Double World Champion Max Verstappen set a new Formula 1 record in Mexico as the Dutchman won his 14th race of the year.
The 25-year-old beat Mercedes’ Lewis Hamilton for the second week in a row and clinched a fourth victory in Mexico City.
Following a 34th career win, Verstappen said: “An incredible result, the pace of the car was very nice. We had to look after our tyres!”
“The first stint of the race was critical today and we managed to stay in the lead after turn one. We were obviously on a different strategy to the cars around us and we had to look after our tyres a lot. We had quite good pace on the soft tyre even though it wears a bit more, we then drove the medium to the end. Winning 14 races in a season is incredible, we’re having an amazing year as a Team and that’s the most important thing. We keep on pushing and we want to win as many races as possible, it’s really special what we are all achieving together this year.”
Mercedes had threatened early on to pressure Red Bull but were unable to improve on the second and fourth places they fell into at the start, but closed the gap on Ferrari in the Constructors’ standings.
For the second year in a row, Sergio Perez stood on the podium at his home race, as the 2021 podium was repeated.
‘It feels good to be on the podium but I wanted more today, I am a little bit disappointed. We could have finished second definitely but we had a poor pitstop, which really prevented us doing the undercut and being closer to Lewis. The hard tyre didn’t work for him initially but once he got them going it just didn’t work for me, then I was looking after my tyres and there was no more in them. We were planning to do a two-stop race but degradation was better than expected. This place in unbelievable, it is an amazing crowd here and I will never forget these moments because of the people. It is certainly, if not the best, one of the best crowds in Formula One – I am very privileged to have this support. I just want to go and win the next two races now, we have had the pace in the last few races, so now I just want to put it all together, cut out the small problems and then I believe we can do that,’ said Perez.
Ferrari finished a very distant fifth and sixth, underscoring their dramatic fade in this season’s championship, the Italian team now 209-points adrift of Red Bull.
Verstappen can further extend his win tally with two races remaining in Brazil and Abu Dhabi, potentially moving the Dutchman to 16 wins from 22 races.
Mercedes challenge fails to materialise
After taking pole position on Saturday, Verstappen quickly moved to cover the inside line on the run to Turn 1, aiming to deny Hamilton, who started third, a long slipstream to the first braking zone.
The Dutchman pulled out more than one second of lead on the first lap, from Hamilton, but the Mercedes driver stalked the Red Bull as the pair sought to make the most of their strategies.
Red Bull started on the soft tyres, while Mercedes took the mediums for the opening stint.
Mercedes did run a little longer but as the pace of the mediums dropped, Mercedes pitted only a handful of laps later than Red Bull.
Perez had pitted first and perhaps his pace on fresh mediums spooked Mercedes into boxing a little earlier too.
Once the pit stops had played out, Verstappen held a nine second advantage, with Mercedes hoping for a similar fade in performance, as they ran to the end on hard tyres.
However, Verstappen had both enough pace and a gentle touch on the mediums to cruise to a record-breaking victory.
Ricciardo provides main action in dull race
In a race devoid of action following the pit stops, the main action came from the McLaren driver Daniel Ricciardo.
The 33-year-old is leaving the team at the end of the year, but the Australian produced a stirring late drive to overcome both Alpine’s and a 10 second time penalty.
Ricciardo made contact with AlphaTauri’s Yuki Tsunoda at Turn 6 on Lap 51, having switched to the soft compound tyres.
The stewards took a dim view on the Australian’s move, which ended the Japanese drivers race, and slapped the eight-time race winner with a 10 second time penalty.
Undetered however, Riccardo passed team mate Lando Norris, via team orders, and then swept past the trio of Valtteri Bottas’ Alfa Romeo and the Alpine’s of Fernando Alonso and Esteban Ocon.
Despite having seventh position on the track, there was still work to do and Ricciardo set about pulling the all important 10 second gap to Ocon in eighth.
Ricciardo did exactly that, securing a top 10 finish for the first time since Singapore.
McLaren’s day was made all the sweeter as Alonso’s Alpine broke down with six laps remaining, allowing the Woking-based team to close the gap on their French rivals in the battle for fourth in the Constructors’ Standings to just seven-points.