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Martin Brundle: Max Verstappen reaches new level of F1 domination as Red Bull ousts Mercedes in Mexico


Highlights of the Mexico City Grand Prix from Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez.

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Highlights of the Mexico City Grand Prix from Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez.

Highlights of the Mexico City Grand Prix from Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez.

There is a lot of hype and energy surrounding the Mexican GP and there is always a festive atmosphere created by the fiercely partisan crowd willing to accompany Sergio Perez.

If you take that away, along with the dramatic 55,000-seat stadium area and podium, we have to admit that the race hasn’t been particularly good on this late track.

In fact, the top three finishers are Max Verstappen, Lewis Hamilton and Sergio Perez exactly the same as last year with very similar and uninteresting distances. To further emphasize that, Ferrari were once again fifth and sixth, although this time Sainz led Leclerc.

With the six fastest cars in the top six having passed the Alfa Romeo pass qualifying Valtteri Bottas’ impressive, it promised to be something, but sadly the great excitement didn’t materialize.

On the eve of the Mexico City Grand Prix, Sky F1's Martin Brundle drove Mexican legend Pedro Rodriguez's 1970 formula one car, the BRM P153.

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On the eve of the Mexico City Grand Prix, Sky F1’s Martin Brundle drove Mexican legend Pedro Rodriguez’s 1970 formula one car, the BRM P153.

On the eve of the Mexico City Grand Prix, Sky F1’s Martin Brundle drove Mexican legend Pedro Rodriguez’s 1970 formula one car, the BRM P153.

Verstappen deftly eliminates Mercedes’ early threat

Verstappen was smart when he moved from the turret to the right side of the dusty but easier to defend track. This match went well in the hands of second-placed George Russell, who happily accepted the slide until he was forced to move left and partly along.

There have been a few skirmishes recently, at least seven days earlier in Austin, George generously reserved space in turn one for his teammate Lewis Hamilton, and again in turn two, but did not receive the same courtesy swing through the third turn when he was forced wide and bouncing on the curb.

Red Bull's Max Verstappen remained ahead in the first round of the Mexico City Grand Prix, while Lewis Hamilton overtook Mercedes teammate George Russell to finish second.

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Red Bull’s Max Verstappen remained ahead in the first round of the Mexico City Grand Prix, while Lewis Hamilton overtook Mercedes teammate George Russell to finish second.

Red Bull’s Max Verstappen remained ahead in the first round of the Mexico City Grand Prix, while Lewis Hamilton overtook Mercedes teammate George Russell to finish second.

The Ferrari boys were flying in formation side by side behind trying to spot some places, but in reality those first corners decided the running order for the rest of the day: Verstappen, Hamilton, Perez, Russell, Sainz and Leclerc. The 800 meter track comes and goes, the first chicane that defines the race.

The main conspiracy is that both Red Bulls use used soft tyres, and both Mercedes use the new medium tyres on the grid, and for a time when the Red Bull tires start squealing enough, it seems like Mercedes can run much longer at a reasonable speed. and take the initiative.

Lewis Hamilton believes he can provide more of a challenge for Max Verstappen to win if he starts on soft tires at the start of the race in Mexico.

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Lewis Hamilton believes he can provide more of a challenge for Max Verstappen to win if he starts on soft tires at the start of the race in Mexico.

Lewis Hamilton believes he can provide more of a challenge for Max Verstappen to win if he starts on soft tires at the start of the race in Mexico.

Whereas Ferrari is simply not in the races, they have no speed despite a large amount of downforce and are clearly defending something at this 7200 ft lap when they intended to finish one minute later.

It must be said that Ferrari’s power unit in Bottas’ Alfa Romeo flew relatively well although he was ultimately disappointed with just one championship point in 10th from sixth on the grid.

Why did the final strategic battle fail

Red Bull will hit Perez in lap 23 for medium tyres and similarly Verstappen in lap 25. This leaves Mercedes ahead and two big questions. How far can Mercedes go at competitive speeds on their original average tyre, and can Red Bull make it to the end of the race on their newly installed medium tire 48 laps away?

‘Not very’ and ‘yes’ are two answers, rather making a four-horse race a pain. Hamilton going into lap 29 with hard compound tires turned out to be a bad decision.

Toto Wolff and George Russell head to Brazil, where Mercedes hopes to eat into the 40-point gap between them and Ferrari in the Creators Championship.

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Toto Wolff and George Russell head to Brazil, where Mercedes hopes to eat into the 40-point gap between them and Ferrari in the Creators Championship.

Toto Wolff and George Russell head to Brazil, where Mercedes hopes to eat into the 40-point gap between them and Ferrari in the Creators Championship.

Despite his objections to the long run and a set of soft compound tires afterwards, Russell tried his hand at lap 34 for a new hard compound tire in the desert, wisely.

For the 39 F1 races during the pandemic, it was necessary to simplify the tire selection procedures and each driver has since been allocated eight sets of soft tyres, three medium and just two sets of hard tyres. You are not allowed to mix them together. This means that if you might want to run hard mixed tires during a race, you can minimally prepare for them during practice sessions.

Relive all of Max Verstappen's 14 wins this season for Red Bull, breaking the previous record held by Sebastian Vettel and Michael Schumacher.

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Relive all of Max Verstappen’s 14 wins this season for Red Bull, breaking the previous record held by Sebastian Vettel and Michael Schumacher.

Relive all of Max Verstappen’s 14 wins this season for Red Bull, breaking the previous record held by Sebastian Vettel and Michael Schumacher.

In both Austin and Mexico Free Practice Two was extended to 90 minutes and became Pirelli’s test for the 2023 tire specifications. Plus, many teams were quite late in completing the requirements. to run a rookie at least one FP1 in each car, this combined has disturbed the normal flow and preparation for the final two GPs and is certainly not ideal for the show.

Sometimes hard compound tires turn out to be a surprisingly superior move, but when the temperature cools on this low-wear circuit, they don’t really bite into the runway and reach the proper temperature and grip.

Alonso and Ricciardo the stars of midfield

We saw plenty of rough action in the midfield, but Fernando Alonso was definitely the best of the rest until his power department failed. Such was his determination and mode of attack, when he got out of the car he hung his head in despair on a wheel bar. Not the kind of emotion we usually see in him, but he lost a serious point this year because of his unreliability.

Fernando Alonso was forced to retire to Mexico City after experiencing engine problems in Alpine in lap 65.

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Fernando Alonso was forced to retire to Mexico City after experiencing engine problems in Alpine in lap 65.

Fernando Alonso was forced to retire to Mexico City after experiencing engine problems in Alpine in lap 65.

Daniel Ricciardo is an interesting case. He had a good weekend and raced while nursing his starting average tire to lap 44 and then did what Russell wanted to do by putting the soft tyre in. Then he took off like a possessed man. In frustration over passing Yuki Tsunoda, he brought his McLaren to the inside of the double top on turn six in the hopes of distracting the Japanese driver for a wider run.

Instead, they communicated with each other and Tsunoda’s Alpha Tauri left the stage left on two wheels to retire. It was all a bit clumsy and the Managers decided that Ricciardo was entirely at fault, and perhaps when Tsunoda had to retire, Daniel had to incur a 10-second penalty to be added to his race time because he won’t pit anymore.

Daniel Ricciardo feels that his collision with Yuki Tsunoda was not '100% his fault' and he also shares plans and goals for the future.

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Daniel Ricciardo feels that his collision with Yuki Tsunoda was not ‘100% his fault’ and he also shares plans and goals for the future.

Daniel Ricciardo feels that his collision with Yuki Tsunoda was not ‘100% his fault’ and he also shares plans and goals for the future.

This was the impetus for Daniel to drive the way we remember him best and take sixth place despite the penalty, along with ‘driver of the day’ from fans. It will be interesting to see where he shows up next year, and especially in 2024.

It was about action other than some midfield scuffles as Verstappen serenely clinched a record 14th win of the season and Red Bull had a ninth straight win. Congratulations to all of them.

Now it’s time to breathe before the final two races of the season.

MB




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