[F1 2018 NEWS FEATURE] MEXICO GRAND PRIX: RACE REVIEW

Formula 1 news story about [F1 2018 NEWS FEATURE] MEXICO GRAND PRIX: RACE REVIEW

Red Bull Racing’s Max Verstappen has won his second-straight Mexican Grand Prix, his fifth career win - dominating on a day when Mercedes’ Lewis Hamilton finished fourth, claiming enough points to earn his fifth World Championship, matching the Maestro Juan Manuel Fangio.

Verstappen took the lead from second on the grid into Turn 1 - and never looked back, despite the appearance of multiple Virtual Safety Cars, replicating his 2017 form at the Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez.

“Yeah, amazing, the start was the key,” Verstappen said. “To be honest with you, I didn’t sleep very well last night. I was really determined to win today and luckily we did that. Amazing job by the team as well. We had the right tyres available and the car was working really well.”

The two Ferraris completed the Mexican podium, Sebastian Vettel finishing second ahead of teammate Kimi Raikkonen - despite the German charging throughout the race to try and secure the win he desperately needed to keep his title dreams alive. He will now have to wait until 2019 for his next title challenge, and he warmly congratulated his rival in parc firm.

Hamilton was naturally ecstatic following his fifth title win.

“It’s a very strange feeling right now,” he said. “I want to say a big thank you to my team. What I said on the radio was it wasn’t won here. It was won through a lot of hard work throughout a lot of races. I’m so grateful for the hard work back home, through all our partners. I’ve been with Mercedes since I was 13. So to complete this, when Fangio did it with Mercedes. It’s an incredible feeling, and a surreal moment.”

The sport now has a two-week break before the penultimate race in Brazil at the iconic Interlagos circuit in Sao Paulo on November 11.

Pos No Driver Car Laps Time/Retired PTS
1 33 Max Verstappen Red Bull Racing TAG Heuer 71 1:38:28.851 25
2 5 Sebastian Vettel Ferrari 71 +17.316s 18
3 7 Kimi Räikkönen Ferrari 71 +49.914s 15
4 44 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 71 +78.738s 12
5 77 Valtteri Bottas Mercedes 70 +1 lap 10
6 27 Nico Hulkenberg Renault 69 +2 laps 8

Here’s how the FORMULA 1 2018 MEXICO GRAND PRIX played-out lap-by-lap:

Build Up:
The Mexico Grand Prix is another, this time more likely, championship decider after Mercedes’ Lewis Hamilton failed to make the mathematics work for him last week in Austin. The Brit now only needs five points, just seventh place, or more to clinch a fifth world title and match the Maestro, Juan Manual Fangio. He starts third today, on the clean side of the grid, with his title rival Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel next to him in fourth on the second row of the grid. Vettel must win in Mexico to keep his dream alive, but it’s all over if Hamilton gets five points.

At the front, it’s the two Red Bull Racing cars - with Daniel Ricciardo on pole position for the third time in his career, his first since Monaco, with his teammate Max Verstappen alongside, for the team’s first front row lockout since the United States Grand Prix in 2013. But a straight-line speed deficit to the Mercedes and Ferrari behind them will mean they have to race in formation and stay very wide to keep their rivals behind. But with all of the the top four desperate to win, fireworks are expected down to Turn 1 with an 890 metre run down from pole position to the Turn 1 apex (the longest on the F1 calendar). Valtteri Bottas starts fifth, Kimi Raikkonen sixth - and the pair will play the rear gunner roles should they need to, depending on what plays out from the start.

On the fourth row of the grid, it’s the two Renaults - with Nico Hulkenberg ahead of Carlos Sainz, ahead of both Saubers, Charles Leclerc in P9, with Marcus Ericsson completing the top-10. The two Force Indias start outside the front half of the grid, with Esteban Ocon in P11 and hometown hero Sergio Perez in 13th. Fernando Alonso is between the two Force Indias in P12, with just three races left in his stunning F1 career. More than 300 races and two world championships in 2005 and 2006 with Renault his major career highlights.

Down the back of the grid, it’s Haas’ Romain Grosjean in 18th - the Frenchman penalised three-places for his collision with Leclerc at the previous race in Austin. Then it’s Williams’ Sergey Sirotkin, and Toro Rosso’s Pierre Gasly who drops 15-places for additional power unit elements as part of a new spec-three engine and another five for a gearbox change. Can the Honda-powered driver fight his way back into the top-10? It’s going to be a tough ask, given those ahead of him.

Strategically, it could be the first two-stop race for a while - with those starting on the ultrasofts likely to stop between laps 7-12 and then again around lap 37-46 for the supersofts. For those on the hypersofts, it’s about retaining performance for as long as you can, up to 10 laps the absolute limit before switching to the supersofts. Vettel has spoken about protecting his tyres, which could hint at a one-stop, which would mean stopping between laps 20-30, and then running to the end on the supersofts. We head into the race with a dry race expected, track temperature 32 degrees and ambient at 18.

Formation Lap:
The top-six are all on the ultrasofts, with the balance of the top-10 on the ultrasofts - along with Gasly in P20. Ocon (P11), Perez (P13), Hartley (P14), Magnussen (P16) and Grosjean (P18) are on the supersofts with the rest on the ultras.

Lap 1:
Ricciardo gets a good start, as Hamilton pushes through the Red Bulls - and he’s against Versyappen as he takes second into Turn 1. Alonso goes wide at Turn 1. Ricciardo is third ahead of Vettel. Bottas runs wide at Turn 5, trying to pass Vettel.

Lap 2:
Verstappen leads Hamilton by 1.1-second, then Ricciardo, Vettel and Bottas. As Ocon pits for a new front wing. Raikkonen is in P6, ahead of Sainz then Hulkenberg.

Lap 3:
Verstappen leads Hamilton by 1.3 seconds and building, sets the fastest lap, a 1:20.959. The top-four all staying in touch. Hulkenberg in P8 is all over the back of his teammate. DRS enabled.

Lap 4:
Verstappen is building his lead, 1.8 seconds up on Hamilton. The top six all separated by 1-2 second gaps. Magnussen passes Stroll for P13, as Alonso’s engine looks to be smoking.

Lap 5:
Alonso retires from the race. Virtual Safety Car deployed. Will we see anyone pit to get rid of the hypersofts? Gasly stops. VSC stood down.

Lap 6:
Verstappen leads Hamilton by 2-seconds, then it’s Ricciardo, Vettel, Bottas, Raikkonne, Sainz, Hulkenberg, Leclerc and Ericsson completes the top-10.

Lap 7:
So Vettel is in P4, but needs to win this race to keep the title chase alive. Hamilton saying his rears are sliding. Raikkonen in P6 is chasing Bottas, 0.8 sec the difference. Perez in P11 is just outside the points, 0.5 seconds the gap there - chasing Ericsson for the final point.

Lap 8:
Verstappen leads Hamilton by 1.6 seconds, the Brit saying “tyres are quite fragile.” Raikkonen is chasing down Bottas, just 1-second the gap there.

Lap 9:
Verstappen sets the fastest lap, a 1:20.923 - he’s leading Hamilton by 2.3 seconds. Hamilton told to “come down on diff in the high-speed”, with his front-left graining.

Lap 10:
Verstappen leads Hamilton by 3.4 seconds, with Hamilton a second off on that last lap - his tyres graining.

Lap 11:
Verstappen’s lead now up to 5.2 seconds, as Ricciardo comes within DRS range of Hamilton - smelling the chance of a one-two result for Red Bull. Perez tries to pass Ericsson for P10 into Turn 1, but can’t get past.

Lap 12:
Hamilton pits, as does Bottas, double stacking at Mercedes - the Brit onto the supersofts. Sainz pits as well. So the order is Verstappen, Ricciardo, Vettel, Raikkonen, then Hamilton in P5, Hulkenberg, Leclerc and Bottas in P8 after his stop.

Lap 13:
So how long can Verstappen last, as Ricciardo pits from P2. He’s onto the supersofts, and it’s a 2.3 second stop. Hulkenberg has pitted as well. Leclerc in P7 is challenging Bottas. So it’s now Verstappen, Vettel, Raikkonen, Hamilton, Ricciardo and Bottas - the top-six.

Lap 14:
Verstappen pits from the lead, to cover off Mercedes. He’s onto the supersofts, 2.6 second stop. Order is now Vettel, Raikkonen and Verstappen in P3. Then it’s Hamilton, Ricciardo and Bottas Leclerc pits from P7, drops to P15. Perez has passed Ericsson for P10 and the final point as the crowd roars.

Lap 15:
Verstappen is all over the Ferrari of Raikkonen, and he passes the Finn on the way down to Turn 1 - and he’s up to P2. This is going to be fascinating as he makes his way back to P1. Vettel is now 11.5 seconds ahead.

Lap 16:
Vettel leads Verstappen, who’s just done the fastest lap of the race, a 1:20.299 - 2-seconds faster than the German. Hamilton now has to pass Raikkonen to be sure he’s not passed by Ricciardo.

Lap 17:
Vettel leads Verstappen by 10.1 seconds. The Dutchman more than a second faster on that last lap. Hamilton tries to pass Raikkonen into Turn 1, and he gets past on the inside of Turn 3. He’s up to P3. Ricciardo also got past on the drag to Turn 4.

Lap 18:
Vettel pits from the lead. He’s onto the supersofts, 2.8 second stop. Kimi also told to pit. Vettel exits in P4 behind Ricciardo. Raikkonen drops back to P6 after his stop. Leclerc passes Grosjean for P11 down the main straight. Gasly is P15.

Lap 19:
So it’s Verstappen leading Hamilton by 8.1 seconds, then Ricciardo, Vettel, Bottas, Raikkonen and Perez who is yet to stop - but up to P5.

Lap 20:
Verstappen leads Hamilton by 8.7 seconds. Vettel and Raikkonen in P4 and P6 respectively have just done personal best laps. Leclerc in P11 has a train of cars behind him - Grosjean, Hartley, Ocon, Gasly and Vandoorne.

Lap 21:
Verstappen leads Hamilton by 9-seconds, the Dutchman looking very comfortable up front.

Lap 22:
The closest battle at the moment is the one behind Leclerc, with Ocon, Gasly and Vandoorne all less than a second between them. Hamilton says his tyres don’t feel great.

Lap 23:
Alonso remains the only one to retire from this race. Verstappen is building his lead, 9.4 seconds the gap over Hamilton. Ricciardo told Hamilton not happy on his tyres. Vettel has done another personal best lap.

Lap 24:
So it’s Verstappen, Hamilton, Ricciardo, Vettel, Bottas, Raikkonen, Perez, Sainz, Hulkenberg, Magnussen. Hamilton looking like he’ll become the world champion here, which will become the fifth time the crown has been secured in Mexico. Hamilton talking tyres with his engineer, and potential to go on the ultrasofts.

Lap 25:
Hamilton likely to take a second stop now, his tyres looking very blistered as they go through traffic. Ricciardo in P3 is 1.9 secs behind him. Williams mechanic looking injured during Stroll’s stop.

Lap 26:
Ricciardo now has Vettel in his mirrors, 1.1 seconds the gap. Ricciardo told supersofts can recover after 20-25 laps. Verstappen’s pace has slowed up front, he’s now in the 1:22.3s, while those behind are on the 1:21s.

Lap 27:
Hamilton told tyre appearance “similar to those around us” - and will be updated. As the leaders go through traffic, the top-11 on the lead lap now. Verstappen told there’s a long way to go as the strategy could switch.

Lap 28:
Verstappen leads Hamilton by 10.4 seconds. Gasly pits again. The top-nine are on the lead lap.

Lap 29:
Verstappen told to manage tyres as a lot of troubles behind. Vettel in P4 is within DRS range of Ricciardo as the pair go through traffic.

Lap 30:
Vettel is very close to Ricciardo, but traffic playing its part. The pair duelling into Turn 4. But Ricciardo stays ahead for P3.

Lap 31:
Yellow flags, Sainz has stopped at Turn 13 (with replays showing him turning out ahead of Verstappen). Virtual Safety Car has been deployed.

Lap 32:
Perez pits from P8. We’re still under VSC. Hamilton told to stay out, with ultrasoft option for him to go onto not guaranteed to go to the end of the race. Vettel ready to pounce on Ricciardo, as the VSC ends.

Lap 33:
Verstappen leads Hamilton by 13.5 seconds. Then Ricciardo, but he stays ahead of Vettel into Turn 1. The Australian making up a few car lengths for breathing space.

Lap 34:
An incredible battle between Ricciardo and Vettel for P3. And the German passes him into Turn 1 as Perez stays out of the fight, he remains behind Leclerc. Ricciardo says “what a joke!” about the back markers, who cost him the place.

Lap 35:
Perez passes Leclerc for P8 around the outside of Turn 1. Only the top-six are on the lead lap. At this stage, Hamilton will be the world champion - he just needs five points, and is in second with 18 set to come to him.

Lap 36:
Verstappen leads Hamilton by 12.6 seconds, the pair doing lap times within a tenth of each other.

Lap 37:
Vettel is now chasing down Hamilton, 1.9 seconds the gap - he’s done a personal best lap 1-second faster that the Brit.

Lap 38:
So it’s Verstappen, Hamilton, and Vettel - who is now within 1.1 seconds of the Brit now. Hamilton really struggling as they head out of Turn 3.

Lap 39:
Hamilton struggling as Vettel bears down on him, the German within DRS range now. And Vettel passes Hamilton for P2 into Turn 1, the Brit conservative with the title on the line. And while Vettel does have to win the race to keep his title dreams alive, Hamilton is in P3 - and will have more than enough points to claim it.

Lap 40:
Vettel is now chasing down Verstappen, doing personal best lap - 14.5 seconds the gap there, but just a tenth faster on that last lap. Perez has retired with something damaged on his car, which let go at Turn 12. Ocon and Hartley have made contact, with his front wing damaged.

Lap 41:
Vettel is eating into Verstappen’s lead, 13.6 seconds the gap.

Lap 42:
Vettel sets the fastest lap of the race, a 1:20.263. Half a second faster than Verstappen ahead, 13.3 seconds the gap. Ocon has stayed out with a damaged front wing. Hartley also has damage.

Lap 43:
Vettel has set another fastest lap, a 1:20.260 - and is 12.4 seconds behind Verstappen. Hamilton behind is unhappy with his tyres, and questions the team’s choice. Perez was out with brake issues.

Lap 44:
Another fastest lap for Vettel, a 1:20.112. He’s on a charge to catch and pass Verstappen to win this race. 12.1 seconds the gap. Ricciardo in P4 is 1.2 seconds behind Hamilton, and applying the pressure to the Brit who is struggling on his supersofts.

Lap 45:
Ricciardo told Hamilton’s tyres are angry, but can’t get him into Turn 1. And Hamilton stays ahead into Turn 3. As Magnussen pits for the first time in this race.

Lap 46:
Ricciardo can’t get past Hamilton into Turn 1, and stays ahead into Turn 4. Vettel is 11.4 seconds behind Verstappen in his attempt to reel in the leader.

Lap 47:
Grosjean pits. Ricciardo looks much closer on this lap. Hamilton locks up and goes deep into Turn 1, as Ricciardo passes him. The Mercedes team is preparing tyres.

Lap 48:
Vettel pits from P2! He’s onto the ultrasofts, 2.1 second stop - and Hamilton does the same, 2.6 second stop. Bottas locks up into Turn 1 and Raikkonen goes through for P4. A similar move to what happened with Hamilton and Ricciardo.

Lap 49:
Verstappen pits for supersofts and retains the lead. As Bottas pits from P5, he goes for the ultras. So it’s Verstappen, Ricciardo, Vettel, Raikkonen, Hamilton and Bottas. The top-six in a league of their own.

Lap 50:
Vettel in P3 has done the fastest lap, a 1:19.522. He’s flying on the ultrasofts, with the Red Bulls ahead. Ricciardo is yet to do a second stop. So still Hamilton has enough points to become 2018 F1 World Champion.

Lap 51:
Verstappen does a personal best lap, almost a second ahead of Ricciardo - who may get to the end of the race on his supersofts with team principal Christian Horner saying Verstappen’s tyres looked ok. Vettel in P3 is 2-seconds behind Ricciardo, but he’ll need to work fast before ultras fade.

Lap 52:
Verstappen leads Ricciardo by 6.1 seconds, then it’s Vettel 1.7 seconds behind. Raikkonen is 10-seconds behind his teammate. Ricciardo has just done a personal best lap, as he responds to Vettel.

Lap 53:
Ricciardo and Vettel are passing traffic, which has put breathing space between them. Hamilton saying “something definitely not right when I’ve got fresh tyres and I can’t match their pace.”

Lap 54:
Vettel has lost time to Ricciardo through traffic, 2.2 seconds the gap now. Gasly tries to pass Ocon at Turn 4 for P12, but Ocon pushes him wide.

Lap 55:
Gasly passes Ocon for P12 into Turn 1. Vettel now 1.2 seconds behind Ricciardo and closing for P2. Hamilton continuing to struggle in P5 on ultrasofts, as he’s lifting and coasting - he just needs to finish this race.

Lap 56:
Verstappen leads Ricciardo by 8.3 seconds, then it’s Vettel - who is now within DRS range as they go through more traffic.

Lap 57:
Ricciardo and Vettel pass Ericsson, as Vettel continues to close.

Lap 58:
Ricciardo does the fastest lap, a 1:19.462. He remains ahead of Vettel, 0.8 seconds the gap. Verstappen does a personal best, as he leads his teammate by 9.5 seconds.

Lap 59:
Gasly and Ocon told no further action from stewards over their earlier incident. Vettel has dropped back from Ricciardo, 1.4 seconds the gap.

Lap 60:
Vandoorne is in the points in P9. Verstappen leads by 11.2 seconds, Ricciardo 1.1 seconds ahead of Vettel. Ricciardo told: “Remember, the longer you keep him there, the more he’s going to struggle.”

Lap 61:
Ricciardo told Vettel does not have DRS. Both Mercedes have turned their engines down. As Ricciardo’s engine looks to have expired as he goes through the stadium section.

Lap 62:
Ricciardo’s losing pace, as he stops out at Turn 1. He shakes his head as he gets out of the car. Virtual Safety Car deployed. Mercedes in pit lane, but look like they are going back into the garage.

Lap 63:
Verstappen asks to check his engine, and turn it down if you need to turn it down. So it’s Verstappen, Vettel, Raikkonen, Hamilton and Bottas on the lead lap. Mercedes are again out in the pit lane.

Lap 64:
Bottas pits from P5, his third stop - and he’s onto the hypersofts. As the VSC ends. Bottas exits in P5, so a free pit stop - he’s 38-seconds behind Hamilton.

Lap 65:
Verstappen again asking his team to turn down the engine if they need to. He doesn’t want to lose this win.

Lap 66:
Bottas sets the fastest lap, a 1:19.331. Verstappen leads Vettel by 13.9 seconds - and the Dutchman has turned the wick up to respond to the Ferrari.

Lap 67:
Another fastest lap for Bottas, a 1:18.741 - 4.5 seconds faster than his teammate ahead. Only the top four are on the lead lap.

Lap 68:
Four laps from home. Verstappen doing similar lap times to Vettel, 15-seconds the gap.

Lap 69:
Verstappen told his engine has been turned down. Vettel was three tenths faster on that last lap.

Lap 70:
Verstappen has a comfortable 15-second lead over Vettel. The pair doing identical times on that last tour.

Lap 71 - FINAL LAP:
Verstappen wins the race, as Hamilton wins the championship.

Pos No Driver Car Laps Time/Retired PTS
1 33 Max Verstappen Red Bull Racing TAG Heuer 71 1:38:28.851 25
2 5 Sebastian Vettel Ferrari 71 +17.316s 18
3 7 Kimi Räikkönen Ferrari 71 +49.914s 15
4 44 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 71 +78.738s 12
5 77 Valtteri Bottas Mercedes 70 +1 lap 10
6 27 Nico Hulkenberg Renault 69 +2 laps 8
7 16 Charles Leclerc Sauber Ferrari 69 +2 laps 6
8 2 Stoffel Vandoorne McLaren Renault 69 +2 laps 4
9 9 Marcus Ericsson Sauber Ferrari 69 +2 laps 2
10 10 Pierre Gasly Scuderia Toro Rosso Honda 69 +2 laps 1
11 31 Esteban Ocon Force India Mercedes 69 +2 laps 0
12 18 Lance Stroll Williams Mercedes 69 +2 laps 0
13 35 Sergey Sirotkin Williams Mercedes 69 +2 laps 0
14 28 Brendon Hartley Scuderia Toro Rosso Honda 69 +2 laps 0
15 20 Kevin Magnussen Haas Ferrari 69 +2 laps 0
16 8 Romain Grosjean Haas Ferrari 68 +3 laps 0
NC 3 Daniel Ricciardo Red Bull Racing TAG Heuer 61 DNF 0
NC 11 Sergio Perez Force India Mercedes 38 DNF 0
NC 55 Carlos Sainz Renault 28 DNF 0
NC 14 Fernando Alonso McLaren Renault 3 DNF 0