Verstappen wins race, Hamilton title, in Mexico
Max Verstappen's aggressive move in turn 1 at the start of the Mexican GP led to Lewis Hamilton getting a flat tire and Sebastian Vettel's front wing flying through the air, which meant Verstappen had an easy run to victory in Mexico City, his third F1 win.
Vettel came back to finish 4th, a valiant effort after that crazy opening lap, but just not enough. Hamilton finished 9th which meant that Hamilton clinched his 4th F1 title, and third in a row in the Aldo Costa designed Mercedes.
"Mercedes have been incredible for the last five years and I'm so proud to be a part of it," said Hamilton.
"It doesn't feel real man. That's not the kind of race I want, but I never gave up, kept going to the end. I'm grateful for today and just want to lift it up to my family, my team, and to God."
Valtteri Bottas finished 2nd and Kimi Raikkonen took the final podium spot.
It all began well, with polesitter Vettel, Verstappen and Hamilton running side by side down to Turn 1 after the start. Vettel was on the inside and kept his pole advantage, but only just from Verstappen, as Bottas braked just enough on the inside to let Hamilton through from the outside line.
Going toward Turn 2, Verstappen drew alongside Vettel, taking the line for the upcoming left-hander, and they touched gently, the Ferrariâ€™s front wing against his right-rear tire, before the Red Bull man grabbed the initiative.
Hamilton, meanwhile, got a very clean run at the delayed Vettel and had snatched second by the exit to Turn 3, when the German brushed his right-rear tire, puncturing it.
As Hamilton crept pitward, Vettel rushed in for a new nose and a set of soft tires. Hamilton went for the same tire choice, both intent on trying to make it to the flag without stopping again.
Vettel quickly clawed his way to eighth in a healthy Ferrari, and took a set of ultrasofts after the breakage of Brendon Hartleyâ€™s Toro Rosso on the 31st lap and the resulting Virtual Safety Car triggered mass pit stops.
Hamilton, meanwhile, had been struggling in 19th place to pass Sauberâ€™s Pascal Wehrlein and the delayed Renault of Carlos Sainz. He took a set of supersofts in the same round of pit stops, and now the race came alive.
Even when those stops helped Raikkonen jump Ocon for third place (and Stroll Perez for fifth), Vettel had no realistic chance of the runner-up slot unless there were retirements ahead of him. He made it to fourth, but Raikkonen was 23.7s ahead so there was no way Ferrari could get their Finn to hand over the place.
On top of that, Hamilton climbed to an eventual ninth after a huge fight with Alonso, and with 333 points to Vettelâ€™s 280, the title war was finally over no matter what happens in Brazil and Abu Dhabi.
Behind Bottas and the Ferraris, Ocon drove beautifully for fifth ahead of the consistent Stroll, Perez who needed fresh ultrasofts close to the end, and Magnussen, who drove really well to fend off everything Alonso could throw at him, and held off Hamilton at the flag by 0.6s.
Alonso finished 10th ahead of Williamsâ€™ Felipe Massa, whoâ€™d had a bit of rough and tumble with Vettel in Turn 12 on the 12th lap, Stoffel Vandoorne in the second McLaren, Pierre Gaslyâ€™s surviving Toro Rosso, Wehrleinâ€™s Sauber and Romain Grosjeanâ€™s Haas.
It was a bad day for most of the Renault runners: Sainz flat-spotted a tire early on to prompt a pit stop and retired with handling issues; Nico Hulkenberg lost seventh place (having at one stage run fourth) with electrical problems; Brendon Hartleyâ€™s Toro Rosso succumbed to power loss; and Daniel Ricciardoâ€™s Red Bull ate another turbocharger. And Marcus Ericsson, whoâ€™d had a great run in ninth place early in the race in his Ferrari-powered Sauber, fell prey to cooling troubles to become the other retirement.
Valtteri Bottas (2nd): The right man won the title this year, Lewis absolutely deserves this! He's my team mate, so I know he's not only talented, but also a hard worker, and a really nice guy. So even though we're competing, I'm also happy for him - but I still want to beat him next year. The race today was pretty straightforward after the start. I saw in Turn 2 that Max and Sebastian were side-by-side, and one of them went a bit wide, so I knew Turn 3 was going to be a mess. So I decided to go inside and cut the corner and get a good exit. After that there was not much happening. Unfortunately, we couldn't challenge Max today, so I drove it home. We saw we didn't have the pace to win the race, so we have a lot of things to learn. But overall, it was not a bad day for us - I felt I got the most out of the car, it was good to be on the podium after such a long time, and of course Lewis won the title.
Lewis Hamilton (9th): To be honest, this fourth world title is not even registering right now. There is all this energy from the people around you, but it takes a while for it to really sink in. I am incredibly grateful when I think about everything that was going on this year and everything that had to be in place to produce this result. I didn't do this on my own, there are over a thousand people back in Brackley and Brixworth who have created this beast that has given me the opportunity to exploit my abilities. I have received such great support from around the world, and I want to thank all of you that believed in me. To do this on Mexican soil, to shine a positive light on a country that has been through such a difficult time over the past few months, makes this really special. It doesn't matter what happened in the race today. I carry 'Still I Rise' on the back of my helmet - it means when you get knocked down, you get back up again and keep pushing as hard as you can. I never gave up, and I kept pushing. Four is a great number - but I want number five now!
James Allison, Technical Director: We knew that the championship arithmetic favoured us going into this race. But that didn't mean that it was a comfortable afternoon after the melee of the first corner - either for us sitting on the pit wall with all the information at our fingertips but much more for Lewis who had the lonely task of picking his way back through the field from stone-cold last. In truth, as long as the front stayed reliable, this looked like Lewis was safe throughout, especially since Valtteri drove very capably, holding down a very assured second place. But you can't rely on that and so we were very keen to get Lewis up into 9th place and it was an amazing achievement for him to do that at this track which is so difficult to overtake at. It's a great feeling for us after sealing up the Constructors' Championship last week to come here and finish the championship that the rest of the world really cares about and to make sure that Lewis was crowned champion for the fourth time. It's hard to imagine a season where the champion has more richly deserved the spoils. It's been a brilliant, competitive, inspiring year of motorsport and Lewis has been the one constant throughout. We couldn't be happier for him.
Toto Wolff: This was the hardest championship ever, but it was also extremely well deserved. We had quite some up and downs this season with the new cars and tyres. We had to accept the fact that this is the reality now, and to progress was very difficult for the team and really took the maximum out of us. Lewis probably showed the best and most constant performance of his entire career this season, he has made a step forward in every respect and there is no doubt whatsoever that today the right man was crowned world champion today. While the result was good, the race was not what we had hoped for. But I'd like to just look at the positives today and not dig into a controversy that is not necessary at this stage - Lewis won the championship!
Red Bull-Tag Heuer
Max Verstappen (1st): "A great win and a fun podium, a Dutch DJ and Dutch driver, what a combination. The start of the race itself was not great but this allowed me to tuck in and get a tow from Sebastian, I had to be a bit aggressive but managed to get around the outside at turn one and from then on I was just doing my own race. I would go as far to say this was one of the easiest races of my career. I felt I missed out on pole yesterday so I had a lot of motivation to get the result I wanted today. To get not just a podium but the win is awesome. We calmed the pace and turned down the engine to make sure we brought the car home so I was just cruising towards the end. I was confident the car was going to be good today after studying the long run pace we have shown this weekend. This track with low speed and low grip suits our car, but even in Austin we had the balance and pace, I just had to come from way down the grid. Once we had got the balance of the car right it was easy for us to do quick lap times and sustain them. I think if we keep working this way and have a better start to the season next year we can look forward to achieving great things. The podium here in Mexico is special to be on as the fans are so passionate and being in the stadium section means the atmosphere is like nowhere else, it definitely made up for missing it last year. Like I said in the car on lap 1, it was simply, simply lovely."
Daniel Ricciardo (DNF, Engine): "At the start I did what I could, it was pretty close and there was a lot going on, but I thought I made quick progress. I told Helmut this morning that I would get up to seventh by the end of the first lap, I was a couple of laps off, but I got there and it was all looking pretty good. I think it was lap six when the turbo started to sound strange and then I had no power. I was able to limp back to the pits but that was obviously race over. Friday looked good, things went bad yesterday afternoon and then got worse today. We put the new power unit in last night and now we have a suspected MGU-H failure. There seems to be something fundamental going on with the engines, we've been coming here for the last couple of years so there shouldn't have been any surprises. I guess the altitude and temperatures have been really hard to stay on top of and it's been a pretty grim weekend for some of us. It's a shame to be out so early again, I guess this is a little bit of what Max experienced at the start of the year and it's not so fun. I just hope now that we won't have to take more penalties in Brazil. I don't know how I'm smiling and I'm definitely hurting inside but what can I do, I can't change the situation."
Christian Horner, Sporting Director: "Firstly huge congratulations to Lewis Hamilton and his Mercedes team, four times world champion; we know how difficult that is to achieve. He's now the most successful British driver of all time; but today belonged to Max. After a good start he braved it out at the first couple of turns and after some good, close racing he emerged in the lead and from there onwards he was totally dominant and controlled the race to score his third grand prix victory quite comfortably. Conversely it was very disappointing for Daniel today, we took the penalty to avoid just that scenario and unfortunately he had what looks like an MGU-H failure. He had managed to get up to P7 before having to retire and for sure would have been on the podium. So that's our only frustration, but we will certainly savor the moment with Max's victory here in Mexico City."
Kimi Raikkonen (3rd):
Sebastian Vettel (4th):
Maurizio Arrivabene, Team Principal:
Esteban Ocon (5th): "It's a great day for the team. Fifth place in the race and securing fourth place in the championship is a fantastic achievement after a strong season. For a while I believed the podium was possible because I was sitting in third place for so long. I made a great start and then I pushed as hard as I could in the free air. Sadly the Virtual Safety Car gave Kimi an advantage during the pit stops and he was able to overtake us. The final few laps of the race with Stroll behind me were not easy. He had fresher tires and managed to catch me, so I had to give it everything to stay ahead. When you work so hard for a result it feels very satisfying so I look forward to celebrating tonight."
Sergio Perez (7th): "Despite the poor qualifying yesterday, we came back stronger today and managed to have a really good race with competitive pace. It's just a shame that the Virtual Safety Car happened at the wrong moment because it allowed Stroll to jump ahead of me. Otherwise I think we could have finished in sixth. The main objective of the weekend was to confirm fourth place in the championship so I'm extremely happy that we have done this with two races to spare. It's been another special weekend with so much support from the fans and I have to say a huge thank you to all of them for the energy they have given me."
Robert Fernley, Deputy Team Principal: "It's fantastic to confirm fourth place in the championship with a competitive race in front of so much support from the Mexican fans. For a while the podium looked to be within reach for Esteban until the Virtual Safety Car handed the advantage to Raikkonen and also brought Stroll into play. Esteban had to work hard for the final 20 laps fending off the Williams and did a fantastic job despite being on older tires. Sergio made a late pit stop for some new ultra-soft tires and was catching Stroll quickly, but we just ran out of laps. This result is another demonstration of the progress we have made this season and fourth place in the championship for the second year in a row is a wonderful reward for the entire team."
Lance Stroll (6th): "I think it was a very controlled race. I had a really good start, but then lost some positions as I was on the outside. There were some technical issues and crashes and so I gained some places due to that. We had a good idea all along, assuming I was going to stay in one piece and everything was going to continue along smoothly, we could have a good race. I had a great first stint, a great second stint and in the end I wasn't quite close enough to get into the DRS zone to pass Ocon. I was really managing the tires and the car was balanced very well, so a big thanks to the team. It was a great day, a great result and a great birthday present. Big congratulations to Lewis, he is the king of Formula One, there is no doubt about it. It is incredible what he has accomplished. He is a big inspiration for young drivers like me."
Felipe Massa (11th): "I'm really disappointed. It was a shame to stop so soon with the puncture at the beginning of the race. The car was good, competitive and I'm sure it would have been a completely different situation if we didn't have the puncture. That's the way it is sometimes. I'm happy for the team as we scored more points than Renault with two races to go but it was really a shame for me to have another unlucky moment."
Paddy Lowe, Chief Technical Officer: "We had a good start and both cars got into reasonably good positions, apparently without damage, but that proved not to be the case. Felipe had a slow puncture from some minor contact in the first corner and we had to box him on the second lap. We fitted prime tires to go the end. We were reasonably confident that tire would go the distance and Felipe managed it very well. He had good pace throughout the entire race and if not for Vettel and Hamilton coming through from the back, he would have perhaps got a point or two. So it was a shame for Felipe because the car was there to get points today and he drove extremely well. On Lance's side, he showed strong pace and ran a great first stint on the ultrasoft tire. He had some good fortune with the Virtual Safety Car which actually gained him a place over Perez. We were also able to fit the supersoft tire at that stage to go to the end, so we had the tire life and compound advantage over the two Force Indias. At one point it looked possible he could have taken the position off Ocon but it was just out of reach. It was a great sixth place finish though so Happy Birthday to Lance and well done for a great achievement today! We've taken some further advantage in our fifth place in the Constructors' Championship and well done to the team for getting two cars home and in good shape to go into the final two races. Finally, congratulations to Lewis for his fourth World Championship, he drove a terrific season and it's very well deserved."
Fernando Alonso (10th):
Stoffel Vandoorne (12th):
Eric Boullier, Racing Director:
Yusuke Hasegawa, Honda:
Scuderia Toro Rosso-Renault
Pierre Gasly (13th): "It was good to finally drive on this track after a very tough weekend where I completed very few laps before today! Unfortunately, the race wasn't as good as we wanted it to be - it took me a couple of laps to get used to the track and the car, but at least I continued to gain experience in the car, which was very useful, and go to the end of the race. We will now need to work hard and keep on improving for the next race weekend in Brazil."
Brendon Hartley (DNF, Engine): "It's always disappointing not to finish a race, so I'm not the happiest man today but I'm still smiling because I've made progress compared to last week in Austin. It's just a shame that the race was cut short and it's been quite a tough weekend: issues on Friday, I then couldn't make progress in yesterday's Q2 once the engine went and in today's race I lost power at the end of the straight line, then saw the white smoke and was asked to stop... It would've been good to get to the end of the race because I was enjoying all the battles! I now look forward to the next couple of races, hopefully things will go smoother than today, get to the end of the race and see where we end up!"
Franz Tost, Team Principal: "First of all, I'd like to congratulate Max and Red Bull for this fantastic victory here in Mexico. Regarding our weekend, it's been a difficult one for us, as we didn't have any trouble-free practice sessions. We had Power Unit failures every day and therefore we couldn't prepare the cars in a proper way. With all the penalties, we had to start from the back of the grid and from there it's very difficult to overtake and score points. Nevertheless, I must say that both Brendon and Pierre have done a good job - we have to take into consideration that they are new to the team and they were not able to complete as many laps as we had planned at the start of the weekend...They definitely made the best out of this situation! Regarding Brendon's retirement, we spotted a very high oil consumption and, actually, some oil went into the exhaust, causing its failure. Let's now think of the next round in Brazil, where we hope to have an easier weekend."
Kevin Magnussen (8th): "That was like a victory. It was incredible, and a great way to reward everyone for their hard work. It was a perfect race. It couldn't have gone better. We could easily have given up and just thrown the towel into the ring yesterday - it was a very tough day for us all. Nobody gave up, and everyone knows we're not the worst team, or meant to be on the last row. We're meant to be in the points, fighting in the midfield and getting into the top-10. We pushed on and I'm very proud of the team for that. We're going to continue to fight. It's not going to be easy, we can see that, but we'll continue to push in the constructors championship and have fun all the way to the end."
Romain Grosjean (15th): "It wasn't to be today. We started on supersofts and it was tough to follow the ultrasofts, initially. The contact with Fernando (Alonso) damaged my car. I haven't seen the footage so I don't know, but it was at turn one and I lost half of the floor. From that point it was almost over. I just tried to hang in there. Good job from Kevin and I'm happy for the team. We just need to sort our race pace a little bit. The next track, Brazil, is one I like, so I'll be hoping for more. Hopefully, we'll get a good race and try to get Renault back, and Toro Rosso is not that far either."
Guenther Steiner, Team Principal: "What can I say? We bounced back. Did we expect this? No, but I think we deserved it. Everybody fought hard after the disappointments of the last two days. Kevin did a magnificent job. Unfortunately for Romain, it didn't work out as well. We are very happy for the team to have scored points again."
Carlos Sainz (DNF):
Nico Hulkenberg (DNF):
Alan Permane, Sporting Director:
Nick Chester, Technical Director:
Cyril Abiteboul, Managing Director:
Pascal Wehrlein (14th):
Marcus Ericsson (DNF):
Frederic Vasseur, Team Principal:
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