Mercedes´s driver Lewis Hamilton has won the F1 Mexican GP 2019, ahead of Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel and of his teammate, Valtteri Bottas, thanks to a sensational strategy by the Mercedes team. Pole holder Charles Leclerc and his SF90 had to settle for fourth after another poorly managed race by Ferrari.
A bad day as well for Spaniard Carlos Sainz, who was rolling in fourth during the initial stages of the race, but finished in the thirteenth position. The driver from Madrid had to deal with a number of battles on the track as well as with the low pace of his MCL34 on hard tires. All of the above, coupled with the fact that he started with soft tires, ruined his chances despite having started on the seventh position.
The German team has once again risen above the Italians at a track a priory more favourable to the red cars. Mercedes’ British star, Lewis Hamilton, can pretty much touch his sixth consecutive crown with his fingers, and it is fully expected that he will seal the deal next week in Austin.
Max Verstappen was the other great disappointment of the day. He couldn’t recover from a brush he suffered against Hamilton in the first corner, and which completely obliterated his chances of victory. The fastest driver of the weekend had to settle for sixth, again behind his teammate Alex Albon at the F1 Mexican GP 2019.
The start: Battle Hamilton vs Verstappen
The Ferraris of Leclerc and Vettel maintained their privileged starting positions as lights came off. A great achievement for both the red cars given the great distance to the first corner, ideal territory for overtaking aided by the slipstream of those ahead.
Numerous battles were breaking out behind the SF90s. In one of them, Hamilton lost control of his car in turn 1 and hit Verstappen. The Dutchman took a trip on the grass falling to eighth place as a result, while the Briton came out unscathed. A Virtual Safety Car was called out until lap three at the F1 Mexican GP 2019.
Only two laps later, Verstappen, angered by what had happened, punctured a tire after an aggressive pass on Bottas. He kept on the track with his RB15 until he lost the tyre completely.
Unaware of what was going on behind them, both the Ferraris kept ahead at cruising speed, that is, mindful of preserving their tyres. Albon was able to make the most of the circumstances and chased them three seconds behind.
Early stop for Leclerc
A key moment in the unfolding of the race happened on lap 16. Leclerc made his first pit stop to mount on medium compounds again. Ferrari’s two-stop strategy had just sentenced the reds to fail. In a bit of a gambler’s move, they decided not to stop Vettel so soon. The German would attempt to perform a single stop at the F1 Mexican GP 2019.
Then came the master move of the cunning Mercedes’ pit wall. They kept Lewis on the asphalt eight more laps, a decisive time that proved crucial for the fate of the race. The team from Brackley had decided to delay their driver’s visit to pits. They had crucially realised that the tires were degrading less than expected and had designed out a classic undercut on Vettel.
Ferrari’s mistake mid-race
Mid-race, Ferrari’s German driver, was confidently on the lead of the Mexican GP ahead of Bottas, Leclerc and Hamilton. In turn 36, however, Mercedes sent their Finn driver to pits. It was a clear warning for Vettel to emulate the move, but the red car remained on track. Only two laps later, the #5 from Maranello had lost two very valuable seconds behind several cars.
Hamilton was by that point commanding the race, ahead of Vettel, Bottas and Leclerc. The latter, on soft fresh tires, made an attempt to join the leading trio but he just couldn’t get the pace. He made a final mistake at the 60th turn, ruining his meagre chances of a podium.
Positions would not change again and what could have been a Ferrari 1-2 became a first and third place for Hamilton and Bottas. Leclerc, exasperated by the ill-made decisions of his engineers, finished in fourth place. Albon took a sensational fifth position outperforming his head of ranks, Verstsappen. It was a bad weekend for #33 despite his great comeback from the bottom of the track.
Images: Mercedes AMG F1