Red Bull’s Max Verstappen cruised to a record third career Mexico City Grand Prix victory ahead of Mercedes’ Lewis Hamilton and Red Bull team mate Sergio Perez – who became the first Mexican driver to take a Formula 1 podium at their home race.
"It's still a long way to go but it's of course looking good, but also it can turn around very quickly," said Verstappen, 24, of his big step forward in the championship battle.
The joy of Valtteri Bottas’s shock pole position was short-lived as Verstappen swept around the outside of the two Mercedes into the first corner on the opening lap. Bottas was then tipped into a spin by McLaren’s Daniel Ricciardo into Turn 2 to leave Verstappen leading Hamilton then Perez behind the Safety Car, which was called back for a Lap 5 race restart, as Bottas dropped to the back of the field.
Verstappen’s pace on the medium tyres – on which everyone bar Yuki Tsunoda and Esteban Ocon started – was superior to Hamilton’s in the opening stint. With the Briton losing time to the Dutchman and his team mate Perez, he pitted for hards on Lap 30 and Verstappen followed on Lap 34, emerging second to make Perez the first Mexican to lead his home race.
Perez would come in for new hard compounds on Lap 41, nine seconds behind Hamilton, and began to take chunks out of that gap to leave it at just one second on Lap 60 of 71. Huge cheers erupted when the crowds saw how close their home hero was to Hamilton and the Briton’s case wasn’t helped when he was told to lift and coast, but Perez couldn't make the pass and ended up third – just 1.1s behind Hamilton – despite having hard tyres that were 11 laps newer than the Mercedes driver's.
As for Bottas, he was stopped on Lap 66 for soft tyres, unlapped himself on Lap 68, but could not take fastest lap away from Verstappen. He pitted again for another new set of softs with a lap remaining, and snatched away the fastest lap from the Red Bull championship leader, before finishing 15th overall.
Pierre Gasly qualified P5 but finished a comfortable fourth after Bottas's spin, while Carlos Sainz took sixth behind Charles Leclerc (P5) in the race, the Spaniard losing out to his Ferrari team mate at the start.
Sebastian Vettel took seventh for Aston Martin, ahead of Alfa Romeo's Kimi Raikkonen in P8.
Fernando Alonso took ninth for Alpine having started 12th, but was hampered by a slow Lap 40 pit stop. That left Lando Norris 10th from 18th, the McLaren driver having made it to P7 by Lap 45, when he pitted from mediums to hards.
Norris's team mate Ricciardo, however, could only take 12th after Lap 1 contact ruined his hopes of scoring points from P7 on the grid and promoted Leclerc, Vettel and Raikkonen a place apiece.
"It's incredible. I mean, of course having Checo [Perez] as your team mate coming here to Mexico is amazing, but even before that already, all the time the fans here, they've been incredible, they love Formula 1, so it's really nice to be here.
"It's a long way to go [in the championship], but it's of course looking good, but also it can turn around very quickly. But I'm looking forward to Brazil. I have also good memories there" – Max Verstappen, Red Bull.
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Alan Baldwin of Reuters shares a recap:
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Alex Hess shares the lap by lap: