2016 Mexican Grand Prix Race Review

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On Saturday, we saw Lewis Hamilton taking Pole Position for the Mexican Grand Prix ahead of Nico Rosberg and Max Verstappen.

The start of the Mexican GP. All rights reserved to Sutton Images.

The start of the Mexican GP. All rights reserved to Sutton Images.

The Mexican GP is underway. Nico Rosberg has a good start as does Fernando Alonso and Nico Hulkenberg who is in fourth place. But Lewis Hamilton has bogged down slightly but maintains his position despite locking up into the first corner and having to go off the circuit. At the back of the grid, Pascal Wehrlein and Marcus Ericsson make contact and Wehrlein comes off worst and has to retire from the race.

Lewis Hamilton leads the early stages of the Mexican GP. All rights reserved to Sutton Images.

Lewis Hamilton leads the early stages of the Mexican GP. All rights reserved to Sutton Images.

The Safety Car has now been deployed to clear the Manor off the circuit and many drivers now choose to pit (especially Vettel who has a puncture). The racing resumed on Lap 4 with Hamilton leading Rosberg by a second. The next lap sees Magnussen maintaining 12th place ahead of Jenson Button.

The stewards then announce on Lap 8 that no further action would be needed for the incident between Rosberg and Verstappen that happened on Lap 1. Meanwhile by Lap 8, there’s a battle between Massa and Vettel for sixth place. Two laps later sees Bottas struggling to keep Perez behind him who has the home ground cheering for their local boy.

By Lap 11, Hamilton has extended his lead to 3.4 seconds over Rosberg. Three laps later the stewards announce that the incident between Ericsson, Gutierrez and Wehrlein did not need any further action but the battle for fifth between Massa, Vettel, Bottas and Perez is heating up very nicely indeed.

Nico Rosberg leads the race on Lap 18. All rights reserved to Sutton Images.

Nico Rosberg leads the race on Lap 18. All rights reserved to Sutton Images.

Lap 18 sees Hamilton pit for new tyres and hands the lead of the race over his team mate Rosberg who leads the race over Raikkonen by 7.8 seconds. Three laps later sees Rosberg pitting for new tyres and hands the lead of the race to Vettel. But Rosberg is able to get back onto the track ahead of Ricciardo which is crucial to his strategy working.

Sebastian Vettel leads the race on Lap. All rights reserved to Sutton Images.

Sebastian Vettel leads the race on Lap 25. All rights reserved to Sutton Images.

Lap 25 see Vettel still leading the race ahead of Hamilton by 4.2 seconds as Massa and Perez battle for ninth place and into Turn 1, Perez went in too deep and couldn’t pass the Brazilian driver.

Sergio Perez catching Felipe Massa on Lap 30. All rights reserved to Sutton Images.

Sergio Perez catching Felipe Massa on Lap 30. All rights reserved to Sutton Images.

Five laps later, Perez is now starting to catch Massa for ninth place. Lap 33 sees Vettel pitting for new tyres and hands the lead back to Hamilton who is five seconds ahead of his team mate Rosberg who is trying to keep Verstappen at bay behind him.

Lewis Hamilton leading the race on Lap 45. All rights reserved to Sutton Images.

Lewis Hamilton leading the race on Lap 45. All rights reserved to Sutton Images.

By Lap 45, Hamilton still leads Rosberg by 3.7 seconds. On Lap 51, Verstappen tries to pass Rosberg for second place. However, Verstappen goes in too deep and Rosberg retains the place. There is now a battle between Hulkenberg and Raikkonen for sixth place.

Max Verstappen running in third place in the final laps of the race. All rights reserved to Sutton Images.

Max Verstappen running in third place in the final laps of the race. All rights reserved to Sutton Images.

Lap 61 sees Hamilton leading the race by 7.6 seconds ahead of Rosberg. There is the battle still ongoing with Hulkenberg and Raikkonen as Verstappen and Vettel battle for third place. Lap 67 sees Hulkenberg while defending against Raikkonen spun his car 180 degrees and has now lost sixth place.

Meanwhile, the battle between Verstappen and Vettel is heating up as Verstappen goes into the corner too deep, has to go off the circuit in order to get back onto the track and Vettel is now close enough to consider to pass the young Dutch driver but Verstappen needs to give the position back to Vettel even though the stewards will be investigating this after the race.

But on Lap 70, Ricciardo tries to pass Vettel for fourth place but Vettel moves his Ferrari to defend into the braking area and closes the door on the young Australian driver.

Lewis Hamilton wins the Mexican GP ahead of Nico Rosberg in second place and Sebastian Vettel in third place (But Daniel Ricciardo is now officially third). All rights reserved to Sutton Images.

Lewis Hamilton wins the Mexican GP ahead of Nico Rosberg in second place and Sebastian Vettel in third place (But Daniel Ricciardo is now officially third). All rights reserved to Sutton Images.

But Hamilton leads Rosberg on the final lap of the race by 8.3 seconds and wins the Mexican GP which is his first win at the circuit. This result maintains Rosberg’s lead in the championship and if Rosberg can win the Brazilian GP in two weeks time, Rosberg will be champion.

Rosberg is a credible second 8.3 seconds behind Hamilton, Ricciardo finished in a brilliant third place 20.8 seconds behind Hamilton, Verstappen was a credible fourth 21.3 seconds behind Hamilton and Vettel finished fifth 27.3 seconds behind Hamilton.

Raikkonen was sixth 49.3 seconds behind Hamilton, Hulkenberg was a brilliant seventh 58.1 seconds behind Hamilton, Bottas was eighth 1.05.6 seconds behind Hamilton, Massa was ninth 1.16.2 seconds lap behind Hamilton and Perez was tenth 1.16.7 seconds behind Hamilton.

Following the end of the race, Verstappen was immediately penalised five seconds, therefore promoting Vettel to third and dropping Verstappen to fifth place. But in a bizarre turn of events, Verstappen had already pulled into the podium area in the stadium section before the penalty was confirmed, but was told to leave the podium green room soon after as Vettel was brought back from the paddock to take his rightful place on the third step.

The story continued after the race, as Vettel was investigated for the Ricciardo incident. The stewards eventually handed Vettel a ten-second penalty, dropping him behind both Red Bull drivers, meaning that it was actually Ricciardo who finished on the final step of the podium.

It comes after the FIA issued a clampdown on drivers moving under braking ahead of the United States Grand Prix, a change that was referenced in the stewards’ statement as follows:-

‘Notwithstanding the F1 Commission directive to “let the drivers race” we note the concern that has been expressed about manoeuvres involving a change of direction under braking as expressed at the drivers briefing at the US Grand Prix and in the race director’s notes from the US Grand Prix and this event.

‘The telemetry and video evidence shows that the driver of car 5 did change direction under braking. Article 27.5 and the race director’s notes have essentially three criteria that determine a breach: driving in a manner potentially dangerous, an abnormal change of direction and another driver having to take evasive action.

‘The video footage, including the close circuit footage, the broadcast vision, both drivers’ on board cameras plus the telemetry show that there was an abnormal change of direction by car 5 and this was considered to be potentially dangerous in view of the proximity of the wheels of each car.

‘The video evidence clearly shows that car 3 had to take evasive action as a result. Accordingly as all three criteria have been met, the driver of car 5 is guilty of a breach of article 27.5.’

Vettel now has six points on his superlicence, with any driver who accrues 12 over a rolling 12-month period receiving a one-race ban.

Nico Rosberg leads the Driver’s Championship with 349 points, Lewis Hamilton is in second place with 330 points, Daniel Ricciardo in third place with 242 points, Sebastian Vettel is in fourth place with 17 8points, Kimi Raikkonen is in fifth place with 178 points,  Max Verstappen is in sixth place with 177 points, Sergio Perez is in seventh place with 85 points, Valtteri Bottas is in eighth place with 85 points, Nico Hulkenberg is in ninth place with 60 points and Fernando Alonso is in tenth place with 52 points.

Mercedes are the Constructors Champions with 679 points, Red Bull is in second place with 427 points, Ferrari is in third place with 365 points, Force India is in fourth place with 145 points, Williams is in fifth place with 136 points, McLaren is in sixth place with 74 points, Toro Rosso is in seventh place with 55 points, Haas is in eighth place with 29 points, Renault is in ninth place with 8 points and Manor is in tenth with 1 point.

Conclusion

I feel that McLaren have had an disappointing weekend with both Alonso and Button as they just did not have the pace and performance needed to score some points in Mexico. This is the best the team could have hoped for and I am not happy with their performance this weekend.  But McLaren have shown that despite their best efforts that the McLaren team have a lot of work to do in order to try and extract performance from their car but they are making small gains that are paying off for them in the last few races and they need to use this as inspiration for Brazil in a few weeks time.

Massa and Perez had some battles to finish in tenth and ninth places yesterday. They both battled with  for most of the race and they both deserved to get a point for their efforts on Sunday and it will help his confidence and also Williams and Force Indias’ for the next few races as a result.

Bottas had another solid drive to eighth place on Sunday and bringing home much needed points. He has a solid run of form recently and this will help his confidence to end his season on a high.

Hulkenberg had a bit of an action packed yet defensive race to finish seventh, but he scored more points for the Force India team who seem to be extracting a little bit more pace and performance out of their package. But there is still a lot of work to be done but the fact that Hulkenberg scored points again shows that he can deliver on the track.

Raikkonen did a good job to get sixth place and had a battle to get there. He drove a solid race  despite and he did a great job to secure some much needed points for his team after a good performance this weekend and it is clear that the car was working well for them as a result. This will only help him prepare for the rest of the 2016 season.

Vettel did a good job to get fifth place. He drove a solid race  despite what’s happened after the race and he did a great job to secure some much needed points for his team after a good performance this weekend and it is clear that the car was working well for them as a result. This will only help him prepare for the rest of the 2016 season.

Verstappen had a credible race to finish in fourth. It is a result that Verstappen needed after a tough few races and he should be happy; especially gaining the position during the race. He drove superbly but in a race where many expected him to finish and to maintain the momentum he has so far, he has managed to gain some points for the team and put himself in good stead for the rest of the 2016 season.

Ricciardo deserves a mention and has to be my driver of the day. He drove a solid race to third place and battled his way through to get these points. Just a damage limitation performance and the Mercedes team and showing that he cannot be discounted on putting in the best performance on the track, even when the odds are against him.

Rosberg drove a solid race to finish second today. He may not have had the race he wanted; and didn’t have a chance to try and get past but he did a great job to secure a podium yesterday. And once again, luck helped him achieve this but he was in the position to keep his lead in the championship.

All that is left to say about this race is that Hamilton deserved to win at Mexico and he needed to in order to show that he cannot be discounted as a driver.  His driving was brilliant and controlled throughout the race and now is in a better position to win the title. All credit to Lewis for doing a superb job this weekend and winning his first race in Mexico.

With the Brazilian GP in a two weeks time, if this season will be Rosberg’s at last or can Hamilton stop him winning the title? But what is for certain is that Formula One is building up rather nicely.

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