Red Bull's Max Verstappen secured a record 14th win of the
Formula 1 season by winning the Mexican Grand Prix on Sunday. World champion
Verstappen finished 15.186 seconds ahead of Lewis Hamilton's Mercedes while
Verstappen's Red Bull team-mate Sergio Perez finished third at home. It was the
second win in a week for Dutchman Verstappen, who also won the United States
Grand Prix in Austin, Texas.
Verstappen has broken the record previously held by Michael
Schumacher and Sebastian Vettel for most victories in a season. "It's been
an amazing year so far, we're enjoying it a lot and we'll try to get more
(wins)," said Verstappen.
Hamilton bemoaned his team's decision to opt for the semi
then hard tire field while Verstappen switched from the soft to the semi.
"I was close at the start but the Red Bulls were quick today and they
probably had the right tire strategy," Hamilton said.
Perez was very pleased with the sales people.
"Unfortunately it didn't work today, but it's good to get third here and
be on the podium," said Perez.
George Russell finished fourth for Mercedes but set the
fastest lap ahead of the Ferraris of Carlos Sainz and Charles Leclerc, both
unable to find the pace to affect the leading quartet. Daniel Ricciardo
finished seventh for McLaren, after a mid-race fight in which he was penalized
for second place, ahead of Alpine's Esteban Ocon, Lando Norris and second
McLaren and Alfa Romeo's Valtteri Bottas.
As the lights went out, Verstappen climbed from pole
position to a near perfect finish as, behind him, Hamilton fought his way past
Russell to take second place. To the delight of his fans, Perez passed Russell
to take third place.
After the first round, the Dutchman had a second lead of
1.39 which he slowly extended to 1.6 on lap 10 and 2.2 on lap 20 as the leaders
raced in the regular season, the race was not only Stroll's took the first pit
on lap 18. . Verstappen showed his soft tires were getting worse shortly before
Perez came in after 23 laps to switch from soft to medium, but a tight rear
wheel switch ended his stoppage and took five seconds.
He participated in the sixth. Two laps later, Verstappen was
in and out by 2.5 seconds, handing the lead to Hamilton, who was 5.5 seconds
ahead of Russell as the Dutchman slipped back into third place behind him.
Hamilton entered on lap 30 to switch to the hard tires and
joined third, with Russell leading the charge until lap 35, when he pitted for
the hard tyres. He returned fourth and the leaders returned as usual.
Tire crisis -
"This tire is not as good as a semi," Hamilton told team radio, prompting Mercedes to respond by suggesting it would last longer than a semi, as Red Bull took. However, Hamilton was struggling to catch him and impatient as he turned 9.5 seconds behind the winner and Perez, third in the press, just 1.9 seconds behind.By lap 40, the two Mercedes men were pitting each other for ineffectiveness from the hard tyres. Verstappen extended his lead to over 10 seconds on lap 50, but Hamilton hung on.
"Are we on the wrong tyre? Hamilton asked his
teammates. "No Lewis, we think we are on the right tire and it will go all
the way. No worries," replied his race engineer, Pete Bonnington. With six
points to go, Mercedes' strong gamble seemed to have failed when two-time
champion Fernando Alonso retired on the first lap of his Alpine.
It was a short break without any breaks, leaving Russell
frustrated and in need of a new rubber. "Stay," said Mercedes, only
conceding lap 70 to give them a chance for the fastest lap.
Red Bull has already won the constructors' championship.