2019 Mexican Grand Prix Blog
345,694 people visited Autodromo Hernandez Rodriguez over the 3-days, making it one of the best attended races of the season. The Mexican fans are the most devoted in the world and create a fantastic atmosphere, especially in Foro Sol for the podium celebrations. The Grand Prix itself lived up to the expectations of this F1 mad nation and we were treated to a Formula 1 feast on Sunday.
Ferrari had a front row lockout, due to Max Verstappen being demoted 3 places from pole in Qualifying, with Lewis Hamilton in third and the Red Bull pushed back to fourth. At lights out the two Scuderia shot off the line with Leclerc just heading Vettel into turn 1. Those behind didn’t fare so well with Verstappen and Hamilton making contact and both cars running off the track. Alex Albon and Carlos Sainz would have been delighted to find themselves in P3 and P4 as a result. Lewis re-joined in fifth place with Max back down in eighth.
The Dutchman was clearly intent on making back the places, and on lap 4 made a brave lunge to pass Valterri Bottas in the stadium section. It was a good move and he didn’t deserve what happened next. Bottas tagged his rear tyre, causing a puncture which didn’t manifest until after the Red Bull had passed the entrance to the pits. It meant Verstappen was forced to do an entire lap on just his rim, and having finally pitted, he re-joined way back in last place. Mexico is a circuit which favours Red Bull. They may have been expecting Max to win and will be hugely disappointed with how the weekend unfolded to this point.
Ferrari on the other hand would have been delighted. They had a 1-2 track position and could manage their pace and choose strategy. It was Leclerc who they decided to pit first on Lap 16 and fit medium tyres, so a two-stop race. Hamilton’s stop came next, on Lap 24, where Mercedes switched him to hard tyres, which was his only stop of the race. Up front both Vettel and Bottas were in for the long haul. Mercedes eventually brought their driver in on Lap 37 with Ferrari copying them on Lap 38. Each got hard tyres and would be doing a one-stop race. Leclerc and Alex Albon then pitted again on Laps 44 and 45 respectively.
Normally we don’t go on about pit stops but the tactical scenario which developed between the teams in Mexico was great. No-one knew whose strategy was best and it built the race into a nail-biting conclusion. As we approached the final laps it was Lewis Hamilton who held the lead but Vettel, Bottas and Lelerc, all with fresher tyres, were closing in on him. Lewis was clearly concerned. In an earlier radio message, he’d said: “We stopped too early. We have a long way to go on these tyres, man.” As it turned out his fears were misguided and the challenge from the pack never really materialised. Sebastian Vettel was closest, but Hamilton’s tyres held out better than expected, allowing him to guide his Mercedes home in top spot. This victory was probably the most satisfying that Hamilton has had all year, and he was quick to thank his team, saying: “What a fantastic job… That was a hard race. Thanks for all your support, guys.”
Sebastian Vettel had a good afternoon too. Yes, he would have liked to win but P2 after a string of disappointing results will have been very welcome. It shows how much it means to Vettel that he actually criticised his trophy, saying: “I think it’s a shame, you have such a great race and they’ve put so much effort into the race, and then you get these… trophies that look boring.” The German also took a dislike to ‘Mario Achi’, who joined the podium celebrations dressed as a Mariachi musician with white helmet and selfie stick. “I didn’t like the selfie guy when he tried to push into the picture, so I pushed him away,” said Vettel. To be fair, we didn’t like him either!
With such a big crowd it was good to see local hero Sergio Perez bring his Racing Point home in seventh place. Starting in P11 gave Perez free tyre choice and he was able to fend of the Renault of Daniel Ricciardo to match his highest ever finish at the Mexico GP. From the cheers of the crowd you’d have thought he’d won!
Back to back races means we move onto Austin in a weeks’ time. COTA is one of our favourite tracks on the calendar and Texan hospitality is something that everyone should experience. The celebrations will go on long into the night if, as expected, Lewis Hamilton secures his sixth World Title.
If you would like the chance to experience the F1 Paddock Club at Mexico in 2020, then Club Suite prices are currently held & can be booked for next years race.
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