Mercedes’ Lewis Hamilton scored the required points by finishing fourth at the Mexican Grand Prix to become 2018 World Drivers Title after failing to win the US Grand Prix one week previous, while Max Verstappen claimed his fifth career victory, and his second at the Autódromo Hermanos Rodríguez.
Polesitter, Daniel Ricciardo blew his start getting too much wheelspin allowing Hamilton to get between the Red Bulls going into turn 1, with Hamilton having to settle for second exiting turn 3, from Max Verstappen, leading the race. Meanwhile, Valtteri Bottas got better drive out of turn 3 to take fourth place from Sebastian Vettel, only for Vettel to reclaim the place going into turn 6 when the pair banged wheels.
McLaren’s Fernando Alonso, was a victim of circumstance once again, his car being struck from parts of Esteban Ocon’s front wing after the Frenchman made contact with Nico Hulkenberg’s Renault entering turn 3. Alonso continued on until lap 5 where he pulled to the side of the road at turn 11 to retire.
By lap 10, Mercedes duo. Hamilton and Bottas were suffering from severe graining on their front tires, allowing Ricciardo to close up on Hamilton before Mercedes stacked their drivers on lap 12 in the pits for fresh tires. Red Bull reacted, pitting Ricciardo on lap 13 and Verstappen on lap 14 to cover the undercut from Hamilton, with Ricciardo coming back out behind Hamilton while Verstappen retained the race lead.
Ferrari, stayed out for a few more laps, until lap 18, which cost Kimi Raikkonen big time, being overtaken by Verstappen, Hamilton and Ricciardo. Ferrari, pitted both their cars on the next lap after Raikkonen was demoted three places, due to the ultra soft tires that were at the very end of their lifespan.
Vettel was flying on his new super-soft tires, passing both Ricciardo, on lap 34, and Hamilton on lap 39, for second place. Hamilton was once again struggling with tire degradation, the Briton fell back into the clutches of Ricciardo, with the Australian eventually forcing Hamilton into a mistake at turn 1, to move into third place. Meanwhile, Raikkonen forced a similar mistake from Bottas, to move into fifth place.
On lap 48, Hamilton and Vettel pitted for a second time, which dropped Vettel back to third, behind Ricciardo, who had not made a second stop. Red Bull pitted Verstappen, in response to Ferrari pitting Vettel on lap 49, which, coupled with Ricciardo not stopping, meant Red Bull were running in P1 and P2.
Vettel was chasing Ricciardo hard to retake second place, and Ricciardo was robustly defending his position, when disaster struck on lap 61, with smoke coming from the rear of his car, grinding to a halt on the outside of turn 1, which is RIcciardo’s 8th retirement of the season, promoting Vettel back to second.
RIcciardo’s stricken car caused a virtual safety car period, which neutralized the race, confirming Hamilton as 2018 world drivers champion and Red Bull teammate Verstappen the Mexican Grand Prix winner.
As a Daniel Ricciardo fan, I am kinda angry he has suffered yet another Red Bull mechanical failure. Ricciardo himself, has labeled his car cursed, saying there’s no point racing in the final two races in Brazil and Abu Dhabi. The Australian going as far as offering his RB14 to his replacement, Pierre Gasly early.
I certainly understand his comments, he has done almost everything right, only to be let down by a mechanical issue while running in podium positions. I’m sure the end of the season cannot come quick enough so he can leave his ‘cursed’ car behind, moving onto new pastures at Renault Sport F1 in 2019.
Congratulations to the newest five time drivers champion, Lewis Hamilton, joining legends Juan Manuel Fangio and Michael Schumacher. Hamilton drove excellently since the mid season break, outclassing title rival Vettel. I was really hoping for a real battle for the title this season, but yet again, Ferrari and Vettel fell apart in the home stretch, giving Hamilton a relatively easy ride to the world drivers title.
Hopefully, now that the drivers title is sealed, Mercedes and Ferrari will let their respective drivers go head to head. I would love to see how Bottas stacks up against Hamilton without team orders interferring with the on track battle. Same goes for Ferrari, with Raikkonen departing from Maranello at the end of the year, let’s see if he can really take the race to Vettel, or forever be a #2 driver to Alonso, then Vettel.
Mexican Grand Prix 2018 Results
|1. Max Verstappen (Red Bull) 1:38:28.851
2. Sebastian Vettel (Ferrari) +17.316
3. Kimi Raikkonen (Ferrari) +49.914
4. Lewis Hamilton (Mercedes) +78.738
5. Valtteri Bottas (Mercedes) +1 LAP
|6. Nico Hulkenberg (Renault) +2 LAPS
7. Charles Leclerc (Sauber) +2 LAPS
8. Stoffel Vandoorne (McLaren) +2 LAPS
9. Marcus Ericsson (Sauber) +2 LAPS
10. Pierre Gasly (Toro Rosso) +2 LAPS