Lewis Hamilton claimed his fourth world drivers title at the Mexican Grand Prix taking the chequered flag in ninth place, after suffering a first lap puncture courtesy of title rival Sebastian Vettel. No doubt the Hamilton conspiracy theorists would have been whipped into the frenzy after, the man himself, suggested over the radio that Vettel made contact deliberately, a la Michael Schumacher in ’94 and ’97.
The start of the race is where the title race was decided, the 1/2 mile drag down to turn 1 saw, Vettel, Hamilton and young whippersnapper Max Verstappen three abreast going into turn 1 with Verstappen coming out on top as the trio rounded turn 2. Vettel drifted wide allowing Hamilton into second place, however, Vettel kept his foot in, making contact with Verstappen’s right rear tire entering turn 2 before making contact with Hamilton’s right rear tire, breaking his front wing and puncturing Hamilton’s tire.
This left Hamilton to limp back to the pits, trying not to damage his car further, while Vettel stopped for a new front wing, the net result was Hamilton dropping to the back with Vettel two places ahead in 18th. Vettel immediately started to make his way through the pack and by lap 26, Vettel was in the points, it took Hamilton until lap 57 to break into the top 10, at which point Vettel was about to claim fourth place.
Esteban Ocon, who had received death threats from, what I presume to be Mexicans pissed off that he was taking the battle to their hometown hero, Sergio Perez, was unlucky with a virtual safety car period on lap 32 after he had already pitted, gifting Ferrari’s Kimi Raikkonen a free pit stop, allowing him to leapfrog the Frenchman into the final podium spot, before the VSC, Ocon was looking good for the podium.
My personal favorite [current] driver, Daniel Ricciardo, who had already been demoted from 7th to 16th on the grid for changing his power unit after qualifying, suffered a turbo failure after charging from 16th to 7th by lap four. I’m gutted by this as it would have been great to see Ricciardo charge through the field, with the pace he had, he could have made it a 1 – 2 for Red Bull, but it wasn’t to be for the Aussie.
Mercedes’ Valtteri Bottas had a better race, benefiting from the second corner madness, moving into second place as his team mate, Hamilton fell to the back. But, despite having the best power unit on the grid, he had no answer for Verstappen, the young Dutchman consistently pulled away from the Finn.
With Renault power units failing left, right and center, Red Bull had to be nervous about Verstappen’s power unit as team mate Ricciardo had earlier suffered a turbo failure. But the engine, the most recent spec, stayed strong to the end, with Verstappen setting fastest laps much to the chagrin of his race engineer who had instructed him to slow down and match the pace of second placed driver, Bottas.
Special mentions for Williams’ Lance Stroll and HAAS’ Kevin Magnussen finishing the race in sixth and eighth places, thanks to the VSC earlier in the race, the free pit stops launched both drivers up the grid, but as ‘they’ (who are they, exactly?) say, it’s better to be lucky than good, which in this case is true.
McLaren scored another point in Mexico in the hands of Fernando Alonso. But, McLaren have to be concerned with the reliability of the Renault power unit, four out of six power units didn’t make it to the end. McLaren ditched the slow and unreliable Honda power unit in favor of the Renault power unit in 2018, was that a smart decision? The Renault is a faster power unit, but if it goes bang, it means nothing.
So, all the top prizes have been claimed, Mercedes are constructors champions, Lewis Hamilton is world drivers champion, all that is left to fight for is, the best of the rest crown in the final two races. To say that the season fizzled out to a damp squib after the mid season break is an understatement, I was hoping for a true battle to the end, but Vettel and his Ferrari team repeatedly shot themselves in the foot.
Mexican Grand Prix 2017 Results
|1. Max Verstappen (Red Bull) 1:36:26.552
2. Valtteri Bottas (Mercedes) +19.678s
3. Kimi Raikkonen (Ferrari) +54.007s
4. Sebastian Vettel (Ferrari) +70.078s
5. Esteban Ocon (Force India) +1 LAP
|6. Lance Stroll (Williams) +1 LAP
7. Sergio Perez (Force India) +1 LAP
8. Kevin Magnussen (HAAS) +1 LAP
9. Lewis Hamilton (Mercedes) +1 LAP
10. Fernando Alonso (McLaren) +1 LAP