Sergio Perez, Daniel Ricciardo and Lewis Hamilton were RaceFans’ Star Performers of the Mexican Grand Prix weekend. Here’s why.
Ricciardo was frustrated after qualifying 13th on Saturday, but he turned this frustration into speed on Sunday as he picked his way through the field. His impressive first stint of 50 laps on the hard tyre allowed him to jump several drivers, and he came out of the pits in eighth position. He finished there after trying everything to get by Perez, including a late-braking move into turn one where he locked up and ran wide through the grass of the first chicane.
Hamilton was unable to wrap up the driver’s title in Mexico, but he did everything he could by making his set of hard tyres last to the end of the race. Hamilton was fifth by the end of lap one, following contact with Verstappen that caused him to run wide at the exit of turn two. Undercutting Sebastian Vettel and holding him off towards the end of the race on 14 lap older tyres was the key to Hamilton’s victory.
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Grosjean was out-qualified by nearly two tenths in qualifying and struggled to get to grips with the car after spinning in Q1 and making two big balance changes. In the race, his pace was dreadful. He fell behind both Williams at one point, and he would have stayed there if Kubica hadn’t picked up a puncture. Haas’ car was uncompetitive this weekend, but Grosjean didn’t extract nearly as much out of the car as Magnussen who finished 50.3 seconds in front.
Stroll was significantly off the pace of his teammate on Saturday, qualifying six-tenths slower than Perez in Q1, and he failed to advance to Q2. He gained two positions on the first lap, but struggled to make on-track overtakes, and he wasn’t able to use strategy to get ahead of those in front. He finished in 12th, 38.6 seconds adrift of Perez.
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And the rest
Max Verstappen and Red Bull were the favourites heading into the weekend until Verstappen received a three-place grid penalty for not seeing the yellow flags in Q3 that stripped his pole from him. His luck didn’t improve as made contact with Hamilton through turns one and two, and suffered a puncture as he overtook Bottas. He showed great pace for the rest of the race, but was unable to come back and beat his teammate, Alex Albon, who finished fifth after an early pit stop from third place took him out of the race on the two-stop strategy.
Ferrari inherited a front row lockout thanks to Verstappen’s penalty, and they were able to maintain their lead through the first stint of the race. Strategy proved to be the Scuderia’s downfall once again as Leclerc pitted early, dropping him from first to fourth in order to cover off Albon’s early stop. With Vettel they failed to estimate how long the hard tyres would last and they lacked the pace to fight for the lead.
Bottas was quicker than Hamilton in practice two and three, but suffered a scary crash during his final run in Q3. He evaded any part replacement related grid drop and started sixth. He lost a position on the opening lap, but later he tried to pass Vettel for second at the end of the race but failed to do so.
Kvyat was the better of the two Toro Rosso drivers until he made a clumsy overtaking attempt on Hulkenberg on the final lap of the race and subsequently received a deserved ten-second time penalty. This promoted Gasly to ninth and Hulkenberg back into the points.
Both McLarens made great starts, as has become typical for the Woking based outfit, but the first pit stops ruined both driver’s races. Lando Norris’ front left tyre was cross threaded and he had to be wheeled back to the McLaren pit box. He later retired from the race. Sainz couldn’t get his set of hard tyres to work and plummeted down the order, eventually finishing 13th.
The Williams drivers battled throughout the race and on lap 24 Kubica took advantage of Russell locking up and running wide on fresh cold tyres. Later a puncture forced Kubica into the pits and out of his fight with Russell. Magnussen and Giovinazzi were not too far ahead, but both cars were fairly uncompetitive at this one-off track
Over to you
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