Mexican mastery from Red Bull Racing Honda
Max Verstappen roared to his ninth win of the year with a powerful, controlled drive to victory at the Mexico City Grand Prix, as Sergio ‘Checo’ Pérez put in a brilliant performance to take third place behind Mercedes’ Lewis Hamilton and claim the Team’s third double podium in a row.
When the lights went out Max got a good start from third place on the grid and on the long run to turn one, received a powerful tow from Hamilton. He drew alongside the Brit and as they went into the first corner he braked later and hung on around the outside to take the lead. Valtteri Bottas spun out in his Mercedes midway through the corner which also allowed Checo to slip through to third place ahead.
Max then made his sole pit stop at the end of lap 33, taking on hard tyres in a rapid 2.2 seconds. That promoted Checo into the lead of his home grand prix, claiming history by becoming the first Mexican to lead a lap at his home race. When Max re-joined in second place, he was 7.5s clear of Hamilton in third.
Sergio extended his stint to the end of lap 40 and after a quick switch to hard tyres he returned to the track in third place, 9.9s behind Hamilton, but with tyres that were 11 laps newer. The Mexican quickly began to eat into the deficit and by lap 50 he was six seconds adrift of the Briton.
At the front, Max was racing serenely towards the flag and 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 – the most by any Formula One driver.
On his win, Max Verstappen commented “It was an incredible day for the Team and also for the fans, to have Checo on the podium here in Mexico at his home Grand Prix was great, so it couldn’t have been better.
“I knew the start was very important today, we were three wide at one point and I was on the more ideal race line so I could brake later and get into the lead. After that I could do my own thing, the pace was very good today so I could just keep building and creating a gap, the pit stops were seamless and the car was good throughout the race which was crucial today.
“Checo, for the last few races has really picked it up, he’s been up there and he was really pressuring Lewis today towards the end. I’m still not thinking about that trophy, we’ll try again in Brazil and just keep pushing.”
Despite exerting serious pressure on the Mercedes British Driver in the latter stages of the GP, Checo couldn’t find a way past and Hamilton took second place ahead of the Red Bull Racing Honda driver who became the first Mexican to score a podium finish at his home race.
Discussing his third place, Sergio Perez said: “This is a great result for my country, I really wanted more but unfortunately we didn’t get that. It was so messy in turn one so to avoid incident there was critical and then I wanted second place, but we didn’t get the chance because it is just so difficult to overtake around here. I was really close to getting Lewis but the Mercedes are so quick on the straight lines so I didn’t get a opportunity to go for it but I gave my best.
“I could feel the fans energy when I was going through the stadium sector and I was thinking about how many people were here for me, I could actually hear the crowd when I was driving through Foro Sol. I wanted more but I am just very happy to be on the podium of my home country, the Mexicans were so happy today.
“We are so competitive as drivers that when we finish third we aren’t happy but today I had to enjoy it, everyone who has been there since the start with me was there at the end of the race and that was an amazing moment for me. I think today we were the fastest Team but that is going to swing around for the remainder of the season, so we just have to keep our focus and keep pushing.”
Max’s win means he now has a 19-point lead over Hamilton with four races remaining, Checo’s third podium in a row means he is now only 20 points behind Bottas in the Drivers Standings. The double podium finish means the team is now just a single point behind Mercedes in the Constructors’ Championship.
Commenting on the race, Team Principal Christian Horner exclaimed: “Today was a big race and a big team win. It was a flawless performance from the entire team, from drivers to pitstops to strategy to reliability, it was a really strong team performance.
“Max was phenomenal again today, he found some space at turn one, and I have to say Bottas was very fair and allowed him enough space, and Max made the most of it and was then able to control the race. It’s the first time Honda have had a driver win nine races in a year, as Max was tied with Senna on eight, so that’s a great achievement for him and Honda.
“What a weekend it has been for Checo, the first Mexican to lead the home Grand Prix and first to finish on the podium, his third in as many races, is really special. He’s found his confidence in the car and his performances are getting stronger and stronger, it’s exactly what we were hoping for from him.
Next up is Brazil where it’s a sprint race and we still haven’t won a sprint race weekend yet. We saw how competitive Mercedes were this weekend, particularly in qualifying, so we are taking nothing for granted. There are still 107 points available, it’s a long way to go and there’s a lot of racing left.”
As part of the technical partnership with Red Bull Racing, ExxonMobil develops products to cope with all racing conditions. To this end, a consideration when developing products this year has been the introduction of sprint qualification, which returns this weekend at the Brazilian GP for the third and final time.
The paddock now travels south to Interlagos, Brazil for the last race in the Americas this year before heading to the Middle East for the remaining three races of the calendar. The 2021 season is one of the most competitive in recent years and ExxonMobil continue to help Red Bull Racing Honda fight in the Drivers and Constructors Standings.