Lewis Hamilton continued to keep his championship chances alive with victory in the Mexican Grand Prix on Sunday, but team-mate Nico Rosberg claimed second to remain in control of his own destiny.
Despite a worrying turn one on the opening lap for both Mercedes AMG Petronas Formula One Team drivers when both ran across the grass, Hamilton of his own doing and Rosberg due to a bang of wheels with Max Verstappen, Hamilton was pretty much untroubled all afternoon to clinch his fifty-first career triumph.
Rosberg on the other hand had to contend with Verstappen a second time, surviving a lunch by the Red Bull Racing driver into turn four, before ultimately the Dutchman slipped back and into the clutches of Sebastian Vettel behind him.
Verstappen finished third on the road, but was handed a five-second time penalty just as he pulled into the pit lane for leaving the track and gaining an advantage when defending from Vettel at turn one, with the Dutchman crossing the grass and retaining his position.
Such was the timing of the penalty, the podium ceremony had to be delayed slightly while Vettel ran from the pit lane to the arena section, where the podium sits at the Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez, with Verstappen, perhaps wisely, making a quick exit from the room before Vettel arrived.
The penalty for Verstappen also promoted team-mate Daniel Ricciardo to fourth, with the Australian having made two stops compared one of those ahead of him, although he was lucky to escape on the penultimate lap when he attempted to pass Vettel into turn four, the two twice touched but escaped with no more than a flat-spotted tyre for Ricciardo.
The incident is under investigation from the stewards, with Ricciardo believing that Vettel moved under braking to try and defend his position.
Kimi Raikkonen finished sixth in the second Ferrari after a late race pass on Nico Hülkenberg, who took his Sahara Force India F1 Team machine to seventh after making one set of Medium tyres last for 57 laps. Raikkonen made the move into turn four, and Hülkenberg spun as they got close to touching, though he did not lose any further positions due to the gap to those behind.
Valtteri Bottas was eighth for Williams Martini Racing ahead of team-mate Felipe Massa, who drove for much of the afternoon with Sergio Perez on his tail, the second Force India driver was left frustrated unable to make a pass stick despite appearing to have the quicker car.
With Hülkenberg seventh and Perez tenth, Force India out-scored Williams by one point in Mexico, meaning they extend their advantage in the Constructors’ Championship to nine points with two rounds to go.
Marcus Ericsson drove on one of the strongest races of the season for the Sauber F1 Team to finish eleventh, but the team are still looking for their first points of the season. It was a sensational result as he was facing the wrong way at turn three on the opening lap after getting caught up in a three way tangle with Esteban Gutierrez and Pascal Wehrlein.
It seemed to be a case of three into one did not go, with Gutierrez in the middle pitching Manor Racing MRT racer Wehrlein into Ericsson. Wehrlein was out on the spot and caused a safety car period, while Ericsson pitted for a new front wing, which was his only visit to the pit lane all afternoon.
McLaren-Honda F1 Team drivers Jenson Button and Fernando Alonso finished twelfth and thirteenth, with both drivers getting passed Jolyon Palmer in the closing stages, but the Renault Sport Formula 1 Team racer did well from the back of the grid to take fourteenth after making his one and only pit stop on the opening lap of the race to discard the Supersoft and switch to the Medium tyre under the safety car.
Carlos Sainz Jr finished fifteenth on the road for Scuderia Toro Rosso but dropped behind the second Sauber of Felipe Nasr due to a time penalty for forcing Alonso off track on the opening lap. Sainz only made one pit stop throughout the race, but had already pitted when the penalty was handed out, so the time was added to his race time at the chequered flag.
Daniil Kvyat also found himself losing a spot due to a penalty in the second Toro Rosso, with the Russian dropping behind the second Renault of Kevin Magnussen after being penalised five seconds for passing Romain Grosjean around the outside of turn twelve and completing the move off track.
The Haas F1 Team endured a tough Mexican Grand Prix, with Gutierrez surviving a first lap tangle and finishing nineteenth ahead of team-mate Grosjean in twentieth, ahead only of Manor’s Esteban Ocon.
Rosberg continues to lead the Drivers’ Championship from Hamilton, with the gap at nineteen points with just two races of the season to go in Brazil and Abu Dhabi.
Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez Race Result
|4||3||Daniel Ricciardo||AUS||Red Bull-Tag Heuer||+20.858||12|
|5||33||Max Verstappen||NED||Red Bull-Tag Heuer||+21.323||10|
|7||27||Nico Hulkenberg||GER||Force India-Mercedes||+58.891||6|
|10||11||Sergio Perez||MEX||Force India-Mercedes||+1:16.798||1|
|11||9||Marcus Ericsson||SWE||Sauber-Ferrari||+1 Lap|
|12||22||Jenson Button||GBR||McLaren-Honda||+1 Lap|
|13||14||Fernando Alonso||ESP||McLaren-Honda||+1 Lap|
|14||30||Jolyon Palmer||GBR||Renault||+1 Lap|
|15||12||Felipe Nasr||BRZ||Sauber-Ferrari||+1 Lap|
|16||55||Carlos Sainz Jr||ESP||Toro Rosso-Renault||+1 Lap|
|17||20||Kevin Magnussen||DEN||Renault||+1 Lap|
|18||26||Daniil Kvyat||RUS||Toro Rosso-Renault||+1 Lap|
|19||21||Esteban Gutierrez||MEX||Haas-Ferrari||+1 Lap|
|20||8||Romain Grosjean||FRA||Haas-Ferrari||+1 Lap|
|21||31||Esteban Ocon||FRA||Manor-Mercedes||+2 Laps|