Verstappen scorns chaotic Mexico City GP for record-breaking win

Max Verstappen survived a red flag to ease to victory in the 2023 Mexico City GP

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Even a red flag couldn’t ruffle a supreme Max Verstappen at the 2023 Mexico City Grand Prix, as the Dutchman claimed a 16th win in 2023, beating his own record from 2022.

Verstappen made the rest of the grid look stationary at lights out, flying past the Ferraris and looked set to stroll unhindered to his fifth victory at the Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez.

Leclerc was hit by Sergio Perez at the first corner but thrived without his left front-wing endplate, before the script was torn up at the halfway stage when Kevin Magnussen suffered a failure on his rear left wheel and slammed into the wall at turn 10.

The Dane was unharmed, but the same couldn’t be said for the Tecpro barrier and a red flag was called while repairs were made.

Verstappen was once again untroubled going into turn one but Mercedes gambled with both their drivers on the medium tyres, and it worked initially with Hamilton passing Leclerc for second on Lap 40.

Ferrari hoped his hard tyres would be the stronger rubber to finish the race but the gap only grew lap-on-lap consigning Leclerc to third place – the 11th straight pole position he’s failed to convert into victory.

Fellow medium runners George Russell and Oscar Piastri couldn’t follow suit though, and with overtaking as difficult as ever at the Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez it was Lando Norris who animated the late stages.

He’d fought (and lucked) his way from 17th on the grid into the points before the red flag but a hellish restart undid more than half of that good work.

That only seemed to light an even fiercer fire under Norris though, he recovered from 14th to scythe through the field and even overtook fifth-placed Russell at the death when the Mercedes got out of shape at turn six with three laps to go.

Behind that pair, Daniel Ricciardo silenced his critics with a superb performance for AlphaTauri.

The most consistent driver of the weekend finished seventh to leapfrog both Haas and Alfa Romeo in the constructors’ championship netting at least $10 million for his team – not bad considering Ricciardo‘s salary is reportedly just a fifth of that.

It could’ve been even more for AlphaTauri had Yuki Tsunoda not undone a strong weekend with a thoughtless move on Oscar Piastri that ended his challenge for the points while the McLaren man finished behind his compatriot in eighth.

There was a brutal barnfight out of the points, with Lance Stroll tipped round clumsily by Valtteri Bottas, but Alex Albon and Esteban Ocon stayed out of it to complete the top ten.

Nightmare before Halloween for Sergio Perez

Sergio Perez looks haunted after crashing out of his home Mexico City GP | Mark Thompson/Getty Images / Red Bull Content Pool

The race looked to be over by the first corner as both Ferraris bogged down off the line and Verstappen caught a flier to surge between the Scuderia and into the lead.

He’d got to the inside of Leclerc heading into the corner but the problems came when Perez caught a hurricane-level second wind in the slipstream to slingshot to the outside of the Ferrari.

Spotting the chance to take a dream lead at his home race, Perez just cut in too quickly and was sent airborne by the sandwiched Leclerc, who had nowhere to go in an ironic inversion of the infamous start to the 2017 Singapore GP.

Red Bull engineers tried desperately to get him back out in front of 110,000 adoring fans, but the RB19 had slammed back down to earth very heavily and was too damaged to continue with Perez looking on the verge of tears as he stepped out of the car.

That didn’t disguise a grossly optimistic move from Perez, who needed a solid result under pressure having failed to finish on the podium in his last five races.

Hamilton‘s result plus a fastest lap point at the death means the gap in the battle for second in the drivers’ championship has narrowed to just 20, despite the Brit failing to score in the two races preceding Mexico City.

“It’s a total racing incident,” Perez told Sky Sports during the race. “But we are back there, our pace is there, we knew what was wrong and the results will come but I’m more sad about this end result.”

Adam Dickinson
Adam Dickinson
An international multi-award-winning journalist, Adam Dickinson has written for Total-Motorsport.com since June 2022 and also contributes to TNT Sports, Eurosport and the Rugby Paper. He's also had articles published in the Daily Telegraph and several local newspapers, previously worked for Last-Lap.co.uk and FeederSeries.net in motorsport, and graduated with a First-Class Journalism Degree from the University of Sheffield having also studied in Oklahoma. Adam started watching F1 by accident in 2007, catching the last race in Indianapolis, and attended his first race as a journalist at the 2023 British Grand Prix.
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