Home Sport What we learned from the Mexican GP

What we learned from the Mexican GP

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Beyond Verstappen’s metronomic consistency, a stirring Mexican Grand Prix produced several other lessons about the road ahead for F1.

Picture: Rudy Carezzevoli / Getty Images via Red Bull Content Pool.

IT HAS become so routine that Max Verstappen’s achievements for Red Bull this season are almost taken for granted as he demonstrated again on Sunday, winning the Mexico Grand Prix with aplomb after starting third on the grid.

The 26-year-old Dutch world champion said his record-increasing 16th win of the season and 51st of his career was “incredible”, an unarguable description made more so alongside his teammate Sergio Perez’s travails at his home event.

Beyond Verstappen’s metronomic consistency, however, a stirring race produced several other lessons as Daniel Ricciardo rediscovered his mojo, Lando Norris underlined his huge potential and Lewis Hamilton confirmed his and Mercedes’s revival.

AFP Sport looks at three things we learned from a dramatic day:

Hamilton back in the frame

Seven days after his disqualification in Austin, Lewis Hamilton was second behind Verstappen again with a show of vim and speed that raised Mercedes’ spirits and hopes of finishing runners-up in the title race.

The seven-time world champion added a point for fastest lap to his personal haul as he claimed a record-increasing 197th career podium, trimming Perez’s 39-point advantage to 20 with three races remaining.

“It’s swings and roundabouts,” said Hamilton, whose name was chanted by the crowd. “And mostly dependent on Checo. They have the championship-winning car and he’s been unfortunate. Having lost points last week, I didn’t think I’d be in shooting range, but we’ll give it our best shot.

“Honestly, it’s not going to make a big difference to my life whether I come second or third. It’s more important to get the team second in the constructors’ – it’s a bonus if we get second in the drivers’…”

Ricciardo heaps pressure on Perez

Daniel Ricciardo rolled back the years to qualify fourth, beating Perez, and then finish seventh for Alpha Tauri, proving he has recovered from his broken hand with the team’s best result of the year.

At 34, the eight-time race winner is a strong candidate to replace the Mexican if Red Bull choose not to retain him, even if he has a contract for 2024. Norris may also be a possible target to run alongside his friend Verstappen.

Team chief Christian Horner weighed his comments delicately, praising one as “outstanding” and sympathising with the other – Perez having retired after a first lap collision – but it is clear Perez needs strong podium finishes to keep his current job.

Stylish Norris completing the ‘jigsaw’

After starting 16th and gambling on soft tyres, Norris carved through the field in style to finish fifth for McLaren, making light of a poor re-start after the red flag.

It was the drive of the day including, he said, “one of the best stints I’ve ever had” as he confirmed his potential as a race-winner and future champion.

“I know I need to put a few things together, the final pieces of the jigsaw,” said the 23-year-old Briton. “Then I’ll be very confident.”

After 12 podium finishes, a maiden victory is his next step if McLaren can keep him and deliver a winning car.

Agence France-Presse

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