Kevin Magnussen, Haas, Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez, 2017

2017 Mexican Grand Prix weekend Star Performers

2017 Mexican Grand Prix

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Max Verstappen, Esteban Ocon and Kevin Magnussen were F1 Fanatic’s Star Performers of the Mexican Grand Prix weekend. Here’s why.

Stars

Max Verstappen

Max Verstappen, Lewis Hamilton, Sebastian Vettel, Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez, 2017
Verstappen left the title contenders behind
Pole position was there for the taking but according to his team much of the gap between Verstappen and Sebastian Vettel came down to a mis-timed energy deployment. Nonetheless he was well ahead of his team mate.

When the race started Verstappen was immediately on the attack, his racecraft muscular yet pinpoint-accurate as he dispensed with Vettel. From there on he never looked like being beaten. He’s had more exciting drives than this one, but none as consummate. On the day the latest champion was crowned, Verstappen looked ready to become the next one.

Esteban Ocon

Shrugging off death threats and the inconvenience of not being able to drive in first practice, Ocon once again showed his team mate a clean pair of heels. He was superb in qualifying, where he also beat an out-of-sorts Daniel Ricciardo.

By the end of a frenetic first lap Ocon was up in third position. He later suggested he might have finished there had it not been for the Virtual Safety Car deployment which handed the place to Kimi Raikkonen, but realistically the Ferrari driver always looked likely to jump ahead. Vettel was also too quick for him, so the result was fifth and ‘best of the rest’ once again.

Kevin Magnussen

It wasn’t looking good for Haas after qualifying, with both their drivers knocked out in Q1. As was the case last year they just couldn’t seem to get a handle on the Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez: Kevin Magnussen and Romain Grosjean were only separated by a few hundredths at the rear of the field.

Grid penalties moved them up the order, however, and at the start Magnussen made quick progress. He was swiftly up to tenth, an early pit stop for Felipe Massa gave him another place, and Daniel Ricciardo’s retirement left him eighth.

Surprisingly, he held that position until the end. Vettel inevitably came by but he was just quick enough to stay out of Lewis Hamilton’s reach. It helped matters that he was on a better strategy than the team’s other car, but this was definitely one of his best drives this year, and a vital boost for Haas in the constructors’ championship.

Strugglers

Pascal Wehrlein

Wehrlein’s head seems to have dropped just when he needs to be making a case for himself to grab one of the midfield seats remaining in 2018. He was out-paced by Marcus Ericsson in qualifying, where he owned up to making a mistake, and in the race, where his tyre strategy looked rather optimistic.

And the rest

Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes, Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez, 2017
Hamilton took the title but not in the way he wanted to
Vettel delivered the goods in qualifying but was overwhelmed at the start. His clash with Hamilton looked more desperate than cynical, though he should count himself fortunate not to have picked up a penalty. After that he recovered well with utter tenacity. Raikkonen should have been further ahead of him at the end.

The new champion’s weekend was compromised from that moment on. Valtteri Bottas, who blamed his Q3 lock-up on having to dodge past Verstappen, might have beaten him to third on the grid had he not had to carry an extra lap of fuel. He had nothing for Verstappen in the race, however.

Ricciardo looked on course to bounce back from a frustrating Saturday when his power unit failed. He was joined in retirement by Nico Hulkenberg, who’s had particularly miserable luck of late, and Brendon Hartley, who continued to show promise in between his Toro Rosso’s periodic breakdowns. Ericsson ran in the points but a power unit problem ended his day. And Carlos Sainz Jnr picked up damage at the start which later forced him out.

Surprisingly Pierre Gasly’s car held to the end in what amounted to an extended test session. Car failures and Toro Rosso’s insistence on giving Sean Gelael his first taste of the track before Gasly meant the latter had only run 12 laps before the race began.

Sergio Perez continued to struggle at his home track though he would have been ahead of Lance Stroll if it hadn’t been for the VSC. An early puncture ruined Massa’s race.

Over to you

Vote for the driver who impressed you most last weekend and find out whether other F1 Fanatics share your view here:

2017 Mexican Grand Prix

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Author information

Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

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40 comments on “2017 Mexican Grand Prix weekend Star Performers”

  1. I guess in Mexico we witnessed the changing of the guards in F1.

    1. ROTFL!
      The guy has won THREE races, two of them with both the major contenders out of the fight.

      1. @liko41 How many GPs did Schumacher win before the changing of the guards in F1 in 1994? Two. How many GPs did Vettel win before the changing of the guards in F1 in 2009? One. Or is the changing of the guards AFTER you win a championship?

        Having said that, I don’t think the Vettel/Hamilton era is over yet.

        1. There are some differences.
          In Schumacher’s case, with Mansell in the Usa, Piquet and Prost retired, the only WDC in 1994 on the grid was Senna who died in Imola, so the older ones were 2nd drivers (Berger, Alesi…) and the way for Schumi and the others (Hill, Villeneuve, Hakkinen) was free.
          In Vettel’s case (and Hamilton and Rosberg), they started to win gp and wdc alongside the generation in the middle between them and Schumi, the ones that started around the 2000, Raikkonen, Alonso, Button, Massa and Webber.
          In the same way Verstappen and the others (Ocon, Sainz, maybe Vandoorne, Leclerc and Norris), will fight to win against the ones in the middle between them and Alonso.
          I don’t see drivers like Hamilton and Vettel giving up before 2021.

          1. Lol Mansell. Like he was ever any good.

        2. Yes, it’s after.

        3. One battle I’m hoping for next year @matthijs that is not talked about is Alonso vs Verstappen. Hopefully we are having races where its Mercedes vs Ferrari vs Red Bull vs McLaren.

          Theres a lot to look forwards to next year. With Palmer & Kvyat gone, and room likely to be made for both Gionvinnazi and LeClerc you’re looking at a grid which has got talent from top to bottom. I know we are a critical bunch, but this combined with new regulations from 2021 addressing some of the other problems tells me the sport is heading in the right direction.

        4. Yeah, but Schumacher proved to be able to beat the bests of his era on track.
          I don’t feel Verstappen has showed a similar potential, yet. Of course, I’m not ruling out the chance he will, it’s just I am still not sure.

          Vettel, BTW, is not a good example, his stats are largely influenced by Red Bull cars and politics..

          1. And when he (Schumi) couldn’t beat them on the track, he drove into them or parked in the middle of Rascasse – never forget that! For all his attainments, Michael Schumacher is also the greatest cheater in F1 history.

          2. And without doubt, the same goes for Hamilton.

            Without that superiority of the Merc in last 4 years, he would not have been a 4 time WDC. He even lost a year against a teammate in the same superior car and without the bad strike of Vettel these last 4 races he would not have been 2017 WDC yet. So luck and the right car at the right moment are always of the highest importance to become WDC.

            And Hamilton did have lots of fortune and car reliability this year, he has only driven one lap less then the maximum possible this season (that one lap was the last lap in Mexico because he finished one lap down on Verstappen because he was lapped during the race!).

  2. Didn’t Wehrlein pit on lap 4 to finish the race on the new set of tyres? That didn’t really look like a strategy to me, especially considering that he had a very slow in lap. I thought he was one of the drivers who were unlucky enough to collect debris from Vettel’s collision, damaging his tyre.
    But I don’t know of any statements that could support or disprove that impression. At this stage, the Sauber drivers could strip to their underwear and perform the YMCA dance on the grid, and still hardly be noticed by the cameras.

    1. He didn’t collect anything from what I was aware. They just tried what they did on Ericsson last year. Ericsson got involved in a first lap collision last year and had to go round slow and pit. He then did 69 laps on one set of tryes. He then finished 11th with his Sauber and only Wehrlein in a Manor had retired that race. Based on this, they maybe thought that Wehrlein should have managed to do 65 laps. But compared to Ericsson last year, I think it was pretty clear that he struggled. Therefore, I think I can understand Keith putting him as a struggler.

    2. I guess it was a normal strategy. Sauber has been adopting these kinds of weird strategies all season long. The main idea is to get out of the traffic jam as soon as possible in order to gain track position after the round of pitstops. This time the strategy most likely didn’t work because fresh softs were slower than slightly worn ultra-softs. Also, most drivers got an almost free stop during the virtual safety car period. I think it’s a shame, because Wehrlein was actually reasonably fast in the race and he would have done much better with a more conventional strategy.

  3. @liko41 How many GPs did Schumacher win before the changing of the guards in F1 in 1994? Two. How many GPs did Vettel win before the changing of the guards in F1 in 2009? One. Or is the changing of the guards AFTER you win a championship?

    Having said that, I don’t think the Vettel/Hamilton era is over yet.

    1. Sorry, wrong place.

  4. I found Hamilton to be one of the strugglers. It took him ages to pass Sainz for P18. Than only finishing 9th wasn’t up to the level we normally see him operate. The difference between the Mercedes and the mid field teams is massive and he should have been 6-7th at least.
    And that for his championship race.

    1. @seabass – The Mercs were set up for the Ultrasoft tyres, it’s pretty much all they used for fast runs. Unfortunately, the race-start damage to Hamilton’s diffuser and final set of Ultrasofts left him with a very non-optimal setup. It was hard to see him struggling in the turbulence of midfielders but things improved as soon as he upgraded from Softs to Supersofts.

    2. To be fair, Hamilton’s car had a chunk of the diffuser broken so the car was compromised and he was many laps behind Sainz that had a fairly quick car. He made better progress once Sainz was out of the way.

    3. @seabass Hamilton not being able to move up through the field had me puzzled until I found out (after the race) that his diffuser had been badly damaged in that 1st lap incident. I suppose that could explain it, but you’re right, he was definitely one of the strugglers.

      1. After he changed his tires in lap 1 he drove several laps in the same lap times as the top 3, so I don’t think that that diffuser played such a big role. Only when he had to pass a front runner he wasn’t able to do that in a few corners. It took him ages to pass the number 17 on the grid! That’s a struggler for me, WDC or not .

        1. There’s no way Hamilton was a struggler. He was hit and suffered massive damage through no fault of his own. He was at least 20 seconds behind Sainz and in dead last after lap 1. He took some time to overtake a few cars but he didn’t need to be as aggressive as Vettel. Let’s face it, he knew he’d likely won the Championship and would probably want to celebrate by finishing the race rather than in the garage. He didn’t need to take risks so we’ve got easier overtakes. Just look at the diffuser and floor damage and tell me that didn’t impact the pace of the car.

    4. I keep seeing this comment raised on social media and it just seems absurd.

      Firstly as stated Hamilton had damage, so his whole race was compromised. Secondly when returning to the track after his 1st lap pitstop he was 24 seconds behind the next car on track (Vettel). Even discounting the damage Hamilton would have been a better position if he had started in the pitlane and given everyone else a 30 second head start.

      It took him ages to pass Sainz for P18

      There were 12 laps between Hamilton arriving behind Sainz and him overtaking. For the first 11 of these laps Sainz had DRS due to being behind Wehrlein. Hamilton overtook Sainz on the first lap Sainz didn’t have DRS to help defend. Also the Renault is far from the worst car on the grid. They locked out the 4th row and were only half a second off of the Merc’s pace in qualy.

      Its worth noting that Vettel never had to overtake Sainz (or the other Renault) at all, as Sainz came out of the pits behind him. Vettel did however get stuck behind the slower McLaren of Alonso for 8 laps and never successful overtook him (after 8 laps Alonso pitted).

    5. Hamilton did a ‘Rosberg’.
      He safely steered the car home in the position needed for his WDC.

      Hardly a Struggler.

  5. @seabass I think he had a severely damaged diffuser.

  6. Grosjean was for me the biggest struggler of the weekend. Surprised when I didn’t see him on this list.

    1. Agree, Grosjean was awful.

  7. To me Vettel belongs in the strugglers group. He had an erratic start/opening few corners in which he made contact with Verstappen’s rear tire and then Hamilton’s rear tire and destroyed his frontwing. After the subsequent pitstop his comeback through the field looked a bit erratic to me as well and he ended up miles away from a podium.

    1. @jeffreyj

      Vettel didn’t get any sort of penalty for what he did so I don’t think it was that bad. This is about how well the drivers do over the weekend. Remember who got pole when many were expecting Verstappen? Vettel got it. I think you are missing something on Vettel’s recovery drive. He was well behind the leaders because getting damage like that is much more costly than just starting on the back row. Recovering to 4th place and only 16 seconds behind your team mate who wasn’t involved in any of this is not bad at all. Ignoring his mistake at the start, his recovery drive looked at the same level as Verstappen in the USA. Loads of really good overtakes showing that he’s still very good even if he does make mistakes now and then. I don’t think he’s anywhere close to a struggler.

      1. His firstlap performance is his first lap performance. A penalty is highly arbitrary so to me it’s not the deciding factor on whether it was a good or bad first lap.

        He did grab pole and he did finish relatively close to his teammate, sure. However, I can’t see past his first lap performance especially given the implications for the championship battle. I mean, he can’t control where Hamilton finishes and therefor the championship wasn’t totally in his own hands anymore, but he did control his own performance and failed to do what he had to do. Also, this wasn’t the first time this year where making contact prevented him from coming away from a weekend with the maximum possible result. I expect more from a driver of his caliber. I have nothing against Vettel personally, I just find it below par. If it were Lewis or Max in his position I’d say the same thing.

        1. With hamilton 3rd winning would’ve been useless for vettel, so puncturing his tyre without getting a penalty was a good strategy, what didn’t work was that he also damaged his front wing!

  8. I’d have put Alonso in the stars. Take away his grid penalties and he’d have had a very strong result.

  9. No credit for Stroll who ended up hounding Ocon for 5th place..

    1. This is the Mexican Grand Prix “weekend” star performers. Stroll was 1.060 seconds behind Massa in qualifying. A whopping gap. Massa had a better start than Stroll and then had a front right puncture which ruined his race. But he still did some very good defending and recovered to 11th. Stroll had a very solid race, but Massa will have very likely beaten him if it wasn’t for his puncture. I don’t want to take too much off Stroll, as he really is starting to look decent during a lot of races now, but it was another weekend where Massa has looked a fair bit better.

  10. I wonder what Ericsson would have to achieve to be mentioned as a star performer…. He was outqualified his teammate and both Haas….in a Sauber. He was going in 8th place when VSC came out just 2-3 laps after he pited and robbed him from a clear chance to points…. in a Sauber. Even if he had a DNF due to mechanicly problems he clearly did an outstanding performance in Mexico worth mentioning.

  11. Wonderful race by MAG – he do have talent and ball5… nice

  12. Lots of exciting driving in this race. I was rooting for Vettel, but I thought he would have a hard time holding onto the lead at tree start. It seems to me that Red Bulls and Mercedes have been consistently better drag racers this year. Remember, Vettel lost a race to Bottas because of the race to the first turn. Verstappen always makes great starts, and quite frankly, I do think that one way or another, he was going to win this one. I also think that if Riciardo could have finished, he would have been second.

  13. I miss Vettel as a Star
    His quali and 99.9% of the race were sublime.

    And quite impressed with Alonso’s quali pace and racing.

    Maybe there were 5 Stars in Mexico.

  14. Why are you a starperformer when you win in the fastest car… ? You should just be called a strugler if you loose and there is no defect – Vettel was a Strugler together with Hamilton…

  15. Max has finally taken revenge against Vettel.

  16. Season Star Performers:

    +10: Hamilton
    +9:
    +8:
    +7: Vettel
    +6:
    +5: Verstappen
    +4: Hulkenberg
    +3: Alonso, Perez, , Ricciardo, Ocon
    +2: Sainz
    +1:Di Resta, Bottas, Magnussen
    0 : Giovinazzi, Wehrlein, Button, Grosjean
    -1: Gasly, Massa
    -2: Stroll, Ericsson Vandoorne
    -3: Kvyat
    -4: Raikkonen
    -5:
    -6: Palmer
    This is sum of Keith’s star performers and strugglers, with one point added when a driver was mentioned as a star performer, and one point subtracted when a driver was mentioned as a struggler.

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