Lewis Hamilton Wins the Tactical Battle at the Mexican Grand Prix

by Sudha Sundararaj

Lewis Hamilton secured a brilliant win at the 2019 Mexican Grand Prix when he made a difficult one-stop strategy work. This was Hamilton’s tenth win of the season and the eighty-third win of his career.

Sebastian Vettel had to settle for second position after a long first stint put him in contention for the win. Valtteri Bottas completed the podium places after a solid drive.

Charles Leclerc finished in fourth position after he started from pole position. Alexander Albon had a solid performance to finish in fifth position.

Max Verstappen tangled with Hamilton on the first lap and another incident with Bottas sent him to the back of the field for the second race in a row. A fine recovery drive saw the Dutchman finish in sixth position.

Sergio Pérez finished in seventh position and “best of the rest” in front of his adoring home crowd. Daniel Ricciardo finished in eighth position after a long first stint of fifty laps on the hard compound tyres.

Pierre Gasly and Nico Hulkenberg rounded off the top 10 positions as Daniil Kvyat was given a 10-second post-race penalty that dropped him to eleventh position.

The race started under clear skies with air temperatures at 22 degrees C and track temperatures at 39 degrees C at the Autódromo Hermanos Rodríguez circuit.

Verstappen qualified on pole position but was given a three-place grid penalty for failing to slow down for double-waved yellow flags.

Ferrari had a front row lockout with Leclerc on pole. Vettel joined the Monégasque driver on the front row. Hamilton and Verstappen started on the second row. Albon and Bottas were on the third row.

Carlos Sainz Jr., Lando Norris, Kvyat and Gasly started at the front of the grid. The top six drivers started on the yellow-striped medium compound tyres, as did the majority of the drivers with a free choice of tyres.

A Ferrari driver started on pole position for the sixth race in a row since the summer break, albeit by default because of Verstappen’s penalty.

Leclerc made a good start to lead Vettel into Turn 1. Hamilton and Verstappen jostled behind them and came together and ran wide on to the grass.

The excursion dropped Hamilton to fifth-place behind Albon and Sainz. Verstappen fell to eighth position. On lap 5, Verstappen overtook Bottas but suffered a puncture in the process and the subsequent pit stop dropped him to the back of the field.

Leclerc had built a steady lead in front to keep himself outside DRS-range from Vettel. By lap 4, Hamilton was in fourth position behind Albon. Four laps later, Bottas was in fifth position behind the leaders.  

The first pit stops were triggered by the Toro Rosso drivers on lap 10 as Gasly and Kvyat pitted on successive laps. On lap 14, Norris’s pit stop ended in disaster as he had to be wheeled back from the pit entrance after an unsafe release. The Briton rejoined dead last after the errant wheel was properly fitted on.

Albon was the first driver among the leaders to pit and was followed by Leclerc on lap 16 into the pits. Both drivers pitted for medium compound tyres and were on a two pit stop strategy.

Vettel, Hamilton and Bottas extended their first stint in a bid to one-stop. However Hamilton pitted on lap 24, a full thirteen laps before Bottas and Vettel. Hamilton rejoined in fourth position behind Leclerc.

On lap 44, Leclerc pitted for the hard compound tyres in a pit stop that lasted over four seconds. He rejoined in fourth position and Hamilton took the race lead.

Hamilton had to defend from Vettel on much older tyres, but was able to maintain a two second gap to the German. Bottas was also putting Vettel under pressure as he closed within DRS-range.

Leclerc after his second pit stop set about closing the gap to the leaders who were all on one pit stop strategies. With twelve laps to go, he had closed down the gap to Bottas to less than three seconds, but a lockup saw him running wide at Turn 4 and losing time.

Hamilton maintained the steady gap in front to Vettel and clinched the win and moved one step closer to wrapping up a sixth drivers’ title. Vettel and Bottas completed the podium places with solid drives.

Leclerc finished in fourth position ahead of Albon in fifth position. Verstappen finished in sixth position after a fine recovery drive.

Pérez managed to keep a charging Ricciardo behind to secure seventh position at his home race. Kvyat made a desperate lunge to overtake Hulkenberg for ninth position on the final lap that pushed the German into the barriers.

The Russian was given a post-race 10-second penalty for the incident that dropped him to eleventh position. Team-mate Gasly was promoted to ninth position and Hulkenberg finished in tenth position.

Formula 1 now heads to the COTA for the 2019 United States Grand Prix (November 1 – 4 2019) next week.

2019 Mexican Grand Prix Results:

144Lewis HamiltonMercedes711:36:48.90425
25Sebastian VettelFerrari71+1.766s18
377Valtteri BottasMercedes71+3.553s15
416Charles LeclercFerrari71+6.368s13
523Alexander AlbonRed Bull Racing Honda71+21.399s10
633Max VerstappenRed Bull Racing Honda71+68.807s8
711Sergio PerezRacing Point BWT Mercedes71+73.819s6
83Daniel RicciardoRenault71+74.924s4
910Pierre GaslyScuderia Toro Rosso Honda70+1 lap2
1027Nico HulkenbergRenault70+1 lap1
1126Daniil KvyatScuderia Toro Rosso Honda70+1 lap0
1218Lance StrollRacing Point BWT Mercedes70+1 lap0
1355Carlos SainzMcLaren Renault70+1 lap0
1499Antonio GiovinazziAlfa Romeo Racing Ferrari70+1 lap0
1520Kevin MagnussenHaas Ferrari69+2 laps0
1663George RussellWilliams Mercedes69+2 laps0
178Romain GrosjeanHaas Ferrari69+2 laps0
1888Robert KubicaWilliams Mercedes69+2 laps0
NC7Kimi R„ikk”nenAlfa Romeo Racing Ferrari58DNF0
NC4Lando NorrisMcLaren Renault48DNF0
* Provisional results

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