Mexican GP: Verstappen ties Prost, AlphaTauri show brilliant pace

Max Verstappen wins the Mexican GP for the fifth time in six years, dominating the race and equalling Alain Prost for F1 victories. Lewis Hamilton and Charles Leclerc, both with strong drives, rounded out the podium. There were also excellent performances from Alpha Tauri and McLaren.

Sainz, Norris, Russell, Ricciardo, Piastri, Albon and Ocon rounded out the top 10. Lewis Hamilton set the fastest lap on the last lap, crucial for the team standings. Despite a great qualifying, Ferrari didn’t gain any points on Mercedes in the standings.

Mexican GP: Ferrari unlucky and not perfect. Great comeback by Norris from the back

The most unexpected news of the weekend was the all-Ferrari front row secured on Saturday. In Q3, the SF-23 found the perfect operating window to make the tyres work, but in Mexico, Pole Position isn’t always an advantage.

In 2021, Mercedes achieved the same result on Saturday, only to see Verstappen (who started third, like today) first at the end of the straight. Daniel Ricciardo’s Qualifying was also surprising, starting on the second row ahead of Perez, while teammate Yuki Tsunoda started from the back – due to an engine penalty. Lance Stroll started from the pit lane for the second consecutive weekend after parc ferme changes.

The start saw Max Verstappen jump from third to second place – as he did two years ago against the Mercedes. After the first lap, there was little doubt about the winner of the race, while Sergio Perez’s race ended in turn one after contact with Charles Leclerc.

Ferrari’s duo found themselves in second and third position after the first lap. On lap 19, Max Verstappen stopped early for the hards. In the meantime, Lewis Hamilton, who overtook Daniel Ricciardo after a few laps – struggled slightly with the W14’s limited top speed.

In the early stages, the biggest concern (especially for those in dirty air) was the management of engine temperatures. This is due to the very thin air and the very high temperatures seen at the Mexican GP every year.

On lap 25, Lewis Hamilton and Mercedes chose to get ahead of Ferrari, undercutting Carlos Sainz and forcing Ferrari to adopt a different strategy.

The only ones who did not stop at this stage, among the front-runners, were the two Ferrari cars and Daniel Ricciardo, perhaps looking for a safer strategy.

It was a very positive race for the AlphaTauri duo in terms of pace. The AT04 always showed a good level of aerodynamic downforce but with too much drag, which pays less here than in the other stages. 

The two Ferraris finally pitted on laps 31 and 32, ensuring they had a good chance of making a single stop. On lap 33, a major accident for Kevin Magnussen (due to a rear suspension failure) caused a red flag that threw a spanner in the works.

In the Safety Car, period Verstappen carried out the second stop to get back on par with Leclerc – while behind Yuki Tsunoda benefited hugely. The timing was poor for the two Ferrari drivers, although Charles Leclerc was able to repair the damaged front wing on the first lap. 

At the restart, Lewis Hamilton put on the yellow tyre, used for four laps, to attempt to attack Leclerc and Verstappen at the start. Russell and the other two McLarens also chose the C4 compound.

Hamilton was unable to overtake either of the two on the front row, but the softer compound gave the Englishman a great lead in the first laps of the restart; after a few laps, Hamilton took second position from the Monegasque with the help of the DRS. Carlos Sainz managed better to contain George Russell’s attacks, again with Daniel Ricciardo behind the Englishman in a great weekend for the Faenza team.

Fernando Alonso’s Mexican GP ended on lap 47, at the end of an extremely difficult race for the Aston Martin Spaniard. 

Yuki Tsunoda blundered in an attempt to overtake Oscar Piastri for P7, hitting the Australian’s McLaren MCL60 and spinning out. The Maranello team’s strategy was not optimal, ‘condemning’ Leclerc to third position after an excellent start to the race. 

In the final stages of the race, Lando Norris’ comeback was brilliant. McLaren ensured Piastri let the British driver pass, before making a series of brilliant moves on Ricciardo and Russell.

Author: Andrea Vergani

Translation: Jaden Diaz-Ndisang