Hamilton overcame a shaky start to ultimately cruise to first place before a controversial finish at the Mexican Grand Prix on Sunday.
Lewis Hamilton secured a 51st career win at the Mexican Grand Prix on Sunday to keep his title hopes alive. The Briton, who led through practice and qualifying as well, had an early scare when his front tyre locked at the first corner and ran him wide. But from there on he had little trouble, and was largely unchallenged, with Rosberg content with ensuring a second-placed finish.
— Formula 1 (@F1) October 30, 2016
Nico Rosberg currently has 9 wins in the season, ahead of teammate Hamilton’s 8. And while the Briton now has back-to-back wins after Rosberg clinched Japan, the German still has 19 points on him. That means Hamilton still needs to take first in the remaining two races in Brazil and Abu Dhabi, whereas even second placed finishes would do it for Rosberg.
Rosberg may have been taking it easy with Hamilton, but he did have challenges of his own. Red Bull’s Max Verstappen’s pressing saw him briefly challenge Rosberg when he locked at Turn One of the 50th. But the Dutchman’s attempt at Turn Four failed after he ran wide, and then fell away eventually.
But the relative lack of drama up front was more than made up by some tussles further down. Red Bull’s start with the super-soft and Vettel’s persistence with soft tyres till the 33rd lap made for a feisty showdown at the close between Vettel, Ricciardo and Verstappen, with tempers flying and prompting several revisions of the final spot on the podium.
Hamilton breezes to 1st, but controversy follows for 3rd spot
Verstappen’s challenge for 2nd foiled, the Dutchman was drawn into a battle for 3rd with a Vettel on fresh tyres. Vettel passed him on the 67th after the former locked up. But Verstappen rejoined the track in front of the Ferrari after going wide. The race team instructed the Dutchman to hand back the position to Vettel, his subsequent refusal prompting the German’s ire.
The pair clashed again later toward the penultimate lap, when Verstappen backed Vettel into a chasing Ricciardo, with the German then under-braking to keep Ricciardo in-check to maintain his spot.
📻 #MexicoGP 🇲🇽 – A furious Vettel 😡😡😡
— Sebastian Vettel ☝️ (@FansOfSebVettel) October 30, 2016
The jostling further provoked the German, who unleashed an expletive-laden tirade over the radio while gesticulating angrily at Verstappen. The race ultimately ended with Verstappen crossing the finish third, with Vettel and Ricciardo following.
But the incidents were reviewed by the stewards in the aftermath, first leading to a five-second penalty for Verstappen for refusing instructions after he cut the first corner in the 67th. He wasn’t happy, claiming Hamilton’s re-entry earlier in the race to be a similar incident. But more drama was to follow, even after Vettel was ushered onto the podium following Verstappen’s demotion to 5th.
The authorities then penalized Vettel ten seconds for his maneuver to hold off Ricciardio through under-braking. With that, the standings shifted again, now Ricciardo taking 3rd ahead of Verstappen and Vettel.
— Formula 1 (@F1) October 30, 2016
Hamilton however, far removed from the fracas, will already be gearing up for Sao Paolo on the 13th.
Reactions from the podium
Hamilton, relieved with the win, chose to appreciate the hosts:
“This is honestly the best crowd we get anywhere. In our home country it is always great, but these guys have such a great passion.
“I love it here. I have had tacos every night.
“Nico is doing a great job. I’m really grateful the team did a great job.”
— Lewis Hamilton (@LewisHamilton) October 30, 2016
Sebastian Vettel, later demoted to 5th, had a few words regarding the ill-tempered finish:
“I was using a lot of sign language. You have to understand the adrenaline.
“Then obviously he left the track and didn’t move and so you can understand why I was annoyed. I was really disappointed when I crossed the line.”
Check out the results of the Mexican Grand Prix, including those for qualifying and practice, here.
You can also view the latest standings in the Formula 1 Championship at the official website here.