Mexico City Grand Prix | Verstappen wins to extend F1 lead
Seven-time world champion Hamilton finished second for Mercedes, fending off Red Bull’s Sergio Perez, who became the first Mexican to climb to his home podium
Red Bull’s Max Verstappen celebrated a dominant victory in the Mexico City Grand Prix on Sunday to take a 19-point lead over Lewis Hamilton in the Formula One Championship with four races to go.
Seven-time world champion Hamilton finished second for Mercedes, edging out Red Bull’s Sergio Perez, who became the first Mexican to step onto his home podium in a jubilant Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez.
Red Bull has reduced the gap with Mercedes in the constructors’ standings by one point.
“It’s still a long way to go but it sure looks, but it can also change very quickly,” said Verstappen, 24, of his big step forward in the championship battle.
The championship leader took the lead in the first corner from third on the grid, having been three abreast with the two Mercedes, and gave Hamilton no chance of retaliating once the initial period of the safety car completed.
“I gave absolutely everything and it was a great fight with Sergio at the end, I was able to at least finish second,” said Hamilton.
Perez was hoisted high on the shoulders of his mechanics as he waved the Mexican flag to greet the crowd ahead of the podium ceremony.
“Of course I wanted more, I wanted to get a brace for the team but I didn’t have a single chance to pass,” he said after his third consecutive podium after third places in Texas and Turkey.
Verstappen took the checkered flag 16.555 seconds ahead of Hamilton to seal his ninth victory of the season, the third in Mexico and the 19th of his career.
The safety car was deployed until the fourth lap after a collision at the start between Mick Schumacher of Haas and Yuki Tsunoda of AlphaTauri, while Daniel Ricciardo of McLaren hit the back of Valtteri Bottas’ Mercedes and lost his front wing.
Bottas, who took a surprise pole position on Saturday, turned around and fell to 18th place after an immediate pit stop.
The Finn finished 15th but stopped for new tires to snatch Verstappen’s fastest lap at the end, depriving the Dutchman of a valuable bonus point without it going to Mercedes as he was out of the top 10.