Lewis Hamilton cruised home to win the Mexican Grand Prix, but Nico Rosberg finished second once again to enhance his title hopes.
As it has been so often this season, the start was going to be crucial. The top 3 got off to a similar start to each other however the action would commence at turn 1. Hamilton locked up and went straight on, keeping first. Rosberg, crucially, held off Verstappen for second. The safety car was then deployed after contact between Gutierrez, Ericsson and Wehrlein ended with the Manor driver out of the race.
Ricciardo, starting on the super-softs with the Mercedes on the softs, came straight into the pits for the medium tyre. Hamilton, meanwhile, quickly opened a gap on his teammate. Verstappen, on the super-softs, started to struggle with tyre wear and came into the pits on lap 12 for the medium tyre. Vettel was getting frustrated stuck behind Massa, him and Raikkonen starting on the softs.
Lower down the order, Sainz was given a 5 second penalty for forcing another driver off.
Hamilton then came in for his one and only pit stop, putting the medium tyre on. Rosberg and Raikkonen came in shortly after, not before Rosberg managed to gap to both Red Bull’s and came out ahead. Out front, Vettel was setting a strong pace and managed to hold onto his soft tyres until lap 33 when he came in for the mediums, exiting in P6.
The race then died down slightly at the front, with the gap between Rosberg and Verstappen ranging between 1.1 and 1.5 seconds. This was until the lap 40 mark, when the leaders hit backmarkers. The group of 8 were all battling with each other, making it hard for Hamilton to pass. They were more of a problem for Rosberg, however. Traffic allowed Verstappen to close to within 0.5 seconds and then try and make a pass. He went down the inside of turn 4 however locked up and went off the track, losing 3 seconds.
At the back, the Haas team was really struggling, with Gutierrez and Grosjean P19 and P20 respectively.
Ricciardo entered the pits with 20 laps to go to move onto the quicker soft tyre. He came out in P6 but made short work of Hulkenburg and then focused on catching Vettel. Vettel, on 20 lap younger tyres, was closing in on Verstappen by around 0.6 per lap. Ricciardo was gaining 1 second on the Ferrari per lap, setting the fastest lap of the race during this phase.
Raikkonen had pit before this for mediums, and made contact with Hulkenburg as he went past, causing the Force India to spin. The German used his experience, however, to spin the car around and avoid further contact.
With four laps to go, the fireworks started to go off. Vettel was all over Verstappen and Ricciardo was closing in. Max locked up under pressure and cut across turn 1, keeping the position while being put under investigation. Vettel was fuming over team radio and was not concentrating on Ricciardo. Daniel went down the inside of Vettel but the Ferrari man squeezed him under braking, causing contact and ending Ricciardo’s chances of a podium. Vettel was put under investigation for this.
A dominant Lewis Hamilton won again, closing the gap to Rosberg to 19 points with 2 rounds left. Rosberg was solid if not spectacular and held off Verstappen’s one opportunity to pass him.
Verstappen crossed the line in P3, ahead of Vettel and Ricciardo. Sebastian made his thoughts clear to the world, telling Charlie Whiting (race director) to ‘**** off’. However, he may have been praising him minutes later, as Verstappen was given a 5 second penalty for going off the track to keep the position. This demoted the Dutchman to P5, behind his teammate.
This occurred while Verstappen was in the podium room. To his disbelief, Max had to exit the podium room to make way for a delighted Vettel, who charged towards the podium. However, the drama did not end there, as Vettel was given a 10 second penalty for his move on Ricciardo. This moved him down to P5, behind both Red Bull’s.
Further down the order, Hulkenburg followed Raikkonen home for P6 and P7, with Massa holding off Perez for P9 with his teammate Bottas finishing P8. Ericsson drove a great race for P11, the two McLarens finishing behind him in 12th and 13th respectively, Button edging out his teammate. Kvyat, given a 5 second penalty, had a poor race and finished 18th. He was ahead of a disappointing Haas team, finish P19 and P20. Ocon rounded out the order for Manor, Wehrlein the only causality from the race.
For the championship, this means that Nico Rosberg can win the championship with a win in Brazil. He leads teammate Hamilton by 19 points. In the constructors battle, Force India are 9 points ahead of Williams with 2 races to go, with that battle sure to go to the final race.
In 2 weeks time, we could see a new world champion crowned.
- Wehrlein (DNF)
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