A climactic final few laps and what could have been a farcical podium closed out what had threatened to be a really dull Mexican Grand Prix. Here is our usual heroes and zeroes review of what ended up being an explosive 2016 Mexican Grand Prix.
2016 Mexican Grand Prix – heroes
Heroes – F1 race stewards
Rarely do I give the race stewards much credit but they were mostly on the ball today in Mexico. The decision to immediately apply the 5 second time penalty to Max Verstappen was a smart move. The passionate Mexican fans deserved to see the right drivers on the podium after the race.
Question marks were raised about the ‘lack of continuity’ between Hamilton cutting the chicane on lap 1 (no penalty) and Verstappen (penalty). For me Hamilton did not gain an advantage but Verstappen did. Simple.
Hero – Lewis Hamilton
The 3-time World champion is doing everything he can to try and snatch a fourth title. Flawless all weekend you sense Hamilton is coming to terms with his trials and tribulations in 2016.
If he does not claim another title in Abu Dhabi in November, it will not be for the lack of trying. You suspect that while he will be disappointed, there is a degree of maturity emerging that has been lacking in the past, and he might accept he has lost out this time around due to factors outside his control.
Hero – Nico Rosberg
Despite finishing 2nd and not being able to match Hamilton all weekend, this was the drive of a champion. Unable to answer Hamilton’s speed, Rosberg looked to be in serious trouble. Instead he pulled out an epic lap in Q3 to qualify on the front row. He then managed his race performance to fend off attacks from Max Verstappen.
The German’s nerves must have been frayed after contact with Max on the opening lap and being narrowly missed by the Dutchman – who was all crossed up in a failed attempt to pass. It might not be the prettiest or most convincing way to close out a championship but it is proving effective so far.
Hero – Sergio Perez
The darling of the Mexican crowds gave it everything in trying to pass a Williams – any Williams – today. Now more familiar with the rear suspension of the Williams than most of their technical staff, Perez was racey all day.
Perez deserved a better result on the day for his efforts. Whilst other drivers were moaning about cars in front not moving out of the way – for position – Sergio tried his best to make genuine moves on the track. For most of the race Perez was the only thing that made
Hero – Sebastien Vettel
Purely for turning the airwaves blue with his language in the final few laps. Priceless.
Secretly I was hoping Vettel and Verstappen were going to don luchador masks and wrestle for the 3rd step of the podium. Maybe next year.
2016 Mexican Grand Prix zeroes
Zero – Sebastien Vettel
Driving standards turned to double standards on Sunday in Mexico City. After what feels like months of complaints about Max Verstappen’s late moves in the braking zone by Vettel, the German pulled what looked a lot like a ‘Verstappen’.
Vettel completely lost his head following Verstappen cutting the first chicane. With the Dutchman slowing and the Ferrari falling in to the clutches of Ricciardo, Vettel found himself sandwiched between the Red Bull’s. Vettel moved late to defend against Ricciardo whilst distracted by his continue attempts to pass Verstappen.
Following the introduction of specific rules prohibiting moves in the braking zone, the fact the race stewards did not penalise Vettel left many scratching their heads. In trying to put to bed an issue that has dogged the season so far, the actions today might have made it even more complex.
Zero – Max Verstappen
For all the praise of his gung-ho style, it caused some serious issues during the Mexican Grand Prix. A catalogue of incidents culminated in the Dutchman losing his 3rd place- from using Rosberg as a brake assist in to turn 1 on the opening lap to cutting the same corner defending against Vettel. It was not pretty at times.
These are the moments when Verstappen’s lack of experience in lower formulae shine through. He is fast enough and skilled enough to race in F1, but I have always doubted his race craft. The Mexican Grand Prix was another example of not enough Sunday’s spent at a quiet, spectator-less race track mixing it with other hot-headed and ambitious teenagers.
Zeroes – moaning drivers
Both Vettel and Verstappen at points during the race moaned over the radio about cars in front. For Vettel that seemed like no surprise but this time it was nothing to do with blue flags and back-markers.
Instead Vettel was annoyed at Felipe Massa’s attempts to fend him off for position because it was slowing the Brazilian’s own race down. Similarly Max Verstappen complained about being ‘stuck’ behind team mate Daniel Ricciardo.
There is a simple answer boys: overtake the car in front. Or remove their radio buttons.
2016 Mexican Grand Prix race rating:
4 out of 5 but purely due to the final few laps.
2016 Mexican Grand Prix post-race rating:
5 out of 5. Drama, intrigue, accusations – it had it all.