Grand Prix of Mexico – Race


A dusty track, a red flag, lots of engine penalties, and some drivers giving their teammate a tow – an eventful qualifying session.
Post-Quali order: BOT, HAM, VER, PER, GAS, SAI, RIC, LEC, TSU*, NOR*, VET, RAI, RUS*, GIO, OCO*, ALO, LAT, SCH, MAZ, STR* – *penalties to be applied.

For the Quali incidents which were investigated after Q3, RAI received a reprimand, and RUS & LAT got no penalty. (I’ve added the details as a comment on my Quali notes.)

As for the Championship, VER is 12 points ahead of HAM but Mercedes is only 23 points ahead of Red Bull.
It’s so close, there’s a strong possibility that PER will need to help VER claim maximum points rather than win his home race.
Mind you, if Perez somehow crosses the finish line first, will they wave the Checo flag? 😉

Sky Sports recap Martin Brundle’s grid walk in Austin, when some “celeb’s entourage tried to tell Martin he couldn’t talk to her, and Martin replied “I can, because I did” 🙂
Well, there’s now a new rule: no bodyguards on the grid.
Personally, I’d prefer it to be “no-one who’s just there to be seen” on the grid
I know when I shoot the Honda Indy pit lane and grid that I should snap the celebs too but I’d much rather capture the real excitement of the fans who are lucky enough to be there

The green light comes on – the pit lane is open, so drivers can do installation laps (returning to the pits) before making their way to the grid
Radio from HAM reporting a brief loss of power as he does his practice start, but he gets away ok

New instruction from the race director about the first lap: Any driver who goes off at Turns One/Two must rejoin safely and not gain an advantage. “In practical terms, this will mean giving up any positions that were gained.” The requirement to go around Turn Three bollard is not required on lap one.

If GAS learned to put his cap on properly he wouldn’t need to squint 🙂
GAS: “We starting in fifth which is really good, a nice tow into Turn 1. We’ll try to benefit from anything that could happen at the front.”

Grid: BOT, HAM, VER, PER, GAS, SAI, RIC, LEC, VET, RAI, GIO, ALO, LAT, SCH, MAZ, RUS, TSU, NOR, OCO, STR

Air temperature 21°C; track 48°C; it’s dry & cloudless; 0% chance of rain

Toto Wolff: “We are aware they (Red Bull) might go very aggressive with a two-stop for example. We’ll figure it out once it gets going.” “I think the plan is to have the best possible start and try to figure it out as we go.”
NOR: “Our aim is to get to the points. it won’t be easy but it’s a long race.”

BOT leads everyone away on the formation lap
Everyone starting on the medium compound tyres except TSU and OCO who are on softs
HAM and PER starting on the dusty side of the track, so they may struggle to make a clean getaway
The rear of the grid is taking forever to take up their places

01/71: VER finds his way past BOT and leads into Turn 1
RIC tags BOT, spinning the Mercedes; RIC loses his front wing
Safety Car deployed

02[SC]: RIC and BOT head into the pits
Hard tyres for BOT
New front wing and
Replay shows OCO was squeezed between TSU and SCH; contact on both sides, but TSU and SCH both end up retiring

03[SC]: VER, HAM, PER, GAS, LEC, GIO, SAI, VET, RUS, RAI, MAZ, ALO, OCO, LAT, NOR, STR, BOT, RIC; out: SCH, TSU

04[SC]: SC in at the end of this lap

05/71: VER, HAM, PER, GAS, LEC, GIO, SAI, VET, RUS, RAI
GIO has a look at passing SAI but the Ferrari stays ahead
STR dives past NOR but brakes too late and has to take to the grass

06: VER fastest lap 1:21.615

07: Radio from HAM, “He’s quick!”

09: VER f/lap 1:21.520
Radio for VER warning him not to use up his tyres too soon
RAI around RUS to steal P9

10/71: VER, HAM, PER, GAS, LEC, SAI, GIO, VET, RAI, RUS, ALO, MAZ, NOR, LAT, OCO, STR, RIC, BOT
VER f/lap 1:21.051
ALO around RUS for P10

11: VER has 3sec lead over HAM; BOT is over 30sec behind
NOR takes P12 from MAZ
RIC looking for a way past LAT

12: VER f/lap 1:20.958
LAT pits; hard tyres go on; rejoins P18

13: STR pits; hards go on; rejoins P17, only just ahead of LAT; has to defend P17 from his countryman

14: MAZ pits; rejoins P18
Radio from HAM, “The tyres are dropping off”; Bono says it’s heat not wear

15/71: VER, HAM, PER, GAS, LEC, SAI, GIO, VET, RAI, ALO, RUS, NOR, OCO, RIC, BOT, STR, LAT, MAZ
OCO pits

16: Radio from PER, “My tyres getting better”
RUS pits; hards go on; rejoins P14

17: GIO pits from P7; rejoins P13

18: Radio for PER, “We’re looking at Plan B” – is that the call for the undercut?

20/71: VER, HAM, PER, GAS, LEC, SAI, VET, RAI, ALO, NOR, RIC, BOT, GIO, RUS, OCO, STR, LAT, MAZ
VER f/lap 1:20.685 – his lead is over 6sec; he’s also lapped MAZ

22: Red Bull mechanics seem to be getting ready for a stop

23: Radio from HAM, “These guys are obviously too fast for us”

24: Radio for PER, “Stay on HAM; Close this gap up”; he’s just over 2sec behind the Mercedes
Radio from HAM, “I can’t pull away from him”

25/71: VER, HAM, PER, GAS, LEC, SAI, VET, RAI, ALO, NOR, RIC, BOT, GIO, RUS, OCO, STR, LAT, MAZ; out: SCH, TSU

26: RIC defending but BOT’s not quite close enough to attack

28: BOT now having a nibble at RIC’s rear wing
Radio for HAM, “Target plus six”

30/71: HAM pits from P2; hard tyres go on; rejoins P4 but LEC almost immediately passes him
Red Bull were ready for PER but presumably the plan was “do the opposite of HAM”

31: LEC pits; hards go on; rejoins P9

32: HAM f/lap 1:19.953
GAS pits from P3; rejoins P7
LEC takes P8 from ALO

33: RAI pits; rejoins P10

34: VER pits; hards go on; rejoins P2
So now PER leads the race – expect the crowd to go wild
VET pits
Radio from PER, “Get Max to hold Lewis up” – nice try Checo!

35/71: PER, VER, HAM, SAI, GAS, LEC, ALO, NOR, VET, RAI, RIC, BOT, GIO, RUS, OCO, STR, LAT, MAZ
Half distance
Radio for PER, “Plan A plus five”
STR has a slow stop

36: Radio from PER, “Tyres are getting good” or does he just want to stay P1 for as long as possible? 🙂

38: HAM ~8sec behind VER

39: BOT has another look at RIC but the McLaren driver keeps P11

40/71: PER, VER, HAM, SAI, GAS, LEC, ALO, NOR, VET, RAI, RIC…
RIC pits from P11; switches from hards to medium tyres; rejoins P13
OCO takes P14 from RUS
ALO pits

41: PER pits; rejoins P3, about 9sec behind HAM
BOT pits; mediums go on; slow stop – problem with the front left; rejoins P15

43: PER f/lap 1:16.659
SAI pits from P4; rejoins P6 – so now everyone except NOR has made their mandatory stop

44: BOT passes RUS for P14

45/71: VER, HAM, PER, GAS, LEC, SAI, NOR, VET, RAI, ALO, GIO, RIC, OCO, BOT, RUS, STR, LAT, MAZ
VER has lapped GIO (P11)
NOR pits from P7; rejoins P10

48: Radio from VER asking how far PER is behind HAM; he’s told 6.5sec (although FIA timing screen says it’s just over 7sec)

49: MAZ now 2 laps down

50/71: VER, HAM, PER, GAS, LEC, SAI, VET, RAI, ALO, NOR, GIO, RIC, BOT, OCO, RUS, STR, LAT, MAZ
PER f/lap 1:19.468

52: Radio from HAM, “Are you guys still there?” I guess there’s not been much to tell him other than PER is catching him

53: VER f/lap 1:18.999

54: Radio for HAM, “From the plan the catch is going to be towards the last lap”

55/71: VER, HAM, PER, GAS, LEC, SAI, VET, RAI, ALO, NOR
Radio for LEC telling him they want to switch position with SAI; no reply from LEC
(SAI is almost 2sec behind his teammate)

56: STR squeezes past RUS for P15

57: PER has reduced the gap to HAM to 2.5sec, meanwhile HAM has fallen to 15sec behind VER

58: LEC lets SAI past for P5

59: Radio from HAM, “Tyres are wearing”
Radio for PER, “Tyres are good; batteries are good; let’s get him”; “Engine is good?”; “Engine’s good”

60/71: VER, HAM, PER, GAS, SAI, LEC, VET, RAI, ALO, NOR, GIO, RIC, BOT, OCO, STR, RUS, LAT, MAZ; out: SCH, TSU

61: HAM closing to lap NOR (P10) but not quite close enough for NOR to be given blue flags

62: NOR lets HAM and PER past

63: Radio for NOR telling him to “stay with them now to get the advantage when they pass ALO”; “Yeah, that’s obvious”

64: PER only just outside DRS range (It’s only measured once but applied to two DRS zones)
Radio for HAM telling him to lift and coast in order to cool the brakes!

65/71: BOT pits; soft tyres go on – he won’t get a point for fastest lap but he can take it away from VER

66: PER has dropped to 2sec behind HAM, presumably he’s cooling too

67 = 5 laps left: VER 19sec ahead of HAM; PER just under 2sec further back
BOT has passed VER (although he’s still 1 lap down) so now he has some clear air to set the fastest lap

68: PER reducing the gap again

69: BOT seems to have aborted his quick lap and is passed by VER again

70: BOT pits for another set of tyres; they hold him for a moment to send him out into clear air
PER now has DRS
HAM closing on

71 = final lap: Radio for PER, “Drain the battery”

VER takes the chequered flag
HAM P2
PER P3
BOT f/lap 1:17.774 but way down in P15

I think the party in Mexico City might go on for quite a while

Interviews:
VER: “The fans here, they’ve been incredible. [The start] was all about trying to break as late as you can, and it made my race as I could just focus on myself. Still a long way to go, but of course it’s looking good.”
HAM: “Congratulations to Max, their car was fastest this weekend and there wasn’t a lot I could do about it. I gave it everything, a great fight with Sergio at the end. It just shows how fast their car was, he was applying that pressure and just kept going.”
PER: “Today I wanted to get the 1-2 for the team, it was really close.”
Toto Wolff: “You have to congratulate Red Bull, the pace was on another level. I don’t think we could have won the race been if we’d stayed ahead at the first corner. For Lewis second was damage limitation. Valtteri spinning out was very painful. You have to take it on the chin.”

Provisional result: VER, HAM, PER, GAS, LEC, SAI, VET, RAI, ALO, NOR; GIO, RIC, OCO, STR, BOT*, RUS, LAT, MAZ
DNF: SCH, TSU
*Fastest lap: BOT but he won’t get the point as he’s outside the top 10

[2021 calendar] [2021 line-up] [Points standings]