Baku, October 31, AZERTAC
Lewis Hamilton took another seven points out of Nico Rosberg’s championship lead on Sunday with a superb win over his Mercedes team mate in the Formula 1 Gran Premio de Mexico 2016, according to the official website of Formula 1. Hamilton, who now trails by 19 points with two rounds remaining, was 8.3s clear at the chequered flag, with Ferrari's Sebastian Vettel completing the Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez podium, despite finishing fourth on the road.
Vettel was eventually given third place after Verstappen was penalised post-race for an incident on the 68th lap when the Dutchman ran wide in Turn 1 and then over the grass in Turn 2 to stay ahead of the Ferrari - a move Hamilton had already performed there on his own while leading on the opening lap, thanks to a glazed brake. Verstappen was told by Red Bull to give up the place but chose not to, and his intransigence enabled Ricciardo to close on to Vettel’s tail.
The supersoft tyres didn’t help the way Red Bull had expected at the start - and Verstappen was lucky to hold on to third as Nico Hulkenberg nearly got by in his Force India going into Turn 1. The Dutchman then dived inside Rosberg and they made reasonably heavy contact before the German managed to keep the place despite having to go on to the grass. Meanwhile, Ricciardo pitted to ditch his supersofts for mediums as early as the first lap, because of a safety car deployment, and began a doughty fight back from 17th place to contention. His race was aided by a second stop, for softs on the 50th lap, which set up his dramatic chase after Vettel and Verstappen.
Verstappen had always been in podium contention, but it was Vettel who took over the lead after Rosberg pitted to switch from softs to mediums on the 14th lap and Hamilton did likewise on the 17th. The Ferrari then ran another remarkable 15 laps before the former champion finally pitted for mediums on the 32nd. That set up his chase after the Red Bull youngster.
Verstappen himself had had an opportunistic go at Rosberg on the 49th lap when the German had lost time going over a kerb, and as the Red Bull got out of shape at the apex Rosberg got the place back, and the incident enabled a lapped Jenson Button in the McLaren to make his own opportunistic pass on Carlos Sainz’s Toro Rosso.
As the three contenders closed right up because of Verstappen’s off-road incident, and Vettel complained long and loud to his crew, Ricciardo got alongside the red car going into Turn 4, but couldn’t quite get the job done as Vettel was moving over towards the apex.
Thereafter the three, who had been nose-to-tail, spread out, and Verstappen crossed the line 0.9s ahead of the Ferrari to Vettel’s chagrin. The two men then exchanged gestures after the finish line. Back in parc ferme, Verstappen headed to the podium room, only to be told that he had received a five-second penalty for leaving the track and gaining an advantage, which dropped him to fifth. He was escorted from the room as Vettel took his place.
Hamilton’s 51st career victory thus saw him tie Alain Prost for second in the all-time stakes, but with two races left Rosberg’s 19-point standings lead means he is still on target for the crown even if he finishes second to his team mate in both of them.