Hamilton takes a contentious shortcut
Lewis Hamilton blamed a 300-degree brake temperature difference between his left-front and right-front tyres for the lock up which saw him sail straight onto the grass at Turn 1 at the start of Sunday’s race, saying the resulting flat spot caused him problems throughout his first stint. But unlike Max Verstappen, who locked up and took a similar shortcut while defending from Vettel later in the race (see below) and received a five-second penalty for leaving the track and gaining an advantage, Hamilton wasn’t investigated by the stewards - something the Dutchman and team mate Daniel Ricciardo were vocal in saying was wrong. Whichever side of the argument you are on, it’s clear from the video above that Hamilton’s plight (and Verstappen’s later on) was made a lot easier by the grass on the infield being both very dry and very smooth - had it not been, his transition back to the circuit (and back on the throttle) would certainly not have been nearly as easy…
Sainz pushes his childhood hero off the road
Carlos Sainz grew up idolising Fernando Alonso, but the Toro Rosso driver appeared to show his countryman little respect on the opening lap of Sunday’s race as he edged the McLaren driver towards the grass coming out of Turn 3. The move earned Sainz a five-second time penalty - a punishment he described as “harsh”. “At the start you cannot look 360-degrees,” Sainz said. "When I saw him I saw him late, but it's not like he was side-by-side with me. I've seen people not get a penalty for much worse.” However, Alonso suggested the penalty was not severe enough, saying: "They put five seconds [on his pit stop], but when you spend 50 laps behind that car your race is already compromised.” Even so, better to be compromised than be in the barriers, which drivers of lesser ability may have been after such a big moment on the grass.
Both angles: Hulkenberg spins battling Raikkonen
Force India’s Nico Hulkenberg was the only driver able to threaten the Mercedes, Red Bull and Ferrari stranglehold of the top six places in Sunday’s race, but his hopes were ultimately ended by this spin whilst trying to keep Kimi Raikkonen’s Prancing Horse at bay into Turn 4. "I was obviously defending, braking on the inside on the dirty part [of the track] on very old, worn tyres, absolutely on the limit,” explained a frustrated Hulkenberg. "He comes around the outside on fresh boots and just turns in on me. I'm like, 'Dude, where do you expect me to go?' I can't just disappear in the air. I tried to hang on to it, but no chance. It could've have been an accident, where I could've run into him and we both sustain substantial damage.” Raikkonen described his move as “more or less ok, racing-wise”, while his boss Maurizio Arrivabene described it as “pure class” - but what do you think?
Both angles: Verstappen fails to make a move stick on Rosberg
Backmarkers have been a hot topic in recent races, and, as this video shows, it was an untimely encounter with lapped traffic that nearly cost Nico Rosberg in his battle with Max Verstappen in Mexico. Having caught Daniil Kvyat’s Toro Rosso under braking for Turn 1, Rosberg then locked up and compromised his line through Turns 2 and 3, allowing Verstappen to gain crucial ground. Even so the Dutchman, perhaps mindful that he had far less to lose than Rosberg, was still coming from a long way back when he launched his attack on the Mercedes into Turn 4, and, as this video shows, after struggling to scrub off speed on the dirty side of the track it was only deft car control that prevented him from facing in the wrong direction. Rosberg, who perhaps wisely opted not the defend the move, quickly nipped back past his rival and disappeared into the distance, while Verstappen, his tyres now past their best, fell back into the clutches of Vettel…
Verstappen survives a brush with debris
Max Verstappen was a central figure in the thrilling climax to Sunday’s race, but as this video shows, he was extremely lucky to still be in contention for a podium at such a late stage after running over a fairly large chunk of debris on lap 53. Had the Dutchman hit the carbon fibre cast-off (a remnant from Esteban Gutierrez’s clash with namesake Esteban Ocon just moments earlier) at a different angle, he might very well have sustained front wing damage or even a puncture - but as it was he got away with nothing more than an audible thwack to his Red Bull’s floor.
Both angles: Verstappen goes off under pressure from Vettel
Sebastian Vettel had shown signs of tetchiness over the radio prior to the closing two laps in Mexico - but this was the incident that sent his temper into overdrive. Having pressured Max Verstappen into an error at Turn 1, the German was no doubt furious to see his rival return to the track ahead of him - the teenager losing so little momentum with his cross-country sojourn that he could afford to weave on the run down to Turn 4 to get the dirt off his tyres. That Verstappen then failed to cede the position to Vettel was, for the Ferrari star, the straw that broke the camel’s back. “I think it's pretty similar to what happened on Lap 1, corner one,” explained Verstappen, questioning why he was assessed a five-second penalty for the incident. “Lewis [Hamilton] went off, he gained a massive advantage. Nico [Rosberg] also went off in Turn 1 when we touched and he also gained an advantage. I didn't even gain an advantage, I was still ahead under braking and when I came back on the track I was the same length in front.”
Both angles: Vettel keeps Ricciardo at bay
There’s more than a hint of irony to the fact that Sebastian Vettel became the first driver to be punished under the new guidelines on defensive driving, given the situation arose from the German being trapped behind Max Verstappen - the very driver whose controversial tactics prompted the crackdown in the first place. Had Vettel been able to make a move stick, he might well have avoided falling into the clutches of the other Red Bull of Daniel Ricciardo. But did the Ferrari man's subsequent defence warrant the 10-second post-race time penalty which relegated him from the podium? As these angles show, there is no doubt Vettel moved left under braking, mindful, as he said after the race, that Ricciardo always 'jumps into the gap' - but to the Aussie that’s where the buck stopped. "It looked like he opened the door, I committed and had every right to be there, but he kept closing the door and in the end I had nowhere to go,” he said. “Don't get me wrong I love racing, I love racing hard and even a bit of contact, but this whole moving under braking - you don't move after you've been out-foxed.”