Max Verstappen set a Formula 1® record with his 16th victory of the year at the Mexico City Grand Prix on Sunday, Red Bull Racing’s triple world champion winning for the fifth time at the Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez to break his own benchmark of 15 wins in a single season set last year.
Verstappen led all three practice sessions leading into qualifying, but was edged off the front row by Ferrari pair Charles Leclerc and Carlos Sainz in a tight session where just 0.097secs separated the top three. Verstappen then stormed through the gap between the two Ferraris to lead into the first corner, where Leclerc and Sergio Perez made contact, eliminating the home hero just seconds into the race.
Verstappen was rarely troubled at the front, but the race was reset after Kevin Magnussen (Haas) had a heavy shunt at Turn 9 on lap 33, the resultant damage to the barriers necessitating a red flag and a 20-minute delay. Verstappen quickly picked up where he left off before the interruption, leaving Lewis Hamilton (Mercedes) to finish second; Hamilton set the fastest lap of the race on the final lap to take 19 points out of his deficit to Perez for second in the standings, which sits at 20 points with three race weekends remaining in 2023.
Leclerc took the final podium position – the 11th time in a row he’s failed to convert pole to victory – with a spread-out top three separated by 23 seconds on a day where tyre management in the heat and altitude of Mexico City saw drivers having to manage cooling issues and baby their tyres to get to the end of the 71-lap race.
Australia had two drivers finish in the points for the first time in 10 years on Sunday in Mexico, with Daniel Ricciardo (seventh) and Oscar Piastri (eighth) both scoring on a day of reliability for the field, just three cars failing to see the finish.
Ricciardo, in his second race back after a broken hand, was brilliant all weekend for Scuderia AlphaTauri, qualifying a stunning fourth to line up next to Verstappen on the grid. Staying in that position in a car that has been the slowest on the grid all season was always going to be tough, but the 34-year-old didn’t put a foot wrong as he fought George Russell (Mercedes) right to the line on the last lap, the six points lifting AlphaTauri from 10th to eighth in the constructors’ standings.
Piastri finished 1.6secs behind Ricciardo on a frustrating day for the McLaren rookie, who was embroiled in a mid-race scrap with Ricciardo’s teammate Yuki Tsunoda that saw Tsunoda spin at Turn 1 on lap 49, the contact between the pair leaving Piastri managing damage the rest of the way.
Ricciardo and Piastri finishing in the points was the first time two Aussies have scored in the same race since the final Grand Prix of 2013 in Brazil, when Mark Webber finished second in the final race of his career, with Ricciardo (at what was then known as Scuderia Toro Rosso) in 10th.
Piastri and Ricciardo were joined on track in Mexico by compatriot Jack Doohan, the Alpine reserve driver deputising for Pierre Gasly at the French team for FP1 as one of five young drivers to compete in the session.
Fifth place for Lando Norris doesn’t look like much on paper given the McLaren driver came to Mexico off the back of four straight top-three finishes, but the Briton was brilliant on Sunday after storming through from 17th on the grid to finish just 10 seconds off the podium.
A procedural mishap and a scrubby lap dumped Norris out of qualifying in Q1, but he made amends on Sunday with arguably the best drive of his career, gaining 12 places and utilising the speed of his medium-compound Pirellis to barrel through from 10th at the race restart to draw to within 14 points of Aston Martin’s Fernando Alonso for fifth in the world championship.
Number to know
808: The number of Grands Prix that have passed since three Australian drivers were on track on the same weekend before Mexico. At the 1977 British US Grand Prix, Alan Jones, Vern Schuppan and Brian McGuire were all on circuit at Silverstone, but McGuire didn’t qualify for the race.
To fight a Mercedes at the end … it’s been a big weekend. When you get that close you look at two more points, but big-picture we should be really happy.
Mexican Grand Prix: top 10
- Max Verstappen (Red Bull Racing) 2hrs 02mins 30.814secs
- Lewis Hamilton (Mercedes) +13.875secs
- Charles Leclerc (Ferrari) +23.124secs
- Carlos Sainz (Ferrari) +27.154secs
- Lando Norris (McLaren) +33.266secs
- George Russell (Mercedes) +41.020secs
- Daniel Ricciardo (Scuderia AlphaTauri) +41.570secs
- Oscar Piastri (McLaren) +43.104secs
- Alexander Albon (Williams) +48.573secs
- Esteban Ocon (Alpine) +62.879secs
Standings (top 5)
- Max Verstappen (Red Bull Racing) 491 points
- Sergio Perez (Red Bull Racing) 240 points
- Lewis Hamilton (Mercedes) 220 points
- Carlos Sainz (Ferrari) 183 points
- Fernando Alonso (Aston Martin) 183 points
- Red Bull Racing (731 points)
- Mercedes (371 points)
- Ferrari (349 points)
- McLaren (256 points)
- Aston Martin (236 points)
Round 20: Brazil, Autodromo Jose Carlos Pace (November 3-5)