Team Mercedes unexpectedly locked out the front row during qualifying at the 2021 Mexican Grand Prix, with Valtteri Bottas pipping Lewis Hamilton to pole position. Perhaps Saturday was a false dawn for Mercedes as the Red Bulls cancelled one another out in the dying moments of qualifying which left both Verstappen and Perez stranded in 3rd and 4th. But as always the race day is where the points are won and lost. On the opening lap, in the run-up to turn one Hamilton, Bottas and Verstappen approached side by side. Bottas, mindful of his teammate, braked cautiously. Verstappen took the initiative, braked later and swept around the outside. As Bottas fell to third he became the victim of a late-braking manoeuvre by the McLaren of Daniel Ricciardo. Riccardo tagged Bottas’ right rear and pitched the Mercedes into a spin which in turn triggered a number of collisions and two instant retirements.
The safety car was deployed to clear up a debris field of carbon fibre and remove the first corner victims which comprised of the Hass of Schumacher and Alpha Tauri of Tsunoda. With the safety car period over by lap 5, Verstappen pulled out a lead and showed the true pace of the Red Bull. Hamilton could do nothing as he watched Verstappen slowly pull out a comfortable lead.
Reality dawned for Mercedes soon after the first round of pitstops as it gradually became clear that Hamilton had no answer to the pace of the Red Bull ahead of him. Indeed Verstappen pulled out an 11-second gap by lap 45/71 as Sergio Perez, on fresher tyres, began to close the gap to Hamilton in the closing stages of the Grand Prix. Hamilton seemed to be trapped in a Red Bull sandwich.
As Verstappen pulled out a comfortable lead to victory, Sergio Perez drew within a second of Hamilton in the closing stages of the race. But Hamilton held his nerve as Perez closed the gap to under a second as the chequered flag waved to signal the end of the race. With four races remaining in the 2021 world championship Verstappen leads Hamilton by 19 points.
2021 Mexican Grand Prix Results: Top Ten
1. Max Verstappen – Red Bull Racing
2. Lewis Hamilton – Mercedes (+16.555)
3. Sergio Perez Red – Bull Racing (+17.752)
4. Pierre Gasly – AlphaTauri (+63.845)
5. Charles Leclerc – Ferrari (+81.037)
6. Carlos Sainz – Ferrari
7. Sebastian Vettel – Aston Martin
8. Kimi Räikkönen – Alfa Romeo Racing
9. Fernando Alonso – Alpine
10. Lando Norris – McLaren