engineering Director
"This was the scene of our worst race last year; we were bottom of the class on tyre management and the power unit was struggling with the altitude. It's so nice to come back here and win one year later as a lot of work has gone into understanding why we were weak in both of those areas and making sure we didn't repeat the same mistakes twice. We didn't really know what to expect in the race as we'd made a lot of changes to the car after Friday night and the first stint was going to tell us whether we'd gone in the right direction. The warmer track seemed to help the tyres today and we could see early on that the degradation was low which brought the one stop back onto the table. Both drivers did a brilliant job managing the tyres and both had really good pace in the race. We couldn't follow closely as we were running hot on most things so the overtaking had to be done on strategy but the one stop worked well and to walk away with a first and third from where we started is extremely satisfying. It was great fun racing today and we are looking forward to Austin where we expect that to be another tough fight."
A case of what might have been. Vettel had to defend hard from Hamilton in the first corner, before clipping the back of his team mate. Both continued unscathed, and it was looking like a comfortable one-two for the team. But first they tried to cover off Red Bull by pitting Leclerc too early and leaving him stuck with a two-stop strategy which cost the Monegasque any chance of the win, and then they left Vettel out too long and gave up track position to Hamilton. Despite their drivers having fresher tyres with which to attack in the later stages, neither managed to get close enough to make a move.
Sebastian Vettel, 2nd
“We didn’t get is so wrong today. It was simply a case of not believing that the hard tyres could last so long, considering how early in the race Lewis pitted. He took a risk and it paid off. For our part, we tried both strategies; two stops for Charles and one for me and the final result proves that both of them were good. On Friday, we had a lot of graining, while today there was none and that made the difference, helping those who decided to take the risk.
"Obviously, we can’t be pleased with this result, because when you start from the front row, as a team, you expect to win. In the closing laps we lacked the speed to try and go for the win. For Lewis and Valtteri, everything went really perfectly, while maybe we were just a bit unlucky.”
Charles Leclerc, 4th
“Starting a race from pole and not finishing first is always disappointing. The beginning of the race went well, and I managed to stay in the lead for the first stint. Wanting to cover off Alex (Albon), we pitted early and committed to a two stop strategy.
"After my first stop the race was very tricky: my second stint was difficult and any time I approached a car ahead I struggled with overheating and couldn’t overtake.
"All in all, it’s a shame but if there is something I can learn from today it is to try to help the team more with my feedback from inside the car so that we can make the best call together.”
Mattia Binotto, Team Principal
“No doubt we cannot say we are happy today, as starting first and second you expect a different outcome. It was a long afternoon and we knew it would be a tough race, managing the tyres. In terms of strategy, who was behind took a gamble and decided to go for a very early one stop, which is what you do when you are not in front. Well done to them.
"Two stop strategy was still a good strategy but Charles’ second stint on medium was not great and we need to understand why, he also lost some time at the pitstop and all of that gave him some disadvantage at the end of the race.
"This unexpected behaviour of the tyres is probably the main surprise today. But in the end I think we had a good pace today and a good qualy yesterday and this is what is reassuring and encouraging us, so we are looking forward to the next races.”
Verstappen had a horror start - first he was pushed wide by Hamilton as they battled for position, dropping to eighth. He then picked up a puncture tangling with Bottas and limped back to the pits, emerging last. But from there he miraculously made his tyres last the distance, picking his way through the midfield to finish a credible sixth. Albon was running what would have been a career-best third in the early stages but he too was put on a two-stop strategy and thus lost out to the Mercedes duo.
Max Verstappen, 6th
“Sixth obviously isn’t where I wanted to finish today with the car we had but when you look at the circumstances I think it was still a very good race. I had a good start and I think Lewis got pushed onto the grass by a Ferrari so he lost some momentum. He came back around the outside at Turn 1 and then into Turn 2 he went very deep to defend and I had to go onto the grass to avoid him. The race was still on until I overtook Valtteri and he clipped my rear tyre which gave me a puncture and I had to do a whole lap to get back to the pits. After that I was forced to do a one stop which was very slow as I did 66 laps on the hard tyre. The result is a shame as the pace was good and the car was good but to come back to sixth was actually not a bad result if you look at everything that went on.”
Alex Albon, 5th
“Today was okay and I had good fun. I think it was one of my best races in terms of pace and the guys in front weren’t too far ahead! At the start we were running third and I was getting quite excited. It was great to be fighting at the front but unfortunately their one stop strategy worked out better. We stuck to a two stop strategy but I’m not sure if we had the pace or tyre life to make a one stop work. I lost quite a lot of time getting through traffic, especially after my first pit stop when I came out behind Sainz but there’s quite a high chance of getting traffic at this circuit. The boys also got the fastest pit stop of the race, so I obviously hit my marks! They have had a busy weekend so that was a great job and I’ll have to repay them. Overall, I’m happy with my performance and I’m improving my consistency which is important. The lap times are coming and now I’ve got three more races to improve even further!“
Christian Horner, Team Principal
“After a decent start Max got into some hard wheel-to-wheel racing with Lewis through the first few turns and ended up losing positions when he was forced to take a detour onto the grass. As he was coming back through the field Valtteri clipped Max’s rear tyre with his front wing endplate which gave Max a puncture. He had to do a full lap with that puncture and pit for the hard tyre which meant his race was effectively over as he completed 66 laps on one set of tyres. Alex was running in third place after avoiding the early race madness and pitted early as we chose to go onto a two-stop strategy with him. He lost a bit of time on his out lap behind Sainz but thereafter it transpired that the one-stop was the faster race and while Alex had good pace it was impossible to close the gap. He’s showing good progress each weekend and signs of getting closer and closer to the pace. We had a very quick race car this weekend and P5 and P6 ultimately isn’t the result we’d hoped for but there are definitely some positives to take.”
Starting 11th with free tyre choice proved to be very beneficial for the home favourite, as Perez picked off the struggling Toro Rosso pair in the early stages. The king of managing tyre wear had to endure a long second stint on the hard compound and despite heavy pressure from Ricciardo, managed to come home 'best of the rest' in front of the adoring crowd. As for Stroll, he had his work cut out starting much further back and couldn't manage to sneak into the points.
Sergio Perez, 7th
“This is a great day for me and my team. I think the race was just about perfect and I want to congratulate the entire team for all their hard work delivering this result. It’s extra special to score good points in my home race - in front of the fans who have given me so much support this week. There were some cars that were a bit quicker than us today, but we beat them with a fantastic strategy. This feels like a victory for us. The race was so intense, especially the battle against Daniel [Ricciardo] at the end – when he was on fresher tyres and putting big pressure on me. I had to concentrate so hard and push right until the end. I’m very satisfied with our performance and the points we scored today are important for the fight in the teams’ championship.”
Lance Stroll, 12th
“We had a great opening lap and a strong first stint - managing the gaps to build a tyre advantage over our main competitors and we were solidly inside the points. The second stint wasn’t so straightforward: we struggled with front graining so we need to understand why it impacted us so much. It’s a shame we couldn’t capitalise on the track position we had to score some points today because the pace was good and the car was strong. We need to review the data, see what we could have done differently and come back fighting in Austin.”
Otmar Szafnauer, Team Principal & CEO
“It’s satisfying to finish in seventh place as ‘best of the rest’ with Sergio executing a very strong one-stop race. It’s another indication of the progress we’ve made with the car recently thanks to all the hard work back at base and trackside. I’m also delighted Sergio could reward his local fans with this result. With Lance, we just missed out on points in P12, which is disappointing considering how strong the first half of the race had been. For a reason we must work to understand, the switch to hard tyres proved challenging with severe graining on the front tyres. Until that point, his pace was on par with that of Sergio and we were set to have both cars finish inside the points. Nevertheless, we leave Mexico with six points in the bag, which bring us within nine points of fifth place in the championship as we travel to Austin for next week’s United States Grand Prix.”
Ricciardo gambled and was the only man to start on the hard compound tyre. He made his last an impressive 50 laps - which incidentally inspired the Mercedes strategy calls - and was in prime position in the closing stages on fresh rubber. He put Perez under immense pressure in the battle for seventh but out-braked himself in what proved to be his best chance and had to settle for P8. As for Hulkenberg, he made his way up into the points despite overheating issues, only to be tipped into the barriers by Kvyat on the final lap. He limped home minus his rear wing and just managed to grab the final point on offer when the Russian was subsequently penalised.
Nico Hulkenberg, 10th
“We definitely wanted more today, so it’s frustrating to only pick up one point. We perhaps were a little bit too keen to pit early. In the latter stages of the race I was struggling with the car a bit, trying to get in a rhythm. There’s not much to say about the final corner incident. We were running in ninth, but I had no grip, I was pushed by Daniil [Kvyat] and it doesn’t take much to spin. It was a shame as it cost us an extra point.”
Daniel Ricciardo, 8th
“It’s good to be in the points. I could have got more if I had passed Perez but I just couldn’t make it stick. I sent it into Turn 1, maybe a little late and the postman wasn’t there! We made a really strong start on the hard tyre and that set us up for the rest of the race. It’s a solid day with both cars back in the points. It’s been a tough week for the team, so I’m proud of them and how they’ve kept their spirits high. We regrouped quickly and we can be pleased with that, but now we have to move on and keep it up.”
Cyril Abiteboul, Team Principal
“Every weekend, it feels like the circumstances vary but the script remains the same: poor qualifying that we turn around during the race thanks to aggressive strategic choices and solid execution. Today was another example, with also the benefit of the free tyre choice at the start. It could have been a bit better with Daniel racing cleanly against Perez on one side, and Kvyat much dirtier against Nico and helping Gasly on the other side. That’s racing, but I prefer that we focus on ourselves. The drivers did a remarkable job to get the best from the circumstances in qualifying and then make the tyres last in the race. The garage crew also did a phenomenal job to deal with the problems on Saturday morning. We must get rid of everything that undermines our potential or offers easy opportunities on-track or off-track to our fierce competitors.”
Despite starting on the soft compound tyre and having to pit very early, Toro Rosso were looking well placed with Kvyat managing to undercut Sainz in the first round of stops. They had to pit twice but were running with two cars on the fringes of the top 10 until a late moment of madness on the final lap saw Kvyat try and squeeze down the inside of Hulkenberg into a gap that wasn't there. He tipped the German into the wall, earning himself a 10-second time penalty, which dropped the Russian from P10 to 11th. It did enable his team mate to squeeze past the stricken Renault and steal ninth though...
Daniil Kvyat, 11th
“We knew it was going to be difficult today with our starting compound, but we still had high hopes to get some points. I think the race was very strong given the circumstances. In a way we kind of compromised our race with our good qualifying. I’m quite upset with the penalty I received because as a racing driver, I disagree with it because we are told we are allowed to race. Nico was defending and I was attacking and these things happen, especially on the last corner of the last lap. Despite this, I feel very strong after this weekend; Friday, qualifying, and the race were all strong for me, so I’m looking forward to getting back on track next week in Austin.”
Pierre Gasly, 9th
“It wasn’t easy at all inside of the cockpit, but today I gave everything and I’m happy with scoring two points. Overall the car has been competitive all weekend, which was positive. Starting the race on the option tyre clearly wasn’t ideal, but we tried to make the best out of it. In the end we managed to make it work which was important for our battle in the Championship.”
Guillaume Dezoteux, Head of Vehicle Performance
“We had a tough race today in Mexico. Having to start on the soft tyres definitely compromised our race as we had to stop earlier than the other midfield runners to try and make the two stop strategy work. Daniil drove a strong race and he was showing good pace in the middle stint on the hard tyres. After his last stop, he was catching Stroll in front but couldn’t pass immediately and had to let by a long train of leading cars. The time lost with the blue flags meant he could only catch Hulkenberg on the very last laps. The move on the last corner was a bit ambitious and unfortunately Daniil had a 10s penalty for causing a collision. Pierre had a very similar strategy as he too started on the soft tyre. He lost more time in traffic, especially behind Sainz who was struggling a lot on the hard compound. The second half of the race was competitive as he ran most of the time in free air and he was able to pass Stroll and get closer to Daniil and Hulkenberg. The collision in the last corner allowed him to finish P9."
Toyoharu Tanabe, Honda F1 Technical Director
"It was a disappointing race in that we were unable to convert the speed we had shown all weekend into a better result. The Toro Rosso drivers, after showing good pace all weekend, had a frustrating race, possibly handicapped by having to start on the used softs from qualifying. But at least Gasly’s two points are useful for the fight for fifth place in the Constructors’ classification. There are only three more races to go and we want to make the most of every opportunity, starting in Austin in a few days’ time."
McLaren started strongly, despite being on the unfancied soft compound tyres. But their race rapidly unfolded in the pit stop period. First Norris was released despite his front-left wheel being incorrectly fitted. He stopped in the pit lane, but lost so much time being wheeled back by his frantic crew that he emerged last and later retired. Sainz switched to the hard tyres in his stop but couldn't get them to their optimum working range and dropped like a stone through the field. By the time he cut his losses and fitted some mediums, he was too far back to compete.
Carlos Sainz, 13th
“It’s been a bad and frustrating afternoon for the whole team. After such a strong qualifying yesterday and a great start today, managing to slip into P4, it was very disappointing to go backwards after the first pit stop.
“The hard tyre simply ruined our race. We need to analyse in detail what happened and why we had such a poor stint on that compound. Austin is right around the corner so there is no time to lose. We’ll keep our heads down and work hard to come back stronger next weekend.”
Lando Norris, DNF
“I had another really good start, a good first few corners and managed to get ahead of one of the Red Bulls and one of the Mercedes. My first stint was good and we had better pace than the Toro Rossos.
“I think we had a wheel nut cross-threaded at my stop, I’m not too sure, but the team decided to play safe by immediately stopping the car and bring it back to check it. I was running pretty much a lap down and had several blue flags which made the race even more difficult. Some parameters of the car were beyond the limit and we retired to avoid further damage.”
Andreas Seidl, Team Principal
“After several good Sundays in a row, unfortunately today didn’t go to plan at all. We couldn’t continue the good race pace we’d shown over the previous two days, which is something we need to analyse and understand. Therefore, after a strong start, we weren’t able to stay in the positions from which we’d started the race and fell out of the points with Carlos, whose pace dropped a lot when fitting the hard tyre – something we need to investigate.
“On Lando’s side, after having a great start as well, we unfortunately had an issue with the wheel nut on one corner at his pit stop. Our policy is to be completely safe and we stopped the car immediately to check it and fix it, even if this meant his race was over very early. Later, some of the parameters of his car were over the limit, so we decided to retire him to save further damage. Thanks to the entire team, Carlos and Lando, for the hard work this weekend. Let’s reset, learn from the issues we were facing today and come back stronger.”
Haas have historically struggled here and were unlikely to feature starting so far back. The team started both drivers on the same medium tyres, with Magnussen running a shorter first stint and Grosjean pitting much later. Neither proved fruitful, with the Frenchman being beaten home by the Williams of Russell to boot.
Romain Grosjean, 17th
“It was a tough afternoon. Nothing was working very well, we just have to hope that the next race is better. We need to keep looking to find out what’s going on with the car. Here, it hasn’t felt right since FP3, and the race confirmed that.”
Kevin Magnussen, 15th
“I think we did a good job considering we made a one stop strategy work. We had damage on the car, I was hit by Kimi (Raikkonen) at the start, we were all squeezed up and he damaged my floor. Taking those things into consideration, and knowing that we just didn’t have the pace today, I think we did the best that we could.”
Guenther Steiner, Team Principal
“Obviously it was a disappointing race for us. We got the best out that we could in terms of our performance this weekend. We didn’t make any mistakes or anything, there just wasn’t more performance in the car. Going into this weekend we knew this would likely happen. We go away knowing that coming in here we were weak, and we go away weak. That doesn’t mean that we give up. We’ll try again in Austin where it’s a little bit of a more normal race track, and we’ll see if we can get a little bit more out than we did today.”
It was a tough race for Alfa Romeo, with Raikkonen retiring towards the end of the race for only the second time this season with technical issues. Giovinazzi couldn't extract any pace from the C38 and wasn't helped by a botched pit stop which included being dropped off the jack. He trailed home well outside the points.
Kimi Raikkonen, DNF
“It’s a shame to have to retire from the race because generally we had been a bit happier with things this weekend. Unfortunately, much of our day was decided at the start. I got squeezed between two cars and a big chunk of my floor was destroyed. The cooling was damaged too and later in the race the temperatures went very high and we had to stop the car. It’s unfortunate but that’s how racing goes sometimes. At some point our pace wasn’t too bad, so let’s hope we can keep improving next week.”
Antonio Giovinazzi, 14th
“My start wasn’t too bad and in the opening phases I was racing with the Renaults and Racing Points, but the pit-stop issue cost us a lot of time. After that, with no Safety Car or VSC, our race was effectively compromised. I was pretty much on my own for the rest of the afternoon, so it’s hard to tell where we stood in terms of pace. We will need to work hard to get back ahead of next week, in Austin.”
Frederic Vasseur, Team Principal
“It’s disappointing to leave Mexico without points because our overall performance throughout the weekend had been better than previously. Unfortunately, Kimi sustained damage to the floor and cooling system at the first corner. He lost a lot of performance and later in the race the cooling issues meant he had to stop. Antonio was on a good strategy and was showing some decent pace, but lost more than 20 seconds in the pit-stop and that put him back in blue flag territory, meaning he wasn’t able to make any progress. We can rue the loss of this opportunity, because we could have been battling with the Toro Rossos for the points, but we can look forward to racing again in seven days.”
Lacking the pace to compete, at least Williams weren't alone at the back of the field. With Haas for company, the four drivers had a few entertaining tussles, with Russell eventually getting the better of Grosjean. Kubica propped up the field after a late puncture forced him back into the pits with a handful of laps remaining.
Robert Kubica, 18th
"The feeling in the car was much better than yesterday. I managed to make good decisions in the battles, there was a lot going on and I gained a couple of positions at the start. George managed to get in front of me as I had a long pit stop, but then I managed to overtake him. It was unfortunate that I had to stop for the second time because of a slow puncture. Thanks for the support from the Mexican fans, it was an amazing atmosphere today."
George Russell, 16th
"I made a great start and through Turns 1, 2, and 3 I was in the right place at the right time and gained a load of positions. For Turns 4, 5, and 6 though I was in the wrong place at the wrong time and lost them all. I spent most of the race right behind Robert, but I think he had a problem near the end and had to do an additional pitstop. In the final 10 laps I was in clear air and the pace was extremely strong, so if I’d managed to hold onto those positions after the first few corners then I could have maintained them. A bit of a missed opportunity and we should have finished higher."
Dave Robson, Senior Race Engineer
"George made a good start and made up places through T1/2/3. Unfortunately, he lost these later in the opening lap and this set the tone for his race. Had he been able to stay ahead for the opening lap then his underlying pace would have given him a good opportunity to stay ahead to the end.
"For Robert, the car and tyres were much better today, and he was able to get ahead of George and stay there until a puncture forced him to make an unscheduled pitstop. This was a great shame for Robert as he had strong pace and demonstrated some excellent race craft.
"We raced well today and made the most of the car that we had. We will, of course, review each decision that we made and determine if we could’ve made a better choice, but overall, we did a sound job of managing the car in the challenging conditions of Mexico.
"We now turn our attention to next week and the exciting prospect of racing in Austin. We are expecting a busy Friday with an additional set of 2020 tyres available for both cars. We also look forward to having Nicholas back in the car for FP1."
Mario Isola, head of F1 and Car Racing
"There were a number of different strategies at work during the race, with drivers also reacting to what the others were doing. The one-stopper was helped to be made possible by track temperatures that were warmer than previous days and no more rain, meaning that there was less sliding and reduced graining, which tipped the balance back towards one or two stops, rather than two or more. The hard tyre was the crucial one for the race and we saw some very long stints run on this compound. Lewis Hamilton in particular made the very most of it in order to seal another win, despite not being on the front row of the grid, on a track where overtaking is always quite tricky."