Back-to-back victories for Lewis Hamilton kept the Formula 1 World Championship fight alive, for another weekend at least. Sunday’s Mexican Grand Prix was not without a bit of drama and there was much talk after the race about the consistency – or lack of – from the FIA stewards.
So who were the winners and losers at the Autódromo Hermanos Rodríguez?
Lewis Hamilton took back-to-back wins when it mattered, notching up his 51st Grand Prix victory to draw level with Alain Prost. It was his thirtieth victory from pole position and his first on Mexican soil. That being said, he was lucky to curiously avoid any inspection from the stewards after locking up and cutting the first corner after the start of the race.
By both finishing inside the top-ten, the Force India duo of Nico Hülkenberg and local hero Sergio Pérez helped the team extend its advantage over Williams by one point in their tight fight for fourth in the Constructors’ Championship. While the slipper Williams’ were expected to be the stronger Mercedes customer team in Mexico, it was Force India who came out on top. This was despite a late race spin by Hülkenberg that dropped him to sixth place, and ninth-placed Pérez being trapped behind Massa for almost the entire race.
He’s been rather maligned this year, but Marcus Ericsson oh so nearly got Sauber’s first points today. The Swede was the innocent victim of contact from Pascal Wehrlein’s Manor on the opening lap and had to pit for a new front wing. Undaunted, he ran non-stop for another 70 laps until the chequered flag, steadily working his way up the order in what he described as the best race of his career.
Max Verstappen will walk away from this weekend frustrated to have been denied a podium finish by the FIA Stewards after crossing the line in third place. The Dutch teenager was as feisty as ever, clashing with Rosberg after the start before trying a tyre-smoking lunge on the Mercedes in a thrilling fight for second place at Turn 4. In the end, fading tyres got the better of him, locking up at Turn 1 with an error that ultimately saw him handed a five-second post-race time penalty.
Verstappen’s nemesis Sebastian Vettel yo-yo’d between the darling of the crowd to Mexico’s villain. Running an alternate pit strategy that helped him split the Red Bulls, he looked set to finish on the podium on merit as Verstappen’s tyres began to fade in the final laps, but instead found himself under pressure from fifth-placed Ricciardo. He committed the cardinal sin of squeezing the Australian, earning himself a penalty that stripped him of the podium trophy. He could yet get in trouble from the FIA for his radio outburst as well…
Carlos Sainz’s top-ten qualifying result was the highlight of Toro Rosso’s weekend, which went downhill on Sunday when both the Spaniard and his teammate Daniil Kvyat were handed five-second time penalties for driving infringements. After being found guilty of forcing his countryman Fernando Alonso off the circuit on Lap 1, Sainz struggled with a gearbox shift problem and finished a lowly sixteenth. The recently re-signed Kvyat ran a two-stop strategy that was never going to work from so far down on the grid and finished 18th.
Alonso had a frustrating race and struggled with the McLaren Honda’s lack of straight-line speed. The two-time champion had a slow pit stop, later switching to a two-stop plan in a bid to exploit fresher tyres. It didn’t work and he finished thirteenth, one spot behind teammate Jenson Button.
The under-pressure Esteban Gutiérrez dented his slim chances of being retained by the Haas F1 Team by tagging Pascal Wehrlein’s Manor into retirement on the opening lap. Wehrlein was the sole retiree of the race, while Gutiérrez and teammate Romain Grosjean struggled at the back of the field when the Haas’ brake issues reared their head once again.
Image via Red Bull Content Pool