The sleep-deprived among you will have probably watched the stunning scenes from this morning’s Mexico City Grand Prix, in which Red Bull Racing’s Max Verstappen took his ninth victory of the 2021 season and teammate (and home hero) Sergio Pérez finished third. Defending champion Lewis Hamilton crossed the line just ahead of Pérez for Mercedes-AMG Petronas, while Scuderia AlphaTauri’s Pierre Gasly came home fourth to cap off a strong race for the Honda-engined teams.
Verstappen’s dominant win came even after a botched qualifying left the Red Bull drivers third and fourth on the grid behind Hamilton and pole sitter Valtteri Bottas. At the start, the Dutchman capitalised on the slipstream from the two Mercedes cars to pull alongside, then braked late to go around the outside of Turn 1 and take the lead.
Hamilton slotted into second ahead of Perez, who had to cut across the grass to avoid Bottas. The Finn was pitched into a spin by a strong-starting Daniel Ricciardo, breaking the nose of the latter’s McLaren, bringing out the safety car and forcing both into the pits for fresh tyres. The two drivers failed to make much headway up the order and remained outside the points for the rest of the race.
Out in front, Verstappen handled the restart well and used his RB16B’s sheer pace advantage to move well clear of Hamilton, who was instead coming under pressure from Pérez. Mercedes responded by pitting the Briton on Lap 30 for new tyres, while Pérez used his famed tyre management skills and stayed out – making him the first Mexican driver to lead his home race in the process – until Lap 41.
Pérez came out nine seconds behind Hamilton and began to scythe through the gap, trimming it down to just one second by Lap 60. Despite coming within DRS range, the second Red Bull failed to make it past, with Hamilton surviving a last-lap lunge to hang on to second. The rapturous crowd cheered home their driver Pérez, who became the first Mexican to score a podium at the event.
Verstappen’s victory enabled him to extend his lead in the drivers’ championship to 19 points ahead of Hamilton, even though he was denied an extra point for the fastest lap by Bottas (who needed two pit stops to do it). Red Bull, meanwhile, is one point behind Mercedes in the constructors’ standings.
Red Bull and Honda are coming close to breaking Mercedes’ title stranglehold, the Brackley team having scored seven consecutive championship doubles since the dawn of the hybrid era in 2014. With up to 100 points still up for grabs, however, it’s anyone’s game. The circus rolls on to Brazil for the Sao Paolo Grand Prix this weekend, another race that Red Bull is expected to be strong at.
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