[F1 2019 NEWS FEATURE] MEXICO GRAND PRIX: RACE REVIEW

Formula 1 news story about [F1 2019 NEWS FEATURE] MEXICO GRAND PRIX: RACE REVIEW

Lewis Hamilton has won the Mexican Grand Prix for a second time, the Mercedes driver making his tyres last on a one-stop strategy for the Silver Arrows’ 100th victory from third on the grid. The race win not enough to seal his sixth crown, with the title decider now set to go to Austin.

Hamilton got a great start, but had a tankslapper into Turn 2 that dropped him down to fifth place. But he fought his way back to the front, stopping on Lap 21 for the hard tyres - which he stayed on all the way to the chequered flag, despite coming under fire from Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel in the closing stages.

“Today’s an incredible result. I have to say a huge thanks to my team,” Hamilton said. “The guys have just continued to work incredibly hard, stay focused [and[ we came here thinking we were on the back foot, knowing that it was a difficult race for us and we pulled through. I mean I had quite a bit of damage on my car, so this race was quite a bit of a struggle. But I just kept my head down and it seemed like a long second stint. But I’m so grateful for today.”

Vettel and teammate closed out the podium, the pair separated by 1.7 seconds at the chequered flag. There’s now just one week until the next race at Austin’s Circuit of the Americas.

Pos No Driver Car Laps Time/Retired PTS
1 44 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 71 1:36:48.904 25
2 5 Sebastian Vettel Ferrari 71 +1.766s 18
3 77 Valtteri Bottas Mercedes 71 +3.553s 15
4 16 Charles Leclerc Ferrari 71 +6.368s 13
5 23 Alexander Albon Red Bull Racing Honda 71 +21.399s 10
6 33 Max Verstappen Red Bull Racing Honda 71 +68.807s 8

Here’s how the 2019 FORMULA 1 MEXICO GRAND PRIX played-out lap-by-lap:

Build Up:
There’s plenty of excitement ahead of the Mexican Grand Prix, with Lewis Hamilton able to clinch his sixth F1 World Championship if he can outscore his Mercedes teammate Valtteri Bottas by 14-points - but he’s only done it once this year, in Hungary (where it was a 21-point deficit). So the maths will have to be done throughout the race, with the Brit starting third on the grid.

On the front row, both Ferraris - for the second-straight race - with Charles Leclerc on pole position ahead of Sebastian Vettel. The pair set for an 811-metre drag race down to Turn 1, with the slipstream important and Leclerc giving Vettel that advantage in Russia - and not immediately repaid for his efforts. Leclerc cleared to race after a gearbox check pre-race. A Ferrari on pole for the sixth-straight race, with a record-65th front row lockout for the Scuderia.

Red Bull Racing’s Max Verstappen starts from fourth on the grid, the Dutchman earning the pole on the road - but given a three-place grid penalty for ignoring yellow flags for the final corner crash of Mercedes’ Valtteri Bottas. And his post-qualifying press conference answer on whether he lifted at the final corner ultimately earning the wrath of the race stewards. “It didn’t really look like it, did it? No,” Verstappen said.

It’s going to be an absolutely fascinating start, with both Ferraris desperate to stay ahead into Turn 1 - and Hamilton and Verstappen on the second row gunning to push for the lead. Verstappen’s teammate Alex Albon starts behind him in P5, the Anglo-Thai racer disappointed to be over half a second adrift of the Dutchman. Bottas, who is the only man who can deny Hamilton a sixth title (earned for the third-straight season) in Mexico, starts in P6, his equal-lowest starting position this year, since Canada.

Incredibly, the top-10 is then completed by both McLarens and both Toro Rossos - with Carlos Sainz in P7, ahead of Lando Norris. And Daniil Kvyat in P9 ahead of Pierre Gasly. Local superstar Sergio Perez will be hoping to earn points in front of his home crowd, with the Racing Point driver starting in P11. The Mexican starts ahead of both Renaults, Nico Hulkenberg ahead of Daniel Ricciardo. The Australian full of rage after missing out on Q3 by three tenths of a second. The pair confined to the garage in FP3 due to contamination in their cars’ cooling systems.

Strategically, it’s likely a two-stop race - with the lead pack all starting on the medium tyres - and the hards likely to be involved at some point. The fastest way through the race for those on the mediums is to stop between laps 15-24, change to the hards and then between laps 47-55 switch back to the mediums. For more racier rubber to finish the race, we might see medium starters stop between laps 21-29, switch to the hards and then onto the softs between laps 50-57. For a longer final stint, medium starters might stop between laps 14-22, switch to a new set of mediums and then take on the hards between laps 31-39 all the way to the end.

But anything can happen, with a 100 per cent safety car record in the most recent races from 2015-2018. It takes 22-seconds to take a pit stop, and with a dry race expected - just 20 per cent chance of rain - teams will need to think on their feet.

Formation Lap:
The majority of the grid starts on the mediums, including the top-six. Both McLarens (Sainz P7, Norris P8) and Toro Rossos (Kvyat P9, Gasly P10) are on the softs. Ricciardo starting from P13 is going long to start on the hards.

Lap 1:
Polesitter Leclerc gets a good start, Vettel is dragging him down to Turn 1 but can’t get past. Contact and chaos into Turn 2, Hamilton and Verstappen down the order after contact. Hamilton down to P5, Verstappen P9. Sainz is in P4. Albon up to P3. Verstappen up to P8. Virtual Safety Car has been deployed as the pack heads into the stadium.

Lap 2:
Leclerc leads Vettel, Albon, Sainz, Hamilton, Norris, Bottas, Verstappen, Kvyat, Gasly, Perez, Ricciardo, Hulkenberg, Stroll, Giovionazzi, Raikkonen, Magnussen, Kubica, Russell, Grosjean. Replays show Hamilton and Verstappen trying to not make contact into Turn 2, as the Brit skids about going wide. The two Ferraris touched into Turn 2 as well. Raikkonen shown to be sandwiched by a Haas and Williams.

Lap 3:
VSC ended. Leclerc leads Vettel by 1.6 seconds. Hamilton down in P5, Verstappen P8. DRS enabled.

Lap 4:
Vettel and Hamilton incident into Turn 1 under investigation. Raikkonen sets the fastest lap, a 1:23.490 - the Finn in P16. Bottas in P7 is all over the back of Norris.

Lap 5:
Verstappen ahead of Bottas into the stadium at Turn 14 for P7. Bottas retakes the place into Turn 1. Hamilton in P4 sets the fastest lap, a 1:21.275. Verstappen has a puncture, his rear right. The rubber delaminating into Turn 2. The puncture in passing Bottas into the stadium.

Lap 6:
Bottas passes Norris for P6 into Turn 1. Verstappen pits, onto the hards. 4-second stop.

Lap 7:
Leclerc leads Vettel by 1.3 seconds, then Albon and Hamilton - the lead pack well ahead of Sainz in P5. Albon is matching the Ferraris on pace. No further investigation on Vettel/Hamilton contact at start.

Lap 8:
Leclerc 1.6 seconds ahead of Vettel. Bottas told it’s critical to cool brakes. He then takes Sainz for P5 into Turn 1. Verstappen in 20th and last - and has set the fastest lap, a 1:20.601.

Lap 9:
Leader Leclerc 1.2 seconds up on Vettel. Perez in P9 is chasing Kvyat - 0.5 seconds the gap. Ricciardo is in the points in P10.

Lap 10:
Hamilton in P4 is less than a second behind Albon now. Perez gets ahead of Kvyat, despite the Russian’s aggressive defence, to take P8 into Turn 1.

Lap 11:
Albon in P3 is keeping Hamilton behind him. 4.4 seconds covers the top-four. Kvyat pits for the hards, 2.7 second stop.

Lap 12:
Leclerc’s lead over Vettel is now 1.6 seconds. Albon in P3 has DRS on Vettel, but can he close the gap? Hamilton told to cool front left brakes, the Mercedes weak on brake temps in dirty air of another car.

Lap 13:
Norris pits, hard tyre - 3.3 second stop. Front left is not on. The mechanics are running down the pit lane. The car is being rolled back to his box.

Lap 14:
Leclerc leads Vettel by 2-seconds now. Albon is 1.8 seconds adrift of the second Ferrari in P3. Hamilton is keeping in touch, 1-second the gap to Albon. Norris back on track.

Lap 15:
Albon pits, for the mediums - 2.2 second stop. He’s confirmed for a two-stop here. Hamilton is released. Sainz passes Albon for P5 into Turn 1, the Anglo-Thai driver robbed coming out of the pits. The pair dicing for position.

Lap 16:
Leclerc pits from the lead, he’s onto the mediums - 2.3 second stop. And exits down in P4. Sainz pits as well, dropping down the order. So it’s Vettel, Hamilton, Bottas, Leclerc and Albon.

Lap 17:
Vettel leads Hamilton by 2.1 seconds. The top-three yet to stop - Vettel, Hamilton and Bottas. Norris under investigation for unsafe pit release.

Lap 18:
Vettel told Hamilton is on a one-stop, so likely he will switch to that to cover the Mercedes. Leclerc told this is an important stint, to recover ground on two-stop.

Lap 19:
Vettel leads Hamilton by 1.8 seconds. Leclerc in P4 sets the fastest lap, a 1:20.446. Norris told to give it everything, the Brit down in 20th.

Lap 20:
Vettel still leads Hamilton, by 2-seconds. Bottas 6.9 seconds behind his teammate in P3. Then it’s Leclerc, Albon and Perez. Kvyat in P11 is chasing Magnussen, and passes the Dane for the final point paying place.

Lap 21:
Hamilton told front-left brake caliper hot. Perez pits from P6. He’s onto the hards and behind Kvyat in P10.

Lap 22:
Vettel leads Hamilton by 1.8 seconds. Sainz passes Magnussen for P11 down the pit straight. Giovinazzi pits from P8. Hamilton suffering with brakes behind leader Vettel. Problems at Alfa Romeo, Giovinazzi has an issue at his stop, right rear issue - tyre comes off as he’s leaving, and has to be put onto the rim.

Lap 23:
Perez is ahead of Kvyat for P8, with Stroll ahead. Replays show Verstappen making contact with Magnussen into Turn 2. Raikkonen passes Magnussen for P14.

Lap 24:
Hamilton pits for hards, 2.4 seconds. Is he one stopping? He’s exiting in P4, behind Leclerc. Will he undercut Vettel? The two Williams cars racing, Kubica defending hard. Vettel told to mode box, to prepare car for his stop.

Lap 25:
Vettel leads Bottas by 6.7 seconds, then it’s Leclerc and Hamilton. Verstappen passes Gasly for P12 into Turn 1.

Lap 26:
Hamilton sets the fastest lap, a 1:19.926. He’s had to make his way through the two Williams cars, held up by Kubica through the opening complex.

Lap 27:
Leclerc told to push as much as he can. Top-four all separated by 6-seconds, 18-seconds covering them.

Lap 28:
Vettel leads Bottas by 6.2 seconds. Verstappen passes Hulkenberg for P11 into Turn 1.

Lap 29:
Hamilton feels he’s stopped too early. Will Vettel’s late stop work out and keep him in the lead?

Lap 30:
Magnussen pits. Verstappen in P11 is 1.1 seconds behind Sainz, the Dutchman in sight of the points. And he takes the place into Turn 1. But the pair continue squabbling into Turn 4, but the Dutchman retakes the place.

Lap 31:
Vettel leads Bottas by 6.1 seconds, the Finn three tenths of a second faster on that last lap. Hamilton in P4 is suffering with his hard tyres. Hulkenberg passes Sainz into turn 1 for P11, as he locks up on exit.

Lap 32:
Vettel leads Bottas by 5.8 seconds. The German looking cool at the front.

Lap 33:
Top-five all spread out. Mercedes keeping Hamilton in the zone, the Silver Arrows going for the win.

Lap 34:
Bottas eating into Vettel’s lead, 4.9 seconds the gap. Gasly in P13 is chasing down Sainz, and he takes the slipstream but can’t get past.

Lap 35:
Gasly and Sainz going wheel to wheel. Vettel now just 4.4 seconds ahead of Bottas as he approaches traffic.

Lap 36:
Gasly and Sainz having an amazing battle, Sainz keeping the upper hand. Gasly taking the place into Turn 4 - as the leaders come through. Vettel loses time with that battle going on.

Lap 37:
Bottas pits from P2, he goes onto the hards - 2.5 second stop. He exits behind P5, behind Vettel, Leclerc, Hamilton and Albon. Vettel told mode box and push.

Lap 38:
Vettel pits from the lead, crucial stop. He’s onto the hards, 2.5 second stop. He drops back to P4 behind Leclerc, Hamilton and Albon.

Lap 39:
Verstappen passes Kvyat for P8 into Turn 1 - his next target is Perez. Leclerc leads Hamilton by 8.1 seconds.

Lap 40:
Vettel in P4 sets the fastest lap, a 1:19.817 - the German is 14.1 seconds behind leader Leclerc, who has to stop again. Albon told he’s doing a great job in P3.

Lap 41:
Leclerc leads Hamilton by 8.6 seconds. Verstappen in P8 is chasing down Perez.

Lap 42:
Only the top-12 are on the lead lap. Verstappen passes Perez for P7 into Turn 1.

Lap 43:
Leader Leclerc complaining his front tyres are suffering.

Lap 44:
Leclerc pits from the lead, he’s onto the hards - but a right rear issue. 6.2 second stop. That is going to be bad for his chances to win. The Monegasque drops to P5, behind Hamilton, Albon, Vettel and Bottas.

Lap 45:
Albon pits from second. He’s onto the hards, 1.9 second stop - lightning fast. He exits in P5 behind Hamilton, Vettel, Bottas and Leclerc. Leclerc in P4 is told he will be fighting with leader Hamilton at the end.

Lap 46:
Hamilton leads Vettel by 3.1 seconds and told Ricciardo is still finding time on the hards (even though he started on them). Leclerc sets the fastest lap, a 1:19.527.

Lap 47:
Top-11 are all on hards. 13.5-seconds covers top four.

Lap 48:
Ricciardo in P6 is the only one yet to stop. Replays showing Leclerc sliding on his tyres into opening complex. Hamilton leads Vettel by 2.3 seconds.

Lap 49:
It’s Hamilton, Vettel, Bottas, Leclerc and Albon - who sets the fastest lap, a 1:19.325. Ricciardo still yet to stop, with the hards forecasted to do 50 laps.

Lap 50:
Hamilton leads Vettel by 2.4 seconds. The pair doing similar times on that last tour.

Lap 51:
Leclerc in P4 doing a personal best, into the low 1:19s. Ricciardo pits from P6, 2.3 second stop - onto the mediums. He exits in P8. Norris retires.

Lap 52:
Hamilton leads Vettel by 2.6 seconds. Bottas on the tail of Vettel, 1.1 seconds the gap.

Lap 53:
Will we see Hamilton stop again? Or will he try and maintain those hard tyres and go to the end?

Lap 54:
Leclerc in P4 sets the fastest lap, a 1:19.232. He’s 5.1 seconds behind Bottas now.

Lap 55:
Hamilton leads Vettel by 2.5 seconds. Grosjean goes onto the grass at Turn 2. Bottas in P3 is chasing down Vettel, less than a second between them.

Lap 56:
Leclerc in P4 is chasing down Bottas - 3.1 seconds the gap. Bottas though is chasing his teammate.

Lap 57:
Bottas all over Vettel, but the Ferrari has the straight-line speed down the straights.

Lap 58:
Bottas told his brakes are getting hot under the slipstream, so break it to keep temps under control. Only the top-nine are on the lead lap.

Lap 59:
Leclerc is now on the back of Bottas - 1.6 seconds the gap. He misses his braking point into Turn 4, locking up his left front. Verstappen is in P6.

Lap 60:
Hamilton leads this race, 2.8 seconds ahead of Vettel. And the German has Bottas behind. Raikkonen told to box and retire, and he does. Ricciardo in P8 is chasing down Perez.

Lap 61:
Hamilton leads Vettel by 2.6 seconds. The top-three of Hamilton, Vettel and Bottas all doing personal best laps. Ricciardo goes for the move on Perez into Turn 1, but goes wide at Turn 1 - off the track… and the Mexican retains the place.

Lap 62:
Hamilton leads Vettel by 2.3 seconds - and the leader has been told he has all the power he needs.

Lap 63:
Hamilton leads Vettel by 2-seconds. Bottas is 1.4 seconds behind the Ferrari in P3. Hamilton told he has max power overtake available.

Lap 64:
Six seconds covers the top-four.

Lap 65:
Hamilton 2.2 seconds ahead of Vettel - he’s managing the gap now.

Lap 66:
Hamilton sets the personal best lap, including the fastest second sector. He’s 2.2 seconds ahead of Vettel.

Lap 67:
Hamilton leads Vettel by 2.3 seconds - the top-three all doing personal bests again. All doing 1:19.4s.

Lap 68:
Hamilton leads Vettel by 2.2 seconds. Perez in on course to equal his best Mexico finish, with P7, but Ricciardo behind wants to squash that.

Lap 69:
Hamilton looks comfortable in the lead.

Lap 70:
Albon in P5 is 48 seconds ahead of his teammate Verstappen. Hamilton is 1.8 seconds ahead of Vettel.

Lap 71 - FINAL LAP:
Hamilton wins his second Mexico Grand Prix - and takes his 100th podium for Mercedes, the second driver to do that for a single constructor after Michael Schumacher - and is now the longest-serving Mercedes driver after Nico Rosberg. The title charge heads to America, with Hamilton 74 points ahead of his teammate Bottas - needing 78. Hulkenberg has crashed with Kvyat at the final corner, with the stewards looking at the incident. Kvyat getting a 10-second time penalty, elevating the Hulk to 10th.

Pos No Driver Car Laps Time/Retired PTS
1 44 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 71 1:36:48.904 25
2 5 Sebastian Vettel Ferrari 71 +1.766s 18
3 77 Valtteri Bottas Mercedes 71 +3.553s 15
4 16 Charles Leclerc Ferrari 71 +6.368s 13
5 23 Alexander Albon Red Bull Racing Honda 71 +21.399s 10
6 33 Max Verstappen Red Bull Racing Honda 71 +68.807s 8
7 11 Sergio Perez Racing Point BWT Mercedes 71 +73.819s 6
8 3 Daniel Ricciardo Renault 71 +74.924s 4
9 10 Pierre Gasly Scuderia Toro Rosso Honda 70 +1 lap 2
10 27 Nico Hulkenberg Renault 70 +1 lap 1
11 26 Daniil Kvyat Scuderia Toro Rosso Honda 70 +1 lap 0
12 18 Lance Stroll Racing Point BWT Mercedes 70 +1 lap 0
13 55 Carlos Sainz McLaren Renault 70 +1 lap 0
14 99 Antonio Giovinazzi Alfa Romeo Racing Ferrari 70 +1 lap 0
15 20 Kevin Magnussen Haas Ferrari 69 +2 laps 0
16 63 George Russell Williams Mercedes 69 +2 laps 0
17 8 Romain Grosjean Haas Ferrari 69 +2 laps 0
18 88 Robert Kubica Williams Mercedes 69 +2 laps 0
NC 7 Kimi Räikkönen Alfa Romeo Racing Ferrari 58 DNF 0
NC 4 Lando Norris McLaren Renault 48 DNF 0