Lewis Hamilton has beaten Sebastian Vettel to take victory in Mexican Grand Prix and edged ever closer to his sixth world title. The Mercedes driver pulled off a lengthy stint to finish over a second and a half over the Ferrari but failed to score the fourteen points he needed to beat teammate Valtteri Bottas.
Hamilton took victory in a strategically interesting race between Mercedes and Ferrari, where the German team took the gamble of a one-stop while Ferrari failed to gain back the lead after switching to a two-stop strategy. This forced Charles Leclerc to lose position on the track.
Vettel was left unable to attack Hamilton because of the teams strategy when they lost control of the race early on after running wide under braking for the Turn 4 left-hander and slowing right down through the tight right-hand turn that followed.
The German looked like the favourite midway through, but the team’s strategy of a two-stop race proved to make it difficult to catch Mercedes. Hamilton’s skill in managing tyres from lap twenty-three was the key to his win.
The champion-elect was convinced both Vettel and Bottas, who pitted one lap earlier than the Ferrari, could catch him with fresh rubber. However, he was able to keep his tyres performing until the finish.
Hamilton is almost certain to wrap his sixth world title up in Austin next Sunday if he finishes eighth or higher.
Hamilton said, “We came here thinking we were on the back foot, knowing it was a difficult race for us but we pulled through. I had quite a bit of damage on my car so the race was quite a bit of a struggle. I kept my head down and it seemed like a long second stint. But I’m so grateful for today.”
Vettel admitted Ferrari could have been a “bit sharper” when it came to strategy. They ultimately failed once again to capitalise on their front-row lockout. Leclerc twice pitted from the lead, but couldn’t trouble the top three despite running on fresh tyres.
Behind, though, Hamilton had already suffered an early setback as Max Verstappen challenged him on the inside into the first corner. The Englishman’s oversteer moment at Turn Two and Three saw him go onto the grass and lose position to Verstappen, McLaren’s Carlos Sainz and Alex Albon.
Sainz got passed the Mercedes on lap four and remained in fourth for the remainder of his stint, he ran long but ultimately had to settle for thirteenth after switching to a two-stop strategy. Hamilton hung on despite the major tyre offset meant the five-time world champion was fearful he would not be able to defend once Vettel pitted.
However, by the time Leclerc and Albon had made their second stops and left Hamilton leading the race from Vettel, Hamilton kept his pursuer more than two seconds behind for the next 20 laps.
Verstappen’s incident caps a hugely frustrating twenty-four hours, after losing pole position yesterday with a penalty, but his sixty-five lap stint was very good.
Sergio Perez held off Daniel Ricciardo’s late charge to take seventh at his home Grand Prix. The two Toro Rosso’s rounded out the top ten with Daniil Kvyat ninth and Pierre Gasly tenth. Ricciardo’s teammate Nico Hulkenberg was eleventh.
However late contact between Kvyat and Hulkenberg saw the stewards award him a ten-second penalty. The Toro Rosso pushed the German into the wall and saw him break his rear wing.
McLaren’s race became an utter disaster, the British team looked on course for another best of the rest finish, but Carlos Sainz hopes faded with a two-stop strategy which left him thirteenth. Lando Norris was forced to retire after a tyre failed to attach properly.
Antonio Giovinazzi was fourteenth ahead of the Haas’s and William’s, Kevin Magnussen, George Russell, Romain Grosjean and Robert Kubica.
- Mexican GP – Qualifying Results
- MEXICAN GP – Max Verstappen stripped of pole after Valtteri Bottas crashes in closing moments of Q3
- MEXICAN GP – Sebastian Vettel tops second practice going a tenth faster than Max Verstappen
- MEXICAN GP – Lewis Hamilton sets the pace in FP1, going a tenth faster than Charles Leclerc
- Prixview – Mexican Grand Prix