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Start Saudi Arabian GP
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Mercedes

Mercedes explain how Verstappen got ahead at Turn 1

Mercedes have explained how Max Verstappen was able to go from third to first by the first corner in Mexico.

Article
To news overview © Red Bull Contentpool/Getty Images

Mercedes have explained the sequence of events that led to Max Verstappen taking the lead on the opening lap of the Mexico City Grand Prix, having originally held a front-row lockout.

Valtteri Bottas started the race from pole position, with Lewis Hamilton alongside, but it was Verstappen who led out of Turn 1 as the Red Bull driver went around the outside of both Mercedes cars under braking for the corner.

From there, Verstappen was untouchable for the rest of the race and went on to claim victory, extending his title lead over second-placed Hamilton in the process.

Speaking afterwards, Mercedes' Andrew Shovlin stated that the team had always been worried about the run down to the first corner as the nature of the long straight meant cars behind could slipstream them.

"It's a very long run," said Mercedes' Head of Trackside Engineering. "Of all the circuits where you can get a front-row lockout, we were worried about all the things that might go wrong at the start."

Shovlin added that, while a plan had been in place, the reality of the start meant that it proved exceptionally difficult to stick to.

"The drivers talk about how they can choreograph themselves, but the reality is, once the lights go out, it's very difficult to to stick to your plan, because it's never quite as you might imagine," he explained.

"It was almost unfortunate for us that Lewis got a better jump than Valtteri. None of the actual launches were bad at all, but Lewis got a good jump and that put him alongside, so he was then unable to tail off Valtteri.

"Obviously, if you're watching from an overhead shot, it's very easy to look at what they could have done differently to prevent Max having that opening on the left side.

"But the reality is, we knew that Lap 1 would be one of our vulnerabilities. It wasn't really for bad starts, it was just the way that it all shook out, they weren't able to block him.

"I don't think we're as good as them braking for Turn 1, Max does a very good job of that. That was another area where we were a bit weak, we weren't able to brake deep enough."

How did the pit wall respond?

With Hamilton down in second place leaving Turn 1, and Bottas falling to the back as a result of contact with McLaren's Daniel Ricciardo, Shovlin said that there was no time to be crying over spilled milk.

Instead, Mercedes set about evaluating the front-running pace, before realising that their race was really with Sergio Perez, rather than Verstappen.

"You're always just trying to deal with the situation in front of you, you're not really crying about what hasn't gone your way," Shovlin commented.

"But you know instantly that having one car there is going to be difficult, you know that the next five to 10 laps are going to give you a very clear picture of the pace.

"Once we could see that Max clearly had the legs on Lewis, and that Perez was also able to be keeping up, we shifted our focus to making sure we didn't lose P2, rather than trying to achieve the impossible with Max, because it was pretty clear that today was not a day that we had a car to win."

Follow Rudy van Buren as he takes you on a flying lap around the Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez, home of the F1 Mexican Grand Prix.

RN365 News dossier F1 2021 Mexico City Grand Prix

The latest news about the Mexico City Grand Prix straight from Mexico City.

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