Bottas, his Mercedes team-mate and the only man who can still delay his championship coronation, secured pole position with a stunningly quick lap – the fastest ever recorded at this twisting Texas track – but the result was largely academic. Even if the Finn goes on to win, Hamilton needs to finish only eighth to be sure of the championship.
This latest effort was not without drama, as Max Verstappen angrily lashed out at his driving over the in-car radio.
As they gathered behind Toro Rosso’s Daniil Kvyat, heading three abreast into a corner, the Dutchman found himself squeezed into the corner, shouting: “It’s his f—— fault, this.”
Verstappen explained: “We were all lining up to do our lap. I had Daniil in front of me. Lewis just drove by like nobody was there, like he didn’t care. I thought, ‘If you don’t care, well I don’t care.’”
Bottas: “I knew how to put it together,” he said, having shaded Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel by 12 thousandths. “I’m glad no one could improve at the end. I’m sure Lewis wants to win the championship in the best possible way. But clearly I’m trying to delay that.”
Tech Tim On Location: F1 Comes to Hollywood Boulevard. October 30 2019
Out with the red carpet and in with the tire tracks! Before heading to Austin, F1 made a quick stop in Tinseltown to treat fans to donuts and noise. Ricciardo, Albon, Bottas, and Verstappen made appearances driving cars from Renault, Mercedes, and Red Bull down a two-block straight.
There was plenty of recent history on display, including a stepped-nose V8 circa 2012 and a T-wing. The crowd was a mix of merchandise-sporting F1 enthusiasts and curious locals and tourists, many of whom were likely experiencing the spectacle of Formula 1 up close for the first time. Good times were had by all!
Words and pix by F1W familia member and Tech Talk contributor Timothy Szwarc.
THE HOST OF F1W IS BEGINNING TO SPLIT AT THE SEEMS AND NASIR CAN ONLY TRY MAKE HIM UNDERSTAND THAT LCH IS THE BEST OF THE MODERN ERA.
Charles Leclerc’s thoughts On the Mexican Grand Prix…
“Starting a race from pole and not finishing first is always disappointing. The beginning of the race went well, and I managed to stay in the lead for the first stint. Wanting to cover off Alex (Albon), we pitted early and committed to a two-stop strategy.
After my first stop the race was very tricky: my second stint was difficult and any time I approached a car ahead I struggled with overheating and couldn’t overtake.
All in all, it’s a shame but if there is something I can learn from today it is to try to help the team more with my feedback from inside the car so that we can make the best call together.”
LCH secured a true champion’s victory at the Mexican Grand Prix but much as he rightly revelled in a win scored completely against the odds, the championship champagne remains on ice for one more week at least.
With his Mercedes teammate Valtteri Bottas finishing in third, Hamilton must wait until the next round in Austin, Texas before, surely, securing his sixth Formula One world title.
Hamilton delivered a perfectly controlled, consummate drive exploiting a race strategy called to perfection by Mercedes. Here was the touch and maturity to run flawlessly at the very limit that has defined Hamilton as the best driver of his generation. Moreover, he managed it with damage sustained on the opening lap and, despite expressing doubts mid-race that it could be done, made it look almost effortless.
Yet he very much did not do it alone. With Peter Bonnington, Hamilton’s usual race engineer, absent for medical reasons, it fell to his replacement Marcus Dudley to step up and he pulled off a blinder alongside Dom Riefstahl who moved into the trackside performance engineer role. They executed with aplomb and will be calling the shots once more when Hamilton surely seals the title at the United States GP.
The achievement alongside his team really hit home. “This week it has been an emotional rollercoaster,” Hamilton said. “Bono [Bonnington] not coming, and being in Mexico which is a very, very hard race to win. We didn’t expect to win, that’s for sure. It is a great feeling, very humbling.”
Verstappen has been stripped of his Mexican Grand Prix pole position after the stewards handed him a three-place grid penalty for failing to slow for Valtteri Bottas’ Q3 crash…
Verstappen was running behind Bottas when the Finn crashed heavily at Turn 17. The Red Bull driver passed one yellow flag en route to bettering his initial leading lap time in qualifying.
After speaking to Verstappen and reviewing video, audio and telemetry evidence, the stewards ruled the Red Bull driver “attempted to set a meaningful lap time and failed to reduce his speed in the relevant marshalling sector.”
“[Verstappen] admitted that he was aware that car 77 (Valtteri Bottas) crashed and did see the car on the left hand side of the track, but was not aware of the waved yellow flag. He also admitted not reducing his speed on the yellow sector.
“The Stewards noted from the on board images of Car 33, that the waved yellow flag was clearly visible and was shown with enough notice.
“The previous driver (Vettel) reduced the speed significantly as per the regulations.
Verstappen celebrated his pole for Sunday’s Mexican Grand Prix but the Dutchman is likely to face stern criticism for what many will see as the dangerous manner with which he sealed the place. His final two laps were superb but for a driver still trying to shake off a reputation for recklessness and lapses of judgment, he was surprisingly unconcerned by his decision not to slow as he rounded the final corner, where Valtteri Bottas’s Mercedes lay after crashing into the barriers.
Verstappen took pole ahead of the two Ferraris of Charles Leclerc and Sebastian Vettel in second and third, with Lewis Hamilton in fourth for Mercedes. Hamilton’s title hopes, however, may yet have taken a boost if Bottas takes grid penalties for the repairs to his car.
Verstappen had been quick throughout but the crucial moments came in the final seconds of the final session. He held the top spot from his first run but as Bottas went though the final corner, he clipped the wall and took a major, 17G impact. The stricken car was left at the side of the track but Bottas was unharmed.
Verstappen entered the corner shortly afterwards, where stewards were waving single yellow flags, denoting that drivers should slow down. However, there appeared to be no yellow indicators on the Dutchman’s dashboard. He would have been expected to back off and in the past drivers have had times set under yellow flags deleted.
Verstappen said he had not slowed. “I was aware Valtteri crashed,” he said. When asked if he had backed off, he made no attempt at deception. “It didn’t really look like it, did it? No.”