Formula 1: Mexican Grand Prix


Mexico was a thrill for Max Verstappen. (Courtesy of Twitter)

Over the weekend, Formula 1 continued its 2022 season as they went to the Autódromo Hermanos Rodríguez for the Mexican Grand Prix. Despite both the drivers’ and constructors’ championships already wrapped up, there is still a lot on the line for the other teams as they fight for places that could mean millions in prize money.

When it was time for qualifying, Max Verstappen was able to place his Red Bull on pole position, followed by the Mercedes duo of George Russell and Lewis Hamilton in second and third, respectively. Verstappen’s teammate Sergio Perez qualified in fourth. With it being his home race, the Mexican wanted to get on the podium for his home crowd. Before the lights went out, both Red Bulls were on soft tires with the Mercedes duo on mediums. The mediums are slower but are more durable, meaning that this would be a battle both on the track and on the pitwall, specifically in the strategy departments as they would try and get their gameplan on the money to secure the win.

When the lights went out, Verstappen got away cleanly and he was able to stay in the lead as the grid raced to turn one. Russell also got away cleanly but when he approached turns one and two, Hamilton was able to get past his teammate into second. After turn three, Perez was able to get a better exit and overtook Russell to the delight of the crowd. Verstappen started to build a gap but Hamilton was able to keep himself in touching distance, with Perez doing the same to Hamilton.

On lap 23, Perez was the first of the front runners to pit. With a slow stop of five seconds, he emerged sixth behind the Ferrari duo of Carlos Sainz and Charles Leclerc. On lap 25, Verstappen pitted from the lead and came back out in third, behind both Mercedes drivers. On lap 29, Hamilton similarly pitted while in front and emerged back onto the track in third. The critical thing here is that Hamilton put on hard tires which are the slowest but most durable with both Red Bulls going onto mediums instead. 

Russell was now leading from Verstappen, then Hamilton and then Perez who was absolutely flying and gaining on the seven time world champion. On lap 34, Russell pitted from the lead, equipped hard tires and came back onto the track in fourth. With both Mercedes’ on the hard tires, they were betting that the mediums on the Red Bull would start to lose performance, giving Mercedes the advantage to overtake them and win the race. However it didn’t look like the mediums were going to falter with Verstappen having a 10-second gap to Hamilton who had Perez for company.

On lap 51, far away from the front runners, there was a collision between Daniel Ricciardo’s McLaren and Yuki Tsunoda’s Alpha Tauri. Ricciardo tried to make a move on the inside at turn five, with Tsunoda being forced to retire and Ricciardo being handed a 10 second time penalty for the incident. 

Back at the front, Verstappen was cruising to the win and it was clear that Mercedes may have gotten it wrong. Hamilton was unable to cut into Verstappen’s lead but he was keeping Perez at bay. On lap 65, a virtual safety car was called for the retirement of the Alpine of Fernando Alonso. This gave a late twist by giving the option to either Red Bull or Mercedes drivers to pit for new tires. However, no one took up that offer and the green flag was quickly shown to resume the race.

After 71 laps, Verstappen won the Mexican Grand Prix with Hamilton a distant second and Perez rounding out the podium in third, equalling his result from last year. Verstappen dominated the entire weekend. With this victory, Verstappen made history becoming the first driver to win 14 races in a single season. Meanwhile, with Perez getting third and Leclerc finishing in sixth, Perez now has a five-point lead for second in the driver’s standings. Mercedes have also closed the gap to Ferrari in the constructor’s, reducing the gap to 40 points for second in the standings.

The next race is in Brazil for the iconic Brazilian Grand Prix. One thing to note is that the third and final sprint race will take place in Brazil, changing up the weekend schedule. Qualifying is now on Friday, the sprint race is on Saturday and the main race is still on Sunday. With two races to go, the teams and drivers can start to see the finish line to one of the longest seasons in history.