It was a fine race by Lewis Hamilton at the 2023 Mexico City Grand Prix as he finished a comfortable second to Max Verstappen and his performance will be remembered for a gutsy overtake on Charles Leclerc, where he said man and machine needed to go all out to get the move done.
After showing strong pace to occupy a podium spot, Hamilton was faced with holding off two Ferraris on vastly younger tyres but the dynamic changed when a red flag was thrown for Kevin Magnussen‘s crash on Lap 34.
Hamilton opted to take a set of scrubbed medium tyres, giving him a short-term gain but a potentially big task to hang on to the tyres for the remaining 36 laps of the race from the standing restart.
It was a critical to pass Leclerc early on, and Hamilton made the decisive move of his race on Lap 40 by producing a brave overtake up the inside that saw him dip two wheels onto the grass to pull it off.
“This weekend we’ve been very, very slow on the straights, and in general we’re quite draggy on the straights more often than not,” Hamilton told the media. “So trying to follow closely through Turns 16 and 17 was really the only way that I could get close enough and have an opportunity to make the DRS impactful.
“Finally I pressed every button on the steering wheel and used maximum power and I didn’t know how far across he [Leclerc] was going to go, but in a split-second decision I decided to go to the right. There was just enough space there and Charles was really fair, but it was great racing.”
The pass gave him the line to dictate the path through the corner at Turn 1 and after getting track position he used DRS from Turn 3 to Turn 4 to seal the move, before setting about building a lead he could conserve his tyres with to claim 19 valuable championship points.
Hamilton‘s pace was so strong that despite being on an identical strategy to his teammate George Russell, who was also poised with the same task of clearing a Ferrari at the restart, the more experienced Brit would finish 28 seconds ahead of the other Mercedes.
Can Hamilton catch Perez?
Hamilton is now 20 points behind Sergio Perez with three rounds to go as he bids to finish as F1‘s 2023 runner-up to Verstappen in the standings.
Following his disqualification at the United States GP many thought the chance had gone as he trailed by 39 points with four rounds to go, but now it’s back on the cards after the Mexican crashed out on the opening lap of his home race.
The next opportunity he has to reduce the gap comes at the Brazilian GP, which will be held at Interlagos and will take place from November 3-5.
Mercedes recorded a 1-2 at the 2022 edition as Russell won his first ever race ahead of Hamilton, who clashed with Verstappen in the early stages of the Grand Prix.