Photo: Peter Fox (Getty Images)

Verstappen Wins With Bold First Corner Overtake In Mexico City

by · Jalopnik

The FIA Formula One World Championship began its season-concluding stretch of 5 races over the next 6 weeks with the Mexico City Grand Prix. Yes, the race has a new name. Though, the venue remains the same. It was expected that the high altitude of Autódromo Hermanos Rodríguez would provide the Honda-powered cars of Red Bull Racing over its rivals Mercedes-AMG Petronas. However, Mercedes would secure both positions on the front row with Valtteri Bottas winning pole.

The start would prove to be the most crucial moment of the race. On the long straight down to turn 1, Lewis Hamilton as well as Red Bull’s Max Verstappen from third would pull alongside Bottas. All three drivers approached the first corner side-by-side with the Red Bull driver being the last to brake. Verstappen overtook both Mercedes drivers around the outside of the first corner. Bottas spun out exiting the corner after contact from behind with Daniel Ricciardo of McLaren.

Screenshot: Formula One Management

Chaos ensued as the rest of the field attempted to make their way around Bottas. Haas’s Mick Schumacher and Alpha Tauri’s Yuki Tsunoda were forced to retire from the race after both drivers made wheel-to-wheel contact with Alpine’s Esteban Ocon. The safety car was deployed to retrieve their cars, then the race was restarted on the fifth lap.

Verstappen gradually extended his lead to eight seconds over the first third of the race. Lewis Hamilton pitted for hard compound tires on Lap 30, then rejoined fifth just behind Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc. Hamilton would only spend a lap behind Leclerc as the Ferrari driver entered pit-lane the next lap. Verstappen also pitted for hard tires on Lap 33. He would rejoin in second behind his teammate Sergio Pérez, retaining his large gap ahead of his Mercedes rival.

After leading his home race for seven laps, Pérez pitted at the end of lap 40. This was the first time that a Mexican driver led a F1 grand prix in the country. While Max Verstappen drove away from the field, the race’s second half focused on the shrinking gap between Hamilton and Pérez. The Red Bull mounted a serious threat to Hamilton with the final ten laps of the 71-lap race.

The home crowd loudly cheered on Sergio Pérez, but he was unable to pass Hamilton. Max Verstappen would win the race with Hamilton second and Pérez third. Alpha Tauri’s Pierre Gasly finished fourth with Charles Leclerc and Carlos Sainz of Ferrari finishing fifth and sixth respectively. Verstappen leads the drivers’ championship by 19 points over Hamilton. Formula One will return next week in Brazil.