Since Mexico returned to the calendar in 2015, the Autódromo Hermanos Rodríguez has proved a stunning place for a race…
…and for a World Championship decider, with Mercedes’ Lewis Hamilton banking more than enough points to secure his fifth, as Red Bull Racing’s Max Verstappen dominated for his second-straight win at the track.
At lights out, polesitter Red Bull’s Daniel Ricciardo got wheelspin, allowing Verstappen and Hamilton to drag down to turn 1 for the lead - with the 21- year-old Dutchman taking the inside line, and the place.
Ricciardo was third ahead of Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel with Valtteri Bottas fifth, after running wide at Turn 5 following contact with the German.
Up-front, Verstappen set the fastest lap for a 1.8 second gap on Hamilton; until McLaren’s Fernando Alonso retired, triggering the Virtual Safety Car.
The Dutchman continued his assault out front, building a 5.2 second lead over Hamilton by Lap 11, when Ricciardo was in DRS range – Mercedes stacking Hamilton and Bottas for supersofts on the following lap.
Verstappen pitted on Lap 14 to cover off the Mercedes undercut attempt, exiting in P3, passing Ferrari’s Kimi Raikkonen for second the next lap.
… with Verstappen reeling him in, Vettel was the last of the top-six to pit – on Lap 18 for supersofts – dropping to fourth behind Ricciardo, returning the Dutchman to the lead ahead of Hamilton… who began to struggle on his supersofts, ahead of Ricciardo and Vettel.
… with that pair duelling through traffic, until the Virtual Safety Car was again deployed on Lap 31 to recover the Renault of Carlos Sainz.
Through heavy traffic, Vettel passed Ricciardo for third on Lap 34 – before taking Hamilton for second just five laps later. Ricciardo got past Hamilton for third on Lap 47, just before the second round of pit stops.
It was then Verstappen, Ricciardo, Vettel, Raikkonen and Hamilton but a Red Bull one-two wasn’t to be as the Australian’s engine expired and he stopped on Lap 62. As Verstappen romped home.