Lewis Hamilton won the 2016 F1 Mexican Grand Prix resulting in him taking a chunk of seven points off of Rosberg’s championship lead. Hamilton now trails by 19 points behind Nico Rosberg in the championship battle, which might go down to the wire.
Verstappen had finished third on the road but was given a five second time penalty after the race for driving off the track and gaining an advantage on the 68th lap. The Dutchman ran wide at turn 1 and over the grass at turn 2 to stay ahead of Vettel who had increased the pressure on Verstappen. Verstappen was told by Red Bull to give up the place but chose not to, and his intransigence enabled Ricciardo to close on to Vettel’s tail. Vettel was emphatic over the short-lived happiness of Verstappen. But, fate came to bite him as he was awarded a 10 sec time penalty which graduated Ricciardo to 3rd at the 2016 F1 Mexican Grand Prix.
Hamilton had had a similar incident as Max Verstappen at the start of the race but was lucky not to have picked up a penalty.The supersoft tires didn’t help the way Red Bull had expected at the start – and Verstappen was lucky to hold on to third as Nico Hulkenberg nearly got by in his Force India going into Turn 1. The Dutchman then dived inside Rosberg and they made reasonably heavy contact before the German managed to keep the place despite having to go on to the grass. Meanwhile, Ricciardo pitted to ditch his super soft for mediums as early as the first lap, because of a safety car deployment and began a doughty fight back from 17th place to contention. His race was aided by a second stop, for soft tires on the 50th lap, which set up his dramatic chase after Vettel and Verstappen.
Vettel having started on soft tires took over the lead for 15 laps when Rosberg pitted for a change from soft to medium tires on the 14th lap while Hamilton reciprocated Rosberg in the 17th lap. Vettel amazingly managed to stretch his soft tire for 32 laps before finally pitting for the mediums, setting up his chase after Verstappen. Verstappen himself had had an opportunistic go at Rosberg on the 49th lap when the German had lost time going over a kerb, and as the Red Bull got out of shape at the apex Rosberg got the place back, and the incident enabled a lapped Jenson Button in the McLaren to make his own opportunistic pass on Carlos Sainz’s Toro Rosso.
As the three contenders closed right up because of Verstappen’s off-road incident, and Vettel complained long and loud to his crew, Ricciardo got alongside the red car going into Turn 4, but couldn’t quite get the job done as Vettel was moving over towards the apex.Thereafter the three, who had been nose-to-tail, spread out, and Verstappen crossed the line 0.9s ahead of the Ferrari to Vettel’s chagrin. The two men then exchanged gestures after the finish line. Back in parc ferme, Verstappen headed to the podium room, only to be told that he had received a five-second penalty for leaving the track and gaining an advantage, which dropped him to fifth. He was escorted from the room as Vettel took his place.
The race had also begun with drama when Haas’s Esteban Gutierrez tagged Pascal Wehrlein in the heavy traffic in Turn 1 and speared the Manor across the road into Sauber’s Marcus Ericsson. Both Gutierrez and Ericsson were able to continue, but Wehrlein was done for the day. That was what necessitated the safety-car deployment as the Manor was taken away, but by lap four they were racing again and Hamilton pulled easily away from Rosberg to maintain the advantage he would hold – barring pit stops – until the end of the race.
The strategy for the majority of the teams during the 2016 F1 Mexican grand prix was making the one stop work. Behind Hamilton, Rosberg, Ricciardo, and Vettel , Hulkenberg looked likely to keep sixth despite strong pressure from Raikkonen, but the Ferrari driver finally made a move in Turn 4 on the 67th lap. Hulkenberg was on 30-lap old medium tires and was unable to hold back Raikkonen, on fresher tires. Hulkenberg finished in front both the Williams of Bottas and Massa who finished 8th and 9th respectively.
Home favorite Sergio Perez in the sister Force India had a frustrating race as he spent almost the entire race trying to go past Massa and eventually finished 10th and took home a point.
A terrific recovery from Ericsson saw Sauber finish 11th and the closest they’ve been all year to the points, as Button and McLaren team-mate Fernando Alonso overwhelmed Palmer, who bravely made it through on a set of mediums after stopping to change from his super soft tires on the first lap. Felipe Nasr was 15th for Sauber after running until lap 49 before switching mediums for super soft tires.
Renault’s Kevin Magnussen, Toro Rosso’s Daniil Kvyat, Gutierrez, Haas’s Romain Grosjean and Manor’s Esteban Ocon completed the finishers. Both Toro Rosso drivers were given five-second penalties, Sainz for easing Alonso off track on lap one, Kvyat for going off-track to gain an advantage over Grosjean.
Hamilton’s 51st career victory thus saw him tie Alain Prost for second in the all-time stakes, but with two races left Rosberg’s 19-point standings lead means he is still on target for the crown even if he finishes second to his team mate in both of them.