Max Verstappen dominated old rival Lewis Hamilton to win the Mexico City Grand Prix and break the record for most wins in a season.
The Dutchman got the perfect start from pole to hold the lead through the first three turns from George Russell and Hamilton, who started second and third but squabbled between themselves in the Red Bull’s slipstream.
Hamilton passed Russell, who was then demoted to fourth by Sergio Perez, leaving Verstappen to establish a 1.3s gap by the end of the lap. Hamilton kept him honest without threatening a pass, keeping him within 2.5s.
The Briton had started on the medium compound rather than the soft Verstappen had chosen and was playing the long game. Sure enough, the Dutchman complained his tires were expiring after lap 20.
Red Bull Racing stopped him for a set of mediums on lap 25. Hamilton followed him in on lap 29, switching to hards.
Mercedes anticipated that Verstappen would have to stop again while Hamilton could stay out, and at first the Dutchman appeared to be playing to that strategy by managing his pace. The longer the stint went on, the more it became clear the RB18 could lean on the medium compound without wearing it away.
Hamilton, meanwhile, was struggling to extract pace from the hards, and coupled with a recurring power cut issue, he allowed the gap to widen. Mercedes hoped the mediums would eventually drop off and swing the race back to the Briton, but the moment never came. Verstappen was suddenly on the faster one-stop strategy, and he cleared off to a 15.1s victory.
“An incredible result,” the Red Bull driver said. “The pace of the car was again very nice. We had to look after out tires because it was a very long stint on the mediums, but we made it work.”
His 14th victory moves him one race clear of the previous record jointly held by Michael Schumacher and Sebastian Vettel for most wins in a single season.
“It’s been an incredible year so far,” Verstappen said. “We are definitely enjoying it, and we’ll try to go for more.”
Hamilton lamented his tire choices for the race but admitted his Mercedes had no answer for Red Bull Racing’s pace.
“I was close, I think, in the first stint, but the Red Bull was clearly too fast today,” the seven-time champion said. “Ultimately they had the better tire strategy. I’m not sure (the hard) was the right tire at the end. I thought we should’ve started on the soft.”
Sergio Perez took the flag 2.9s behind Hamilton for a popular second-consecutive home podium but rued a 5s pit stop that prevented him from jumping the Mercedes car.
“I gave my best today at the start; really pushed hard,” Perez said. “Unfortunately we had a little bit of a bad stop, which prevented us from undercutting Lewis. Overtaking is so difficult. As soon as I got behind him it was really difficult to follow.”
George Russell was fourth, but his advantage over the Ferrari cars behind was great enough to make a late stop for soft tires and snatch the bonus point for fastest lap.
Carlos Sainz led Charles Leclerc home a minute off the pace in the Italian team’s worst grand prix of the year, with he power unit struggling badly in the altitude to keep up with the leaders.
Daniel Ricciardo was the highlight of an afternoon that featured little overtaking by completing a charge from near the back of the pack up to seventh. The Australian was 13th at the end of the first lap but ran a very long first stint on the medium tire as it became clear the yellow-banded rubber was longer lasting than expected.
He left his first stop until lap 44 to switch to the soft compound, with which he delivered a fierce final stint to rise deep into the points. It wasn’t without its controversy, and he was almost undone by a crash with Yuki Tsunoda early in the stint. Ricciardo put his nose down the AlphaTauri’s inside at Turn 6 and punted the Japanese driver off the track and into retirement. The McLaren was undamaged, but he was slapped with a 10s penalty for causing the smash.
His forward movement was unstoppable, though. He eased passed teammate Lando Norris, who was struggling on hards, muscled past Valtteri Bottas and then sliced through both Alpine cars to rise to seventh.
In the final 10 laps he sprinted away to a 12s advantage over Esteban Ocon in eighth—despite an interruption of the virtual safety car to recover Fernando Alonso’s stopped Alpine after another technical retirement for the Spaniard—to cement himself the place despite the penalty, winning the driver of the day in the process.
Ocon held eighth ahead of Norris, with Valtteri Bottas completing the top 10 for the final point of the race.