Mexican Grand Prix – Lewis Hamilton triumphed in an engrossing Mexican Grand Prix ahead of Sebastian Vettel, but must wait another race to secure his sixth drivers’ championship.
With Mercedes, Ferrari and Red Bull engaging in a classic one-versus-two-stop-strategy battle, Hamilton vanquished in an enthralling contest around the Autódromo Hermanos Rodríguez.
Despite his victory over Vettel and team-mate Valtteri Bottas, the Briton was unable to increase his championship lead enough to take the drivers’ championship at his first attempt.
Bottas’ third place finish means Hamilton now requires just four points in the final three races to confirm a sixth championship.
After a robust opening to the race, with Hamilton tussling with Vettel and Max Verstappen in the opening corners, Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc led the opening segment ahead of team-mate Vettel, Red Bull’s Alex Albon and the two Mercedes of Hamilton and Bottas.
Red Bull’s Max Verstappen ran wide at turn two as a result of his opening lap contest with Hamilton and eventually picked up a puncture against Bottas. This sent Verstappen to the back of the pack and the Dutchman spent the entire race recovering to a points finish.
With Red Bull’s Alex Albon being the first of the leaders to pit, his early pit stop cornered him into a two-stop strategy. Early race leader Leclerc was the only driver to react to this and also commit to the strategy.
That left Vettel, Hamilton and Bottas to run one-stop strategies, with Hamilton making his sole stop much earlier than the others, undercutting his competitors, and putting him ahead after the pit stops and in the lead of the race after all of the pit stops had been completed.
In the final twenty laps of the race, Hamilton led Vettel and Bottas by four seconds, with Leclerc having to recover a ten-second deficit in fourth place.
The gaps closed up, and the top four were covered by just 6.3 seconds at the chequered flag, but no driver had enough of a pace advantage to make any overtaking attempts in the final laps of the race, and the top four remained unchanged.
Alex Albon’s podium challenge fizzled out through the second pit stops, but completed a strong drive to fifth place nevertheless, 47 seconds ahead of his recovering team-mate Verstappen.
Sergio Perez was the first midfield driver to start on the medium tyres, and duly took advantage of the optimal strategy to take seventh place, fending off a rapid Daniel Ricciardo in the closing laps.
Renault’s Ricciardo completed a fine ‘alternate’ strategy after being the only driver to start on the hard tyres and convert to mediums for his second stint, finishing eighth.
Daniil Kvyat was the only ‘midfielder’ to start in the top ten and score a point. The Toro Rosso driver executed a two-stop strategy to take ninth place, but only after tangling with Renault’s Nico Hulkenberg on the final corner of the race, which incurred a ten-second time penalty.
Kvyat’s penalty promoted Toro Rosso’s Pierre Gasly to ninth, and Hulkenberg’s wounded Renault into tenth place.