Hamilton takes Mexico but the title wait goes on

Written by Sport

British driver Lewis Hamilton took the Mexican Grand Prix – notching his 100th race win in a Mercedes car – but his wait to be crowned the Drivers Champion will go on at least till the next race in Austin, Texas at the United States Grand Prix. Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel took second while teammate Valteri Bottas finished third ahead of pole-sitter Charles Leclerc.

The Mercedes car came into this weekend distinctly slower than the Red Bull and the Ferrari cars with the Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez not being a favourable one for the German manufacturer. This was further confirmed in qualifying when Max Verstappen for the Red Bull took pole position with Vettel and Leclerc behind him. The Dutchman did get a grid penalty for ignoring a yellow flag in Q3 thanks to Bottas’ crash on the final turn meaning he started fourth – alongside Hamilton – as Ferrari locked up the front row.

Verstappen suffered a horrendous start as both he and Hamilton were side by side going into turn two and three – eventually forcing both of them onto the grass and losing places to Alex Albon in the other Red Bull as well as McLaren’s Carlos Sainz and Lando Norris. Verstappen’s race further descended into chaos when a scrap between him and Bottas resulted in a punctured right rear tyre, forcing the Dutchman into an early pitstop and dropping to 20th place in the race.

Mercedes benefited from bad strategy on the part of Ferrari where they effectively took the race win from Leclerc’s hands by sticking to a two-stop while Bottas and Hamilton both stuck to one-stop strategies – as did Vettel who took matters into his own hands. While Bottas decided to mirror Vettel, Hamilton was called in on lap 23 to make the switch to hard tyres with boss Toto Wolff probably seeing how Daniel Ricciardo in the Renault had benefited from them himself.

Despite repeated moans from Lewis about how he thought they had pitted too early (it required chief strategist James Vowles to intervene at one point and reassure him), Mercedes thought they struck gold when Vettel eked out 37 laps on medium tyres before switching to hard tyres. Despite having fresher tyres towards the end of the race, Hamilton’s tyre management meant that Vettel was never close enough to use the Ferrari’s superior straight-line speed and perform an overtake – especially on the notoriously long pit straight – while Leclerc’s two-stop strategy consigned him to fourth place ever since lap 15.

Behind the leaders, there were disasters aplenty in the pit lane as McLaren’s Lando Norris came out nearly a full lap behind when his mechanics didn’t put in the left front tyre properly – causing an unsafe release before eventually fixing it. It didn’t matter though as Norris eventually retired to save the car. Alfa Romeo’s Antonio Giovinazzi was dropped off from the jack with his right rear still loose although the team – unlike McLaren – did catch it in time. Local boy Sergio Perez was the best of the rest in his Racing Point car as the Mexican finished 7th behind Verstappen, who had a brilliant drive to finish in the top six.

Hamilton, with this win, came even closer to winning his sixth Drivers’ title and nearing Michael Schumacher’s record-holding seven. He will have another chance to do so at the US Grand Prix – a race he has won five out of the last seven years.

Last modified: 30th October 2019

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