Red Bull Racing’s Max Verstappen extended his 2021 FIA Formula One World Championship lead over Lewis Hamilton to 19 points with a controlled drive to victory ahead of the Mercedes driver at the Mexico City Grand Prix as Sergio Pérez claimed third place to become the first Mexican driver to stand on the podium at his home race.
When the lights went out Verstappen got a good start from third place on the grid and on the long run to Turn 1 he got a powerful tow from Hamilton. He drew alongside the Briton and as they went into the first corner he braked later and hung on around that outside to take the lead. His rise to the front was aided by Valtteri Bottas spinning out midway through the corner after the Finnish polesitter was tagged by McLaren’s Daniel Ricciardo. That allowed Pérez to take third place, through the Mexican had to take evasive action when Bottas spun to his right.
Further back AlphaTauri’s Yuki Tsunoda and Haas’ Mick Schumacher were involved in a collision and with the cars stranded at the side of the track the safety car was deployed.
When racing resumed four laps later, Verstappen comfortably held his advantage as the safety car left the track and he quickly settled into his first stint.
And by lap 19 the Dutch driver had pulled out an almost seven-second gap to Hamilton. Pérez stuck close to the Mercedes driver, maintaining a two-second deficit as the race edged into the pit window for a one-stop race.
At the end of a long first stint, Hamilton was the first to blink and he headed towards the pity lane at the end of lap 29. He took on hard tires in a 2.4s stop and rejoined in P5 behind Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc.
The Monegasque driver made his visit to the pit lane on the next lap and then Gasly pitted from third place. That freed Hamilton and he began setting purple laps. On lap 32 he was 17 seconds behind second-placed Pérez.
Verstappen then made his sole pit stop at the end of 33, taking on hard tires. That promoted Pérez into the lead of his home grand prix and when Verstappen rejoined in second place he was 7.5s clear of Hamilton in third.
Pérez extended his stint to end of lap 40 and after switching to hard tires he rejoined in third place, 9.9s behind Hamilton, but with tires that were 11 laps newer. The Mexican quickly began to reduce the deficit and by lap 50 he was six seconds adrift of the Briton.
At the front, Verstappen was racing comfortably towards the flag and on lap 53 he set the fastest lap of the race with a time of 1:18.999. That opened the gap to Hamilton to 13 seconds and the Dutchman then began to manage his pace as he marched to his 19th career win and his third in Mexico City overall.
Behind him, Pérez was still clawing back the gap to Hamilton and by lap 56 the Mexican was 2.8s behind the Mercedes driver. Over the course of the next 10 laps he gradually reeled in the Mercedes but despite a speculative look to the outside of the Mercedes in Turn 4 on the final lap, he couldn’t find a way past and Hamilton took second place ahead of the Red Bull driver who became the first Mexican to score a podium finish at his home race.
Behind Pérez, fourth place went to AlphaTauri’s Pierre Gasly and the Frenchman’s 12 points put the Italian squad level with Alpine on 106 points in the battle for fifth place in the Constructors’ Championship.
Ferrari took fifth and sixth places with Leclerc ahead of Sainz, while Sebastian Vettel took seventh place fort Aston Martin. Kimi Räikkonen scored four valuable points for Alfa Romeo with eighth place, ninth place went to Alpine’s Fernando Alonso and the final point on offer went to McLaren’s Lando Norris.
Verstappen’s win means he now has a 19-point lead over Hamilton with four races remaining. The double podium finish means Red Bull Racing are now just a single point behind Mercedes in the Constructors’ Championship.
2021 FIA Formula 1 Mexico City Grand Prix – Race
1 Max Verstappen Red Bull/Honda 71 1:38’39.086
2 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 71 1:38’55.641 16.555
3 Sergio Pérez Red Bull/Honda 71 1:38’56.838 17.752
4 Pierre Gasly AlphaTauri/Honda 71 1:39’42.931 1’03.845
5 Charles Leclerc Ferrari 71 1:40’00.123 1’21.037
6 Carlos Sainz Ferrari 70 1:38’41.516 1 lap /2.430
7 Sebastian Vettel Aston Martin/Mercedes 70 1:38’49.144 1 lap /10.058
8 Kimi Räikkönen Alfa Romeo/Ferrari 70 1:38’54.245 1 lap /15.159
9 Fernando Alonso Alpine/Renault 70 1:39’02.775 1 lap /23.689
10 Lando Norris McLaren/Mercedes 70 1:39’05.312 1 lap /26.226
11 Antonio Giovinazzi Alfa Romeo/Ferrari 70 1:39’40.085 1 lap /1’00.999
12 Daniel Ricciardo McLaren/Mercedes 70 1:39’40.975 1 lap /1’01.889
13 Esteban Ocon Alpine/Renault 70 1:39’52.459 1 lap /1’13.373
14 Lance Stroll Aston Martin/Mercedes 69 1:38’47.037 2 laps /7.951
15 Valtteri Bottas Mercedes 69 1:39’12.019 2 laps /32.933
16 George Russell Williams/Mercedes 69 1:39’17.888 2 laps /38.802
17 Nicholas Latifi Williams/Mercedes 69 1:39’32.376 2 laps /53.290
18 Nikita Mazepin Haas/Ferrari 68 1:39’26.403 3 laps /47.317
Mick Schumacher Haas/Ferrari 0 Collision
Yuki Tsunoda AlphaTauri/Honda 0 Collision