Rate the Race and driver of the weekend Round 19, Mexico 2018
Rate the race: Mean Reader score 6.42 ,9/19 races so far
This year’s race scored slightly lower than 2017 and 2016 (6.84 and 6.45 respectively) but much higher than 2015 (4.70).
2017 saw Hamilton with a ‘mere’ 66 point lead over Vettel, compared to this year’s 70 point lead, but, as with last year, it was crucial for Vettel to win this race in order for the WDC to be carried forward for another week.
However, this weekend the Red Bulls were on fire, not literally, well not at this point. Ricciardo pulled a fabulous single lap out of the bag to steal pole from team mate Max Verstappen, leaving Hamilton and Vettel to make do with P3 and P4.
With all to race for (and only WDC5 to lose) Hamilton made possibly his best ever start, up the middle of the grid, overtaking a (bogged down?) Ricciardo to take P2, as Verstappen stormed into P1. Alonso, an innocent bystander, picked up part of Ocon’s front wing, which led to yet another retirement on Lap 5.
There was some wheel to wheel racing between Verstappen and Ricciardo; Ricciardo and Hamilton; Hamilton and Vettel. Sainz was second to retire, followed by local Mexican driver Perez, meaning all Spanish speaking drivers were out of this race. Both Mercedes drivers exhausted their tyres at pretty much the same place and were forced into a two stop race.
Perhaps the most ‘tragic’ moment of the race was when Riccado’s car smoked heavily leading to (yet another, his eighth this season) retirement, due to a suspected hydraulic issue, not dissimilar to the one his team mate suffered in FP2.
There was a slight feeling of déjà vu this race, as with last year, Ricciardo retired and Verstappen won. Vettel came second, Raikkonen third and Hamilton fourth, bagging WDC5 into the bargain. One down, one to go for championships won this year. The WDC is over, but WCC caries on for another week.
Honourable mentions for Hulkenberg (second successive sixth place finish), Leclerc finished seventh (again) and Vandoorne ended his pointless run of 15 races by coming home eighth, with Ericsson and Gasly taking the final points places
Driver of the Weekend: Max Verstappen, 72.50% of reader vote.
Quite a lot of déjà vu this race as Max has again won our coveted Driver of the Weekend accolade, for the fourth time this year. Having set the fastest single lap in FP1 and FP, then having to retire the car in in FP2 due to a suspected hydraulic issue, Max bounced back to set the fastest lap on Saturday in FP3.
It looked like this could be the weekend where Max stole another of Vettel’s ‘youngest ever’ records; that of youngest ever pole sitter. Sadly this was not to be, as having dominated his team mate all weekend, he was demoted to P2 as pole eluded him by 26 thousands of a second.
Determined to make up for not getting pole and with nothing to lose, Verstappen set off like a bat out of hell, getting into P1 by turn one, and pretty much staying there until the end of the race. He had some wheel to wheel racing with Raikkonen (albeit on fresh tyres) but was pretty much unchallenged throughout the race.
There was some doubt as to whether it would be a one or two stop race (due to tyre degradation) but by the time that decision had to be made, Max had a ‘free’ pit stop anyway. He romped to the chequered flag where he picked up his sixth F1 career win. Well done Max!!