As the Mexican Grand Prix got ready to start, the weather was dry and things were looking good for Mercedes who owned the front row with Lewis Hamilton on pole followed by his teammate Nico Rosberg. Nico nearly had two Red Bulls in front of him but managed to snatch 2nd on his last lap in qualifying.
The big question was regarding turn 1 and the starts for each Mercedes driver as well as the Red Bull’s super soft tire compounds. Could the Red Bulls make the best use of early grip and spoil the Mercedes strategy? If they were able to make that work, it could spell disaster for either Lewis or Nico who have only 26 points separating them.
The start was a ragged affair with Lewis Hamilton straight-lining the first turn and Max Verstappen punting Nico Rosberg into the grass. NBC’s Leigh Diffey said that Nico gained an advantage but the stewards reviewed and disagreed.
Lewis Hamilton claimed his 51st victory equaling Alain Prost’s total wins and keep his championship hopes alive until the next race with just 19 points between he and Nico Rosberg. Nico did what he had to do which is finishing second and Max Verstappen who finished third on the track but a penalty of 5-seconds was applied meaning that he technically finished behind Vettel and Daniel Ricciardo for 5th.
A big win for Lewis Hamilton who did what he had to do and that’s after cooking turn 1 but his teammate wasn’t able to capitalize on the mistake as he was in the process of being mugged in turn 1 by Red Bull’s Max Verstappen. It was also good news for Lewis that he wasn’t pushing and still pulling away so that could bode well for his engine and mechanical concerns in the last two races.
A big win for Ferrari and Sebastian Vettel who claimed 3rd after a 5-second penalty was assessed on Max Verstappen removing him from the podium with immediate effect. The radio communications from Vettel clearly show the pressure he and this team are under and they deserved the result given Vettel’s drive and the team’s strategy.
A win for Nico Rosberg who launched in to one of the seemingly 50 languages the guy speaks to amp up the local crowd…I wasn’t even aware that he spoke Spanish. Nico said Lewis just did a much better job all weekend and deserved the win regardless of the turn 1 shortcut.
A win for Force India’s Nico Hulkenberg who drove a good race and had a moment with Kimi Raikkonen for 6th but on older tires, his spin was somewhat understandable. He had time in hand and came home in 7th which goes a long way in the constructor’s championship to hold 4th over Williams F1.
To be fair, even though Hulkenberg managed to stay ahead of the Williams duo of Felipe Massa and Valtteri Bottas, the pair were able to stay ahead of Sergio Perez’s Force India and helped in their points haul for 4th in the constructor’s championship.
Also, a win for Marcus Ericsson for nearly nipping Sauber’s first point by finishing 11th just ahead of both the McLaren’s of Fernando Alonso and Jenson Button. Marcus had a broken wing and great tire management to make a one-stopper work and nearly take a point.
A fail for both Esteban Gutierrez and Sergio Perez for having a difficult day and while Perez claimed 10th and a point, he was well behind his much faster teammate at his home grand prix. Esteban and his teammate struggled all weekend and he finished just ahead of his teammate, Romain Grosjean, in 19th.
A fail for Sebastian Vettel’s profanity-laced tirade and while you can certainly understand his frustration, I think it’s an even more tangible example of the immense pressure the entire team is being put under to win but regardless, the race director, Charlie Whiting, won’t take it lightly having been told to Eff off. Regardless, I am amused at the moral purity the press has immediately gained when they otherwise are chuckling about Kimi Raikkonen’s blue language or Daniil Kvyat’s blue tirades. Johnny Herbert had it right, this is emotion and the last time I checked, fans said that’s what they want to see but now they’ve become paragons of virtue and are outraged at the emotion, adrenaline-amped radio chatter. Word is that Jean Todt wasn’t amused and fair enough as it’s supposed to be family-friendly broadcasts. Someone tell Kimi, would you? Perhaps Ferrari need some sensitivity language training programs featuring squeezy balls and deep breathing exercises? Good on Maurizio for shutting the German down over the radio, good work sir.
It’s not really a fail but close enough as Jolyon Palmer looked competitive but the team’s strategy of leaving him out on tires that should have retired in Austin was a bad call as he was a sitting duck and only managed 14th.
I’m not entirely sure if Carlos Sainz didn’t know that Fernando Alonso was next to him or not but he gained a 5-second penalty for basically running Fernando off the road.
The stewards saw the Max Verstappen/Nico Rosberg incident at turn one the way I saw it and handed out no penalty but I’m unclear on how folks feel that being clouted by Max gave Nico an advantage? Is it ever an advantage by being hit and potentially risking taking you out of the race and losing the championship? Could you not argue that Nico may have taken the lead had he not been clouted as Lewis decided to straight-line the first turn? Admittedly Lewis receive his own punishment by going through the grass but the speed he lost wasn’t a bad deal because his teammate was being shoved off track. Fact is, Nico had nowhere to go. He was at track limit and Max didn’t give room. At least that’s how I saw it.
A WTH for Max Verstappen for not giving the position to Vettel because he incurred a penalty and lost not only the position to Sebastian but a position to his teammate Ricciardo. The team even instructed him to cede the position but he chose not to. It’s a roll of the dice and they didn’t land Max’s way.
Daniel Ricciardo felt that Seb moved under braking and this is the Pandora’s box I wrote an editorial about and got castigated for my opinion on it as a couch-based junior league idiot. Well, I said I was all for safety but not for more sporting regulations that cannot be consistently applied due to the FIA’s current structure and context that fans at home won’t always know or see leading to mobocracy to be outraged once again. Here again, like Kvyat in Austin, we have Daniel crying foul in Mexico.
From Max and Daniel’s view, both Lewis and Nico gained advantage by leaving the track so both were vocal as to where the consistency was in the penalties called? Fact is, I don’t see Nico’s turn 1 incident as an advantage but I could see the argument of Lewis running straight through turn one which Max did as well. I think also it’s contextual and I can understand why a penalty didn’t apply to Lewis as it did for Max. I think there’s context here and while I think Nico may have made it a serious challenge in turn one had he not had Max on his leg and Lewis running wide, I also think Lewis didn’t gain much since Nico was preoccupied.
I don’t want to get a heap of hate mail but could Rachael over at Sky Sports F1 be a bit bigger of a s**t disturber? Good grief, the leading questions and implications are pretty harsh. Not really unpacking the race so much as always pulling at the threads of Seb, Nico or anyone but Lewis for that matter. Whew…it’s times like this that make me happy to be an American and watching multiple broadcasts for some parity.
|4||Daniel Ricciardo||Red Bull/Renault||71||20.858s|
|5||Max Verstappen||Red Bull/Renault||71||21.323s|
|7||Nico Hulkenberg||Force India/Mercedes||71||58.891s|
|10||Sergio Perez||Force India/Mercedes||71||1m16.798s|
|11||Marcus Ericsson||Sauber/Ferrari||70||1 Lap|
|12||Jenson Button||McLaren/Honda||70||1 Lap|
|13||Fernando Alonso||McLaren/Honda||70||1 Lap|
|14||Jolyon Palmer||Renault||70||1 Lap|
|15||Felipe Nasr||Sauber/Ferrari||70||1 Lap|
|16||Carlos Sainz||Toro Rosso/Ferrari||70||1 Lap|
|17||Kevin Magnussen||Renault||70||1 Lap|
|18||Daniil Kvyat||Toro Rosso/Ferrari||70||1 Lap|
|19||Esteban Gutierrez||Haas/Ferrari||70||1 Lap|
|20||Romain Grosjean||Haas/Ferrari||70||1 Lap|
|21||Esteban Ocon||Manor/Mercedes||69||2 Laps|