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Formula 1

Winners and losers from the F1 Mexico City Grand Prix

Sunday's Mexico City Grand Prix may turn out to be a pivotal moment in the championship, as Red Bull driver Max Verstappen dominated. Who were the winners and losers from the race at the Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez?

Column
To news overview © Red Bull Contentpool

Red Bull's Max Verstappen extended his lead in the Drivers' Championship over Mercedes rival Lewis Hamilton in Mexico, thanks to a daring overtake on both Silver Arrows and a controlling drive at the head of the field.

RacingNews365.com takes a look at who were the winners and losers from the weekend.

The Winners

Max Verstappen

After a superlative drive in the United States two weeks ago, Verstappen picked up where he left off in Mexico.

Looking serene throughout Friday practice, Saturday gave Red Bull cause for concern as they simply couldn't unlock their car's performance when the chips were down in the final part of qualifying.

But Verstappen banished all the memories of a bad Saturday within seconds of the lights going out on Sunday. Finding a little bit of space as Valtteri Bottas appeared to be trying to make life easy for Hamilton into Turn 1, Verstappen found the perfect braking point to sail around the outside of both – team boss Christian Horner revealing after the race that the Dutch driver had practiced that braking point on his reconnaissance laps to the grid.

From there, Verstappen simply disappeared up the road in what was probably his most dominant drive of the year. So far up the road by the end, he even had the time and mental capacity to slow down dramatically ahead of the lapped Bottas to ensure the Finn's fastest lap attempt was ruined – perfectly illustrated by Verstappen's only error of the day being an, "Oh, silly me", moment as he pulled off a little lock-up into the stadium section. Unfortunately for him, those efforts were in vain, as Bottas simply pitted again to get another fresh set of tyres.

A 19-point lead means momentum is firmly with Verstappen with four races to go, but it's not in the bag just yet.

Lewis Hamilton

Hamilton, like Verstappen, was tremendous in Mexico City.

While Bottas mastered the single lap on Saturday, Hamilton made the most of the start to move up into second and set about trying to keep pressure on Verstappen out front.

With Verstappen's pace proving too much for Hamilton, the reigning World Champion then had to worry about the second Red Bull behind. Perez briefly looked capable of jumping Hamilton through the pit-stops, particularly when the Mercedes driver was blocked by Ferrari's Charles Leclerc on his out-lap, but that chance evaporated seconds later.

Given that Perez was clearly in the quicker car, Hamilton had to hold his nerve as the Mexican approached in the closing stages. With Perez no doubt feeling the weight of expectation from the crowds in the stands, a lunge wasn't out of the question, and Hamilton just managed to keep Perez at arm's length to the chequered flag.

Given the extent of Verstappen's dominance, a seven-point loss is far from a disaster for Hamilton.

Sergio Perez

Another weekend where Perez joined in the hunt at the front, with the home hero revelling in the adulation of the capacity crowd.

Topping the times in third practice showed that he was at one with the RB16B ahead of qualifying, but Red Bull's troubles with their rear wings and their tyres saw them slip behind Mercedes at the crucial moment.

From there, it was always going to be difficult for Perez to rescue a huge result, although he benefitted from the incident that took Bottas out of contention.

Perez tried to keep Hamilton under pressure throughout the race, but never really managed to generate a proper attack in the closing stages, while the potential for a pass through the pit-stop sequence came and went in a flash.

That's three podiums in a row for Perez, and the 15th of his career, and it couldn't come at a better time for Red Bull as they close to just a point behind Mercedes in the Constructors' Championship.

Pierre Gasly

AlphaTauri's Pierre Gasly had an anonymous race of the best kind, as he got through the melee at the start and slotted in behind his Red Bull stablemates and Hamilton for the restart.

Never particularly likely to join in the battle for the podium against those cars, it was all about keeping ahead of the Ferraris at the chequered flag. This was something Gasly managed with ease, coming home 18 seconds clear of the Ferrari duo.

"Everything was under control with Charles [Leclerc] behind," Gasly said afterwards.

"I was able to pull away nicely and manage the entire race well from fourth position."

Ferrari

A well-executed race from Ferrari as they close in on third place in the Constructors' Championship.

With Charles Leclerc and Carlos Sainz struggling to keep on terms with Gasly ahead, the team employed a split strategy to throw everything at the AlphaTauri driver. This relied on some cooperation from Leclerc to let Sainz through when the Spaniard approached on fresher tyres.

With Sainz not able to catch Gasly by the chequered flag, the pair swapped back to take a composed fifth and sixth place and a 13.5-point lead over McLaren as momentum is now firmly with the Scuderia with four races to go.

The Losers

Mercedes

With Mercedes lacking outright speed in race conditions, points went begging on Sunday. Having had a front-row lockout, a second-place finish is scant reward, and that seemed to come about due to their drivers trying to be too generous to each other.

With Hamilton making the better getaway from the line, Bottas appeared to be caught between trying to make sure Hamilton was ahead of him through Turn 1, while also trying to keep Verstappen behind.

With the Red Bull finding space and then braking far later than either Mercedes, this became irrelevant for Bottas, whose generous donation of space to Hamilton saw him appear to be slightly hesitant on the apex of Turn 1. This caught out Daniel Ricciardo behind and, with the two making contact, both drivers had their races ruined.

Any chance of getting Bottas back into the points faded as the Finn simply couldn't overtake the McLaren on track, with insult added to injury when Bottas suffered a Monaco-esque wheel nut problem at his mid-race stop. While not quite as catastrophic as the Monaco stop, Bottas was mired in the lower half of the field and, from there, his only task was simply to try taking away the fastest lap point from Red Bull – a point he himself wouldn't score.

It's been a tough couple of weeks for Mercedes, which must be counting down the days to the likes of Qatar and Jeddah – circuits that are expected to suit the W12 better.

Yuki Tsunoda

Yuki Tsunoda didn't do a whole lot wrong in Mexico, let me be clear about that.

Tsunoda's Saturday qualifying faux pas was simply a case of the Japanese rookie not being particularly smart about getting out of the way in a manner that wouldn't distract other drivers at a high-speed, high-commitment part of the track. There wasn't anything inherently bad about it, Tsunoda had just been clumsy and it didn't deserve the flack that it got from Red Bull afterwards.

But that flack spoiled Tsunoda's weekend which, up to that point, had actually been one of his stronger events as he'd made it into Q3 on merit.

His engine penalty meant that he started from 17th, and he was helpless to avoid the Turn 1 fracas. He was out on the spot.

With the way the weekend eventually fell into place for Red Bull, their stance on Tsunoda softened by Sunday evening. But Tsunoda will surely be leaving Mexico feeling quite bitter about the treatment he got from his employers.

Antonio Giovinazzi

The Alfa Romeo driver briefly ran in the points at the start of the race, climbing as high as sixth in the melee at Turn 1 and enjoying a little scrap with the Ferrari of Sainz.

But any chance of points went up in smoke quite early on as Alfa Romeo pulled Giovinazzi in for his stop on Lap 16. This proved too early, as he came out in the midst of the Ricciardo/Bottas squabble and lost oodles of time.

While Alfa did score points with a canny drive from Kimi Raikkonen, it was a missed opportunity for Giovinazzi at a time where he's back as a contender for his own race seat in 2022.

In our latest RacingNews365.com video, we take a look at how grid penalties could be a crucial factor in the intense title fight between Lewis Hamilton and Max Verstappen

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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