The return of the Mexican Grand Prix to the Formula 1 calendar produced a bumper crowd, a tense battle for the race win between the two Mercedes’ and more than just a little bit of drama for the field’s other World Championship-winning drivers.
Who were the winners and losers in Sunday’s 71-lap race?
Nico Rosberg emerged victorious when in counted, finally converting his fourth pole position in a row into a race win with a controlled performance. He held the lead from the start and kept his head down with consistent pace, just doing enough to keep teammate Lewis Hamilton from challenging him. The result was vitally important in his quest to cement second place in the Drivers’ Championship standings.
Valtteri Bottas had a strong race to claim the final podium position, bouncing back from a disastrous showing the weekend before at Austin. He was taken out of a podium finish in Russia by Ferrari’s Kimi Räikkönen, but this time it was the Finn who emerged with the upper hand in the Finns’ latest on-track clash.
Red Bull Racing duo Daniil Kvyat and Daniel Ricciardo both had strong races to finish fourth and fifth respectively, taking a solid haul of point away from a race where few expected the Renault-powered cars to be competitive. Ricciardo survived opening-lap contact with Sebastian Vettel, but managed to avoid any major damage or cut tyres this time around. The same could not be said for his former teammate…
Force India was another team to get both of its cars in the points, with Nico Hülkenberg ending a run of bad luck to finish in seventh place ahead of teammate and crowd favourite Sergio Pérez. The Mexican driver gave another demonstration in tyre preservation, driving more than 50 laps in his second stint – he was the only top-ten finisher to complete the race with just one pit stop.
It would be hard not to start with Ferrari, which chalked up its first double-DNF since the 2006 Australian Grand Prix after an ill-disciplined race by both drivers.
Sebastian Vettel had a race to forget. Qualifying third-fastest was as good as his weekend got; he tangled with Daniel Ricciardo on the opening lap and had to pit with a puncture. Trying to recover through the field, he had an uncharacteristic spin at the Esses and later locked up and sailed off the track trying to pass Pastor Maldonado. Another wild moment at the Esses saw him slide into the barriers and retirement, which he later confirmed to be entirely his own fault.
Teammate Kimi Räikkönen had his second collision with Valtteri Bottas in three races, but this time it was the former Champion who lost out. In a mirror image of the pair’s move at the Russian Grand Prix, this time it was Räikkönen who came off worse and had to retire with broken rear suspension. The Stewards ruled it a racing accident and apportioned no blame.
Fernando Alonso saw his race come to an end on the opening lap, retiring for the eighth time this season. His McLaren-Honda developed a terminal MGU-H issue on its journey to the starting grid, but Alonso elected to take the start as a gesture of thanks to the local fans who had turned up to support him. Teammate Jenson Button managed to at least get to the chequered flag, but was well down on straight-line speed in another weekend to forget for the Woking team.
Image via Mercedes AMG Petronas F1 Team