Max Verstappen Wins, Sergio Pérez Becomes 1st Mexican To Score Podium At Mexico Grand Prix
It was a great weekend for Mexico as Sergio Pérez became the first hometown driver to land on the podium with a third place finish at the Formula 1 Mexico Grand Prix Sunday. The day was sweet as pan dulce for Red Bull as Checo's teammate, Max Verstappen, cruised to his third victory, giving him the record for most wins at the circuit.
"Having Checo as a teammate, coming 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, really nice to be here," Verstappen said.
The weekend, which included a TKO win by boxer Canelo Álvarez on Saturday in Las Vegas, was inundated with chants for Pérez, who Red Bull gave a mariachi suit to don for a fan exhibition and a special helmet featuring the Mexican flag for the race. His father and son joined the team on the track to enjoy the post-race celebrations. Besides the landmark podium, Pérez was the first Mexican driver to lead the grand prix when he did so midway through the contest.
"It's an unbelievable day," he shared. "Obviously I wanted more, you know, today, I wanted to get the 1-2 for the team. It was very close, but I didn't have a single chance to get through. Still, I gave my full heart for these people."
Verstappen and Pérez came from behind after qualifying P3 and P4 respectively. Mercedes had a lockout on the front row. Valtteri Bottas scored pole and was awarded the Fangio Helmet, a prize honoring the 70th anniversary of Juan Manuel Fangio's first driver's championship. Lewis Hamilton qualified P2 and finished in the same position.
The race started off rocky as Bottas was clipped by Daniel Ricciardo, who locked up and swerved into the Mercedes driver. Bottas spun out and Yuki Tsunoda and Mick Schumacher were caught in the chaos, forcing them to retire.
It was all Verstappen from there as he improved his lead over Hamilton in the driver's championship to 19 points. Pérez was on Hamilton's neck, chasing the 7-time champion closely much to the excitement of the crowd.
"Their car is far superior this weekend and there's nothing we really could do about it," Hamilton said, reflecting on how his rival raced ahead on the first lap and didn't look back, finishing 16 seconds ahead. "I gave it absolutely everything and even obviously a great fight with Sergio at the end, but I'm really grateful I was able to at least get a second."
Bottas struggled the rest of the race as he slid down to the back of the grid after the Lap 1 incident and being stuck behind Ricciardo for much of the race. A shaky 11-second pit stop didn't help his effort and he was relegated to fastest lap duties at the end of the race and a 15th place finish. The single point has Mercedes retaining a razor-thin lead over Red Bull in the constructor's championship.
Ricciardo finished 12th and his McLaren teammate Lando Norris put forth a valiant effort as he finished in points at 10th. He raced from the back of the grid with an engine penalty to get back to the position he originally qualified in.
Pierre Gasly finished in 4th ahead of both Ferrari drivers. Kimi Räikkönen and George Russell battled midway through the race for 10th, with the veteran winning out. Russell then fell as Fernando Alonso passed him as did Lance Stroll, who crashed in qualifying and needed something positive in his day. Russell ended up 16th as he and Williams teammate Nicholas Latifi (who finished 17th) failed to score points.
The next race is November 12-14 at the Brazilian Grand Prix.
Listen to the Mexico GP episode of "Fun with F1" below: