Verstappen takes record victory in Mexico

Verstappen takes record victory in Mexico

October 31, 2022

Hamilton second ahead of Sergio Pérez

Red Bull’s Max Verstappen became the first driver in the history of Formula One to score a total of 14 victories in a single season as the record books just keep tumbling for the Dutchman after yet another dominating display in Mexico City which saw the reigning World champion secure another commanding win. Verstappen finished comfortably ahead of Mercedes Lewis Hamilton and his own teammate Sergio Pérez while the second Mercedes of George Russell was fourth ahead of the Ferrari pair of Carlos Sainz and Charles Leclerc. McLaren’s Daniel Ricciardo was a stunning seventh with Alpine’s Esteban Ocon eighth, Lando Norris ninth and Alfa Romeo’s Valtteri Bottas rounding up the points scoring places. 

With the win in Mexico, Verstappen now has also scored the most points in a single season, overtaking Hamilton’s tally of 413 set in 2019. While Red Bull have the Constructors’ secured, the fight for second place goes on as Mercedes’ third and fourth place finishes have brought down that second place gap between Ferrari and themselves to only 40 points. Even without a single win in the season, the Silver Arrows continued to make progress and could finish a shocking second place in the championship without winning a single race in the season. 

Pole-sitter Verstappen got off perfectly, knowing that there were two quick Silver Arrows behind him and the room for error was none. While Verstappen got off well, Hamilton and Russell fought for track position and Hamilton squeezed Russell wide in the opening lap, which saw Sergio Pérez capitalise and inherit third position from Russell. Further back both the Aston Martins, Sebastian Vettel and Lance Stroll made up places on the opening lap with Stroll making a commendable five places in the opening lap. Verstappen after zooming off the line, made sure that he extended his lead and by lap 5 he was not only out of DRS range from Hamilton in second place but almost two seconds clear. Pérez was on the hunt for second place with Russell following suit behind him. 

While Verstappen led comfortably at the top, there was action further down the grid as Lance Stroll and AlphaTauri’s Pierre Gasly came together with the Frenchman forcing Stroll off the track for 15th place, which eventually resulted in a five-second time penalty for Gasly. Sergio Pérez was the first of the front-runners to pit on lap 24, and the home-hero rejoined in sixth place behind Charles Leclerc following a unusually slow stop by the Red Bull crew. Race leader Max Verstappen came in for his first and what would be only stop of the race on lap 26, and following a swift stop by the Red Bull crew this time, he joined the track in third place, behind Hamilton who inherited the lead of the race and George Russell. Hamilton eventually came in for his stop on lap 31, switching to the hard compounds, unlike Red Bull who sent both of their drivers out on the mediums. With Hamilton making his scheduled stop, Russell led from Verstappen while Sergio Pérez was in fourth as the two Ferraris headed into the pits on lap 33. Russell did eventually pit on lap 35 and also switched to the hards and that meant Verstappen retook the lead of the race. 

After retaking the lead of the race on lap 35, Verstappen built up a 10 second gap to Hamilton by lap 49, with the Mercedes having no answer to Red Bull’s pace especially on a different tyre set. While it was smooth sailing up ahead, the race got its first retiree on lap 54 as AlphaTauri’s Yuki Tsunoda was hit by Daniel Ricciardo which eventually left the young Japanese driver with too much damage on his car to continue on with. Ricciardo received a 10 second time penalty for causing a collision. By lap 60, Verstappen was leading Hamilton by over 12 seconds and the seven-time world champion had other issues as Sergio Pérez was right on his tail. While Hamilton managed to keep Pérez at bay, a bit down the grid, Fernando Alonso’s terrible luck continued as he suffered yet another retirement due to an engine failure. With Alonso’s car being stuck at turn one, the Virtual safety car was deployed. 

Up ahead, Verstappen cruised to victory with no one near to challenge him and given how dominant he has been throughout the season, it was inevitable that he would break Michael Schumacher and Sebastian Vettel’s record of 13 wins in a single season. While Verstappen already has a record 416 points for the season, his teammate’s third place finish sees Sergio Pérez retake second place in the Drivers’ standing from Charles Leclerc while Hamilton’s second place finish sees the Brit move to fifth place in the standings above Ferrari’s Carlos Sainz. While Ferrari’s second place in the Constructors’ is under threat as Mercedes continue to eat into that lead, McLaren’s double points finish means that the British team are now just seven points behind Alpine in the Constructors’ championship. Valtteri Bottas’ crucial points finish also sees Alfa Romeo move four points clear of Aston Martin in that tight P6 battle in the Constructors’. 

After a somewhat slow burner of a race in Mexico, racing resumes in two weeks time in Brazil as we head for the season’s penultimate race. 

Aditya Chaudhuri

Hailing from the City of Joy, the things that bring me joy are cricket, a good non-tilt CS:GO session, F1 and movies.

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