Verstappen wins Mexico GP to extend F1 lead over Hamilton

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Max Verstappen flew past his Mercedes rivals at the start to win the Mexican Grand Prix on Sunday in a another step towards a first Formula One world title.

The high-altitude track in Mexico City was said to favour the Red Bulls of Verstappen and Sergio Perez but Mercedes duo Valtteri Bottas and Lewis Hamilton had surprisingly beaten them in qualifying to lock out the first row on the grid.

But Verstappen had a sensational start to snatch the lead into turn one and he never looked back to win for the eighth time in the season and 19th overall ahead of Hamilton and Perez who climbed the podium in third in his home race on the Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez.

Dutchman Verstappen increased his championship lead over seven-time champion Hamilton to 19 points with his third Mexico win, almost a full victory worth 25 points ahead heading into next week’s fourth-last season race in Brazil.

“It was all about just trying to brake as late as you can,” Verstappen said of the start.

“I kept it on the track, came from third to first and that was basically what made my race because I could just focus on myself, and we had incredible pace in the car.”

“There’s still a long way to go. It’s of course looking good but also it can turn around very quickly.”

Hamilton admitted “there was nothing we could really do” about Red BUll’s superiority.

“I gave it absolutely everything and it was a great fight with Sergio at the end, I was able to at least get second,” he said.

Bottas and Hamilton started well when the lights went out but were comprehensively upstaged by Verstappen who made the most of the tow on the long straight into turn one as he passed his rivals on the outside for the lead.

Bottas’ misery was complete when he was sent spinning in the opening turn when clipped by the McLaren of Daniel Ricciardo, who lost his front wing in the process and had to pit, while Bottas plunged from pole to 18th.

And the safety car was deployed because Yuki Tsunoda of Alpha Tauri and Haas driver Mick Schumacher had to retire after further contact early on and their cars had to be moved away.

Verstappen handily won the restart into lap 5 and quickly opened up a gap over Hamilton.

The order did not change through the pit stops although Perez hunted down Hamilton towards the end but the champion managed to stay ahead, helped a little by traffic.

“It’s an unbelievable day,” Perez said while conceding that “of course I wanted more, I wanted to get a one-two for the team but I didn’t have a single chance to get through.”

Pierre Gasly was fourth for Alpha Tauri, ahead of Ferrari drivers Carlos Sainz and Charles Leclerc, and ex-champ Sebastian Vettel seventh for Aston Martin. Bottas placed 14th but at the death denied Verstappen an extra point for fastest lap.

Dpa

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