Mexican Grand Prix – Lewis Hamilton recovered from a combative opening couple of corners to take his tenth victory of the season and move one step closer to the drivers’ title.
Starting third, Hamilton’s strong getaway was rebuffed by Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel prior to turn one, opening the door for Max Verstappen to challenge for the position.
With Verstappen attempting to pass on the inside of turn one, Hamilton held on around the outside and braked late into turn two in order to hold the place over the Red Bull driver. However, contact was made and both cars cut across the grass.
Both survived the contact, but Hamilton dropped to fifth and Verstappen fell to eighth, eventually heading to the back of the field after picking up a puncture against the second Mercedes of Valtteri Bottas.
Running fourth before the first pit stops, Hamilton undercut fellow one-stopping drivers Vettel and Bottas to lead the race after the pit stops, a lead which he held until the flag.
Speaking after the race, Hamilton conceded that, along with the turn two contact, Mercedes’ pace on Friday meant he was unconvinced about their prospects of winning the race.
“Today was a surprise,” said Hamilton. “We’ve really struggled here for quite some time and we came into this weekend [not expecting victory]. It’s really quite a humbling experience because, I’m not sure if people realise that it’s a real journey through the week: You arrive here, you go through the press and you head in to Friday knowing you might be on the back foot, which we were.
“But we kept our heads down, kept working and obviously we didn’t have [Hamilton’s race engineer] Bono here, but he was here in spirit and I just wanted to make him proud this weekend. [Stand-in race engineer] Marcus [Dudley] stepped up to the plate and did a good job, so it’s a huge journey we’ve gone on together and we’re always facing a lot of question marks and doubts and demons.
“If you look at last year, we lost by nearly 80 seconds and we struggled with our tyres, and we thought that could potentially be the case this weekend and, in our long runs on Friday, I couldn’t make the tyres go the distance, but today it worked.
“I had a crazy first couple of corners. Seb put me on the grass at the start, Max hit me in the back, damaged my car and I thought ‘how am I going to make this happen?’, but I just kept my head down and never gave up.”