Categories: News

Max Verstappen is one step closer to first world title after an easy victory in the Mexican Grand Prix

What preceded…

The Mexican Grand Prix was already the eighteenth race of this long Formula 1 season. The title fight between Max Verstappen and Lewis Hamilton – after this race there are only four Grand Prix – was of course a main topic in Mexico City, but almost all eyes on the Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez were on one man: Sergio Pérez.

The Mexican Grand Prix has only been back on the calendar since 2015, and Pérez has never been able to compete in a truly competitive car. A win or podium was therefore always out of the question, barring a miracle. None of that in 2021: Czech this time entered a Red Bull, a car that has performed very well in the previous three editions of this race. Verstappen already won the Grand Prix with Red Bull in 2017 and 2018.

So the surprise was great when on Saturday another team claimed the front row of the grid. It was actually Valtteri Bottas who clocked the fastest time in qualifying, ahead of Mercedes teammate Lewis Hamilton. Verstappen and Pérez had to make peace with ‘only’ places three and four.

How did the start go?

Verstappen and Pérez immediately made up for their lesser qualifying. Both Mercedes got away well, but Verstappen and Pérez were behind them in the very long run-up to turn one. Verstappen was on the outside, braked later than both Bottas and Hamilton, overtaking both Mercedes at the same time.

Then all hell broke loose in the first corner. Daniel Ricciardo (McLaren) just tapped Bottas’ rear wheel, after which the Finn went around. Things also went wrong in the backfield: Esteban Ocon (Alpine) ended up in a sandwich between Yuki Tsunoda (AlphaTauri) and Mick Schumacher (Haas). Due to the damage, Tsunoda and Schumacher had to stop the fight immediately, after which the safety car came onto the track.

How did the victory come about?

When the safety car left the circuit after a few laps, the race could really start. And it soon became clear that Max Verstappen was a size too big for everyone today. The World Cup leader immediately left first pursuer Hamilton on the spot. Only a mistake by Verstappen himself or mechanical failure could keep him from winning. Fortunately for Verstappen, things didn’t go that smoothly: he was able to book his ninth victory of the year without too many problems.

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How high was the spectacle value?

In 2021, Formula 1 fans will already be spoiled. The Mexican Grand Prix was certainly not one of the most exciting or spectacular matches of this season, but there were some fights that kept the viewer interested. The important battle for second place between Hamilton and Pérez was especially impressive, not least because of the fanatical Mexicans who loudly cheered their hero on.

Pérez was able to hook up well with Hamilton in the first half of the race, but an attack attempt was never in it. When Hamilton made his only pit stop on lap 29 of 71, Pérez kept driving. In the end, he didn’t make his own pit stop until 11 laps later, allowing the home driver to complete the last 31 laps with much fresher tires than Hamilton. Pérez slowly but surely closed the gap and was under Hamilton’s rear wing in the last 10 laps. A catch up seemed to be in the making for a while, but in the end Hamilton managed to keep the Red Bull behind.

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Behind the three toppers, Pierre Gasly was the big star. The Frenchman of AlphaTauri was allowed to start fifth after a strong qualifying and immediately moved up to fourth place due to Bottas’ spin, a position he also effortlessly held afterwards. Ferrari also did good business in Mexico City: Charles Leclerc and Carlos Sainz Jr. were fifth and sixth, pushing the red team over McLaren to third place in the Constructors’ World Championship – and also punching a hole.

Sebastian Vettel had an all in all quiet race, but gave his Aston Martin team one of the best results of the year by finishing seventh. Veteran Kimi Räikkönen impressed with an eighth place for the modest Alfa Romeo, the last points were for Fernando Alonso (Alpine) and Lando Norris (McLaren). Daniel Ricciardo and Valtteri Bottas battled each other for much of the race, but both ended up outside the points.

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What do we remember from this race?

That Max Verstappen is a little closer to his first world title in Formula 1. The gap with competitor Lewis Hamilton is now 19 points. In the World Championship for constructors it is also becoming more and more exciting, because Mercedes now has only 1 point (!) ahead of Red Bull. And the next race is already coming up in Brazil next week.

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