Mexico GP victory for Lewis Hamilton.
The Autodromo Hermanos Rodriquez, the 23rd different circuit Hamilton has won at after cruising in Mexico for victory. But as Hamilton lapped his way through the field, Vettel was behind Verstappen despite the Red Bull cutting a corner. Much to the German’s frustration, but a post-race pen handed the podium position to the Ferrari at first. With it later snatched away when Sebastian received a penalty of his own.
Before the race began, Romain Grosjean joined Jolyon Palmer in being forced to start the 2016 Mexico Grand Prix from the pit lane. For while Jolyon had his chassis changed during qualifying and was unable to compete, Romain was forced to change his floor ahead of the race. With his new floor carrying a different specification and an enforced pit lane start.
The start of the race was also marked with a headwind down the pit straight, aiding the slipstreamers as the cars ahead punch through the air.
Off the line, it first appeared that the car ahead of all would be Nico Rosberg. As the championship leader got a good initial start and pulled alongside his pole-sitting team-mate.
But as Rosberg pulled alongside, Hamilton pulled away. Launching off towards the first corner, where he would lock up and cut across the grass to retain the lead of the race.
Rosberg, too, was forced to cut across the grass through the opening corners. Just not as severely as Lewis. With Nico edged out by Verstappen as the two made wheel on wheel contact. But the investigation that followed deemed no action was needed.
No action was also taken on Esteban Gutierrez. As the Mexican enjoying his first home Grand Prix tagged the rear of Pascal Wehrlein following a great start – sending the German into a spin that tangled him with Marcus Ericsson.
Taking the Manor out of the race and leaving the Sauber with front wing damage. While also bringing out a VSC then full safety car for the Manor to be cleared.
Action was taken on Carlos Sainz, however, with the Spaniard handed a 5 second time penalty for forcing Alonso off the track out of turn three. Leaving the McLaren on the grass and Alonso forced to make a big save to prevent putting it in the barrier.
Having started the race on the supersoft tyres, Red Bull took the safety car as their cue to pit Ricciardo. With the Australian’s poor start taking away their advantage of starting on the softest compound and leaving him now running in 16th place.
Vettel meanwhile reported a puncture. Yet he stayed out with his tyre not showing any damage and was able to complete a 33-lap stint on his soft compound tyres. A run that saw Sebastian move fourth on the list of laps lead in Formula One, moving ahead of Alain Prost.
Come the restart and clean away pulled Hamilton. Edging further and further away from Rosberg as he ran cleanly through the opening corners.
Rosberg, meanwhile, was kept in touch by Verstappen. But Max was unable to make a move on the German before his supersofts began to fade away and he came into the pits.
When Verstappen made his stop, he returned to the track running in 11th place – behind Ricciardo and Alonso. After Daniel made his way through the field on the durable medium tyres. Taking Button for 13th into turn one with a late lunge on the brakes, then swiftly doing the same on Kevin Magnussen.
Hamilton, too, soon came into the pits like Verstappen. But when the Briton emerged back onto the long main straight he had fallen to just fourth place – behind Rosberg and the Ferrari’s. With Vettel finally clear of the “stupid” Felipe Massa, who Vettel felt slowed before bringing his Williams into the pits.
Unlike Hamilton and Verstappen, though, Rosberg stayed out.
Rosberg may have fended off the early attack from Verstappen to ensure he retained second place following their opening lap scrap. But as Nico began to lap in the same region as the stopped Red Bull’s, an undercut was on the cards with Red Bull already feeling confident they had the jump on the Mercedes.
But when Rosberg made his stop, the Red Bulls could not capitalise. With both Ricciardo and Verstappen held up by homeboy Perez who was yet to pit. And with Ricciardo on older tyres, he was coming under increasing pressure from Verstappen. A man who he moved aside for like Massa did for Bottas as Perez closed in on the Williams duo not long after following his eventual stop.
Perez’s change of tyres may have come later than the Mexican wished for. But with fresh tyres compared to Force India’s Constructors’ Championship rivals, Sergio was able to easily slipstream with DRS past Massa into turn one with a late flick to the right. But Perez locking up as he made his way by allowed the Brazilian back ahead.
And back ahead remained Massa for some time before Perez made his next move.
But Perez’s next move still failed to see the Mexican delight his home crowd as Felipe kept his nose cleanly ahead and would remain just ahead for the rest of the race. Unlike Ocon could when Gutierrez made his way through, with the two making slight contact and leaving debris on the track for Verstappen to run through.
Vettel, meanwhile, was looking for his one stop race. Completing his long stint on softs to come out behind Raikkonen while overcutting Hulkenberg. But as Seb took the early life out of his mediums, Raikkonen was called back into the pits to take on another set of mediums. Falling down the order to seventh and back behind Hulkenberg’s Force India.
All the while Rosberg was catching traffic down the road as Verstappen gained half a second on him. Picking up time as they negotiated traffic before making a move on the Mercedes.
Unfortunately for Verstappen, he would lock up and was unable to slow the car down as he slid through the corner. Losing out in his battle with Rosberg and forced to regroup with Vettel closing in on him from behind.
While Vettel ate the final seconds out of Verstappen’s lead, Raikkonen was fighting his own battle having fallen behind Hulkenberg with a late pit stop. But running around the outside of the Force India at turn four handed Kimi the position. Even if as the pair flicked left for turn five Hulkenberg fell into a spin and was forced to quickly pull away to avoid being hit by oncoming lapped traffic.
Then when Vettel latched onto the rear of Verstappen, Max locked up and sailed off through the turn one grass. Ensuring he retained the position, much to the annoyance of Vettel who thought he should be handed the position.
But at first no investigation was coming and Max refused to pull out of his way, in fact backing the Ferrari into the path of Ricciardo. Allowing his team-mate to make a lunge into turn four as Vettel’s temper began to get the better of him.
Yet while Vettel fumed and swore over team radio, Ricciardo could not get through. Locking up himself and badly flat-spotting his tyres as the two rubbed tyres and bodywork. With Ricciardo feeling Vettel made a defensive move after he had already begun to brake.
Verstappen himself felt the same as Ricciardo and has regularly been moaned at by drivers for antics under braking such as this allow no contact had ever been made. Verstappen and Red Bull also believed he done nothing wrong in cutting across the grass like Rosberg did at the start of the race when he fought with Max.
The frustrated Vettel remained in front of Ricciardo, though. Hunting down Verstappen right until the flag as official confirmation came that Verstappen’s corner cutting would be investigated after the race.
Vettel, however, still wanted the position on track and needing cooling down by the team as they informed him of the incoming investigation. But Vettel had a message for Formula One Race director himself. Screaming: “Here’s a message for Charlie: ‘F*** off! Honestly F*** OFF!” Although Sebastian did later go to Charlie to personally apologise.
With the limited time left before the chequered flag, Vettel was unable to make another move on Verstappen as Ricciardo fell back with heavy flat spotted tyres. Vettel, however, would take the podium position away from Max as he was handed a five-second penalty to demote him to fifth.
Vettel even took to the podium after running to the stadium from the pit lane. With Max informed in the cool down room of his penalty and surprisedly forced to leave the room before Sebastian arrived.
But that was not the end of the situation, with Vettel handed a 10-second penalty hours after the race ended. Seeing the German stripped of third place and demoted to fifth, behind the Red Bulls. With Daniel Ricciardo then made the recipient of the third place trophy.
But while the race ended with Vettel fuming, Jolyon Palmer’s race ended in 14th place despite starting the race from the pit lane having sat out qualifying as Renault changed his chassis. Palmer’s race even included just a single pit stop, which occurred at the end of the opening lap.
Marcus Ericsson, too, completed a 69-lap stint on a single set of medium tyres following his first lap collision with Wehrlein. With the Sauber driver going on to come home in 11th place, missing out on his first point-scoring finish of the year.
Hamilton also claimed his first victory in Mexico as he crossed the line 8.354 seconds ahead of Rosberg. Making the Autodromo Hermanos Rodriquez the 23rd circuit he has won at and reducing Nico’s championship lead to 19-points.
|3||Daniel Ricciardo||Red Bull||20.858||15|
|4||Max Verstappen||Red Bull||21.323||12|
|7||Nico Hulkenberg||Force India||58.891||6|
|10||Sergio Perez||Force India||1’16.798||1|
|11||Marcus Ericsson||Sauber||1 lap|
|12||Jenson Button||McLaren||1 lap|
|13||Fernando Alonso||McLaren||1 lap|
|14||Jolyon Palmer||Renault||1 lap|
|15||Felipe Nasr||Sauber||1 lap|
|16||Carlos Sainz Jr.||Toro Rosso||1 lap|
|17||Kevin Magnussen||Renault||1 lap|
|18||Daniil Kvyat||Toro Rosso||1 lap|
|19||Esteban Gutierrez||Haas||1 lap|
|20||Romain Grosjean||Haas||1 lap|
|21||Esteban Ocon||Manor||2 laps|