Max Verstappen, Red Bull, Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez, 2023

Verstappen cruises to record-breaking Mexican GP win ahead of Hamilton and Leclerc

Formula 1

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Max Verstappen broke his own record for the most victories in a single season by winning the Mexican Grand Prix ahead of Lewis Hamilton and the two Ferraris.

The world champion leapt into the lead at the start and controlled the race from there, even holding onto first place following a mid-race red flag restart. Hamilton finished 14 seconds behind Verstappen in second with the Ferraris of Charles Leclerc and Carlos Sainz Jnr behind them.

Before the start of the race, the first 13 drivers on the grid all revealed medium tyres on their cars as they headed off on the formation lap. The two Ferraris lined up on the front row of the grid but when the lights went out, Verstappen in third place got a much better launch than Leclerc and Sainz ahead and was already edging ahead half way down the straight.

Sergio Perez had even more momentum from fifth on the grid and pulled alongside Leclerc and Verstappen around the outside heading into turn one. As the trio turned into the corner, Leclerc was squeezed by the two Red Bulls and clipped the rear of Perez’s car, sending Perez bouncing into the run off and down to the rear of the field. Verstappen took the lead as Leclerc dropped to second with front wing damage, with Sainz in third, Daniel Ricciardo fourth and Lewis Hamilton in fifth.

Perez recovered to the pits with a wounded car and was forced to retire from the damage sustained. The left-hand endplate on Leclerc’s front wing was hanging off precariously and eventually broke from his Ferrari at the first corner on lap four, leading to the Virtual Safety Car briefly being deployed. The race soon resumed, with Verstappen leading away from the two Ferraris behind him. The stewards announced that Leclerc would be investigated after the race for driving in an unsafe condition due to his damaged front wing.

Hamilton picked up fourth by passing Ricciardo into turn one on lap 11 and quickly set about trying to catch the Ferraris ahead, who were three seconds behind the leader. That advantage grew to just under five seconds by the time Verstappen was the first of the leaders to pit at the end of lap 19. He fitted hard tyres and rejoined in seventh place behind Russell.

Verstappen caught and passed Russell with ease and soon picked Oscar Piastri’s McLaren and Ricciardo’s AlphaTauri to move up behind Sainz. Using DRS along the main straight, Verstappen breezed by the Ferrari at the start of lap 29 to move up to second, with Leclerc eventually pitting from the lead for hard tyres at the end of the lap 31, which allowed Verstappen back into the lead.

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Verstappen had an advantage of around 17 seconds over Leclerc before the yellow flags suddenly flew on lap 33. Kevin Magnussen had suffered an apparent suspension failure on his Haas at turn eight, sending him hard into the TecPro barriers on the outside. Thankfully he was able to climb out of his car unaided after the heavy impact and the Safety Car was deployed.

Red Bull called Verstappen into the pits to switch onto his second set of hard tyres, Lando Norris and Alexander Albon also pitting. However, race director Niels Wittich opted to red-flag the race due to the amount of work required.

Verstappen led the field into the pit lane under the red flag just before half-distance ahead of Leclerc in second, Hamilton third, Sainz fourth and Ricciardo fifth. After a delay of just over 20 minutes, the sole remaining Red Bull drove the pack back around to the the grid for a standing restart. The lights came on and disappeared for a second time, with Verstappen leading the charge down to turn one. Hamilton challenged Leclerc for second but had to settle into third as the field all made their way safely through the restart lap without incident.

Hamilton switched from hard tyres to mediums under the red flag and used them to pressure Leclerc for second place. He passed the Ferrari into turn one at the start of lap 40, but Verstappen was already three seconds ahead in the lead.

The leader gradually pulled away from Hamilton behind who himself was dropping the two Ferraris. The yellow flags briefly appeared at turn one when Yuki Tsunoda and Oscar Paistri clashed while battling over seventh with Tsunoda sent skidding down the escape road and down the order. The incident was investigated by the stewards, who determined no further action was necessary.

With under 20 laps remaining, Verstappen’s advantage had grown to ten seconds. Hamilton continues to lap quicker than the Ferraris behind and did not seem in danger of being caught by them. Verstappen continued to control his pace out front and simply checked off the remaining laps to take the chequered flag at the end of lap 71 to secure his record-breaking 16th grand prix win of the season.

Hamilton was almost 14 seconds behind the winner in second with Leclerc taking third, but will be under investigation after the race for driving in an unsafe conditions. Sainz finished fourth, with Norris claiming fifth after climbing from near the back of the grid. Russell took sixth with Ricciardo equalling AlphaTauri’s best finish of the season in seventh. Piastri fell to eighth with Albon taking two points in ninth with Esteban Ocon claiming the final point in tenth by passing Nico Hulkenberg.

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2023 Mexican Grand Prix

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Will Wood
Will has been a RaceFans contributor since 2012 during which time he has covered F1 test sessions, launch events and interviewed drivers. He mainly...

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14 comments on “Verstappen cruises to record-breaking Mexican GP win ahead of Hamilton and Leclerc”

  1. Ricciardo haters Yesterday: points are made on Sunday

    where are Ricciardo haters today?

    1. I’m right here: where did he finish in the race? Finished 7th after starting 4th, and two place behind Norris who started 17th.
      Someone after qualifying (can’t remember who it was) seemed to think he’d be challenging Verstappen who was starting third. That didn’t happen even a little bit.

      1. He’s driving an Alpha Tauri. Seems like a race maximised from Dan’s perspective.
        I’m not a Dan fan.. just being neutral on his performance.

    2. He steadily fell back in the race, and was just two places ahead of his perennially underwhelming teammate after the restart until the latter dropped himself to near last. A solid effort? Sure. Spectacular return to form? Not quite.

      The Red Bull II was well suited to the track, and beating Piastri was good. But getting the most out of the car is kind of expected. It’s no coincidence that most teammates finished close together.

  2. Coventry Climax
    29th October 2023, 23:54

    Wow, yet another race report. Do you guys ever talk to eachother before posting your articles?

    Anyway, I can’t quite agree with:

    As the trio turned into the corner, Leclerc was squeezed by the two Red Bulls and clipped the rear of Perez’s car, sending Perez bouncing into the run off and down to the rear of the field.

    Leclerc wasn’t squeezed by two Red Bulls, but only by one, the one on his left. That was the one that steered straight for the apex, while the other two cars were still inbetween. You can’t expect the most inside car to cut off the corner, and you can expect the middle car to leave room for the one inside.
    So Leclerc didn’t clip Perez’ right rear, it was Perez himself who ran into Leclerc.

    I know Perez has a contract for next year, but I wouldn’t put my money on him driving that second Red Bull in 2024.
    Let’s face it, it would be the decent choice to make. Put the guy out of his misery, please. Another year of this will leave him traumatized for the rest of his life, exchanging stories about the old days with Massa, in the same retirement home, probably. Grosjean might mix into those conversations too, from time to time, as well as Maldonado.

    1. Wow, you don’t have to read it if you think there are too many race reports.

      Anyway, I can’t quite agree with:

      Leclerc wasn’t squeezed by two Red Bulls, but only by one, the one on his left.

      Being squeezed per definition requires an object on both sides; otherwise it would be ‘being pushed’.

      1. Coventry Climax
        30th October 2023, 14:49

        Contrary to what most people seem to do these days, I actually read and learn about stuff before I give an opinion.

        Language-wise, technically? Oh well. You need tree objects alright, for the middle one to be squeezed, but one of the outer ones can very well be static, like the bottom of the container you squeeze your juice into. Or a wall. Or two cars you can expect will not give way.
        More essential; You took a quote to comment on, but -deliberately?- omitted the explanation I gave following that quote.
        That’s a very ‘modern’ way as well apparently, to react to people.

        With regard to the actual action going into that first corner though, Perez has already admitted to all of the squeezing having come from him only, so no point in discussing that further.

        I’ve got the Disney T-shirt with Grumpy on it, saying “I’m Grumpy – don’t make it worse!” and it’s quite appropriate to me quite often.
        Maybe you should buy one too.

  3. I think Perez has already been told that he will lose his seat – there is just desperation in his driving.

    His performance is really bad now – over the last 4 races he has been outscored by both Ferrari, Mercedes and McLaren driver.

    Race 1-5 105 points
    Race 6-10 51 points
    Race 11-15 67 points
    Race 16-19 17 points

    At same time in the same car Max is pretty much breaking all the season records getting near maximum points.
    Race 1-5 119 points = 86.2% of max 138 points (missed 2x 7 in race, 2 in sprint and 3 no FLAP)
    Race 6-10 136 points = 98.6% of max 138 points (missed 2 no FLAP)
    Race 11-15 119 points = 86.2% of max 138 points (missed 15 in race and 4 no FLAP)
    Race 16-19 117 points = 97.5% of max 120 points (missed 1 in sprint and 2 no FLAP)

    Max has scored more points in races 6-10 than Checo has in races 6-19.
    From Monaco onwards Checo scored only 135 points being outsourced by Sainz (136), Lewis (157 points) and Norris (159 points) with Max scoring an astonishing 372 points from those 14 races, 26.6 average per race.

    1. Jimmy “26.6 average per race”

      Per race weekend rather than per race. Because of sprint events, some weekends have a maximum of 26 points and some 34 points, so taking similar averages of disimilar values can be misleading. That doesn’t detract from the overall point you are making though, that Perez is lacklustre or worse in the Red Bull.

      1. Indeed you are correct, 26.6 per raceweekend or 23.5 per race (excl sprint & FLAP).

        446 points of 475 points maximum just Sunday race points = 93.9% of maximum excl FLAP/Sprint

        Best ever till 2023 was Schumacher in his 100% podium 2002 season, 144 / 170 = 84.7% – adjusted to current point system improves that to 89.4% = 380 / 425 but still 4.5% less than Max season to date.

    2. Michael (@freelittlebirds)
      30th October 2023, 14:10

      Interesting perspective about Perez’s performance – it doesn’t help that Ricciardo did so well either.

  4. Jonathan Parkin
    30th October 2023, 13:01

    Can we please do something about winners trophies

    Considering the status of being on an F1 podium they continue to be a downgrade from what I remember from the nineties and the 2000’s

    1. I think his trophy is a withered witch’s hand. Just in time for Halloween!

  5. Michael (@freelittlebirds)
    30th October 2023, 14:08

    It must be tough for Horner to celebrate after that draconian penalty last year :-)

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