Formula 1 returned to Mexico this weekend for the first time since 1992 where the last driver to win was Nigel Mansell.
Lewis Hamilton was looking to be the next Brit to win at the track and although none of the drivers on the grid had ever driven around the circuit the Mercedes cars looked on fire once again.
It was a fight for pole between already crowned world champion Hamilton and team-mate Nico Rosberg and this time around it was the German who won out, the Silver Arrows finishing ahead of Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel.
— Nico Rosberg (@nico_rosberg) October 31, 2015
It was to be a miserable start for Jenson Button with a record 70-place grid penalty for his McLaren which didn’t even make it to qualifying. Kimi Raikkonen also had a torrid Saturday as his Ferrari retired during Q2, leaving him starting down at the back of the field. For Mexican Ferrari reserve driver Esteban Gutierrez there was some happy news as it was announced that he will join Lotus’ Romain Grosjean as a driver for the new Haas team next season.
Mexico boasts the longest time from the start to the first corner of any track on the 2015 race calendar with a whopping 800m into the corner so a good start was crucial for the Mercedes cars in order to take the race lead.
— Haas F1 Team (@HaasF1Team) October 31, 2015
Rosberg got off to a great start and Hamilton was unable to make a move on him under the slipstream of the long straight. The majority of the cars managed to make a clean start but Vettel soon fell back with a puncture and Fernando Alonso’s McLaren was retired almost immediately.
Button showed some better pace than usual but on the longer straights the car was occasionally a sitting duck as he was passed relatively easily by Vettel who was looking to make up positions after his early pit stop due to a puncture. By lap 18 the four time world champion made a mistake and lost the rear of the car, losing the places he had just worked hard to climb up to.
Sergio Perez was hoping for the home advantage with a huge number of fans turning out to support him and the battle for tenth saw the Force India missing out to Toro Rosso’s Carlos Sainz as they exited the pits. 15 laps later and the fight between them was still on, Sainz cutting out a huge chunk of the track as he missed the corner.
There was some tense wheel on wheel action between Williams’ Valtteri Bottas and Raikkonen, the pair having had a huge collision in Russia when the elder Finn pushed the younger off of the track and into retirement, the Ferrari then being given a 30 second time penalty. This time round Bottas won out with Raikkonen forced to retire with rear right suspension failure, the Williams cleared of causing a collision.
— Scuderia Ferrari (@ScuderiaFerrari) November 1, 2015
With the race nearing lap 50 of 71 race leader Rosberg pitted for another set of the medium tyre, Hamilton instructed by the team to pit on the following lap. The Brit continued on to another lap, certain that his tyres were wearing well enough to last to the end of the race. But with the engineering team repeating the instruction to pit Hamilton obeyed, returning to the track in second, adamant to see his team-mate’s tyres after the race to prove that it was the wrong decision to pit.
Vettel’s race went from bad to worse when on lap 52 the German crashed into the barrier, having been all over the circuit for most of his time on track. Over team radio he was heard to say ‘I crashed’ as the safety car was deployed.
— Lewis Hamilton (@LewisHamilton) November 1, 2015
With the restart the battle was on, Rosberg able to retain his lead. Bottas managed a move on the Red Bull of Daniil Kvyat for third place with the other Red Bull of Daniel Ricciardo in fifth. A few laps later and Sauber’s Felipe Nasr retired with a puncture, both Mercedes cars making mistakes at the same time, going wide at a corner each in their desperation to win in Mexico.
With less than ten laps remaining Lotus’ Pastor Maldonado, often nicknamed ‘Crashtor’ by Formula 1 fans, veered off course and looked set to crash straight into the barrier. The Venezuelan somehow managed to avoid a collision with the wall and swerved back onto the track without harm.
Rosberg was the first to see the chequered flag, Hamilton close behind him with Bottas rounding off the podium. Kvyat and Ricciardo were right behind in fourth and fifth followed by Williams’ Felipe Massa, Force India’s Nico Hulkenberg, Perez, Toro Rosso’s Max Verstappen and Grosjean.
— MERCEDES AMG F1 (@MercedesAMGF1) November 1, 2015
It was a solid race for the majority of the drivers, one that on the whole was rather uneventful. For Perez it was a great race in front of his home crowd, the Mexican managing a staggering 50+ laps on one set of medium tyres.
There are now only two races left of the Formula 1 season before the drivers’ well-deserved Christmas break. The sport heads to Brazil on 15 November for what will likely be yet another Mercedes win but whether it will go to Hamilton or Rosberg is yet to be decided.
What did you make of the new Mexican track? Leave your comments below.