Max Verstappen wins in Mexico City and extends the F1 lead

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Formula One F1 – Mexico City Grand Prix – Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez, Mexico City, Mexico – November 7, 2021 Red Bull’s Max Verstappen celebrates on the podium after winning the race REUTERS / Andres Stapff TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY

Red Bull’s Max Verstappen celebrated a dominant victory in the Mexico City Grand Prix on Sunday, taking 19 points clear of Lewis Hamilton in the Formula 1 championship with four races to go.

Seven-time world champion Hamilton finished second for Mercedes, keeping Red Bull’s Sergio Perez at bay who became the first Mexican to take the podium at a jubilant Hermanos Rodriguez Autodrome.

Red Bull has reduced the gap to Mercedes champions in the constructors’ classification to one point.

“There is still a long way to go, but he obviously looks good, but he can also turn very quickly,” said Verstappen, 24, of his big step forward in the battle for the championship.

Verstappen took the checkered flag 16,555 seconds ahead of Hamilton to seal his ninth win of the season, his third in Mexico and his 19th in his career.

The Dutchman took the lead in the first corner from third on the grid, going three steps away from the two Mercedes and timing the braking to perfection, in what proved to be the decisive moment of the race.

“I kept it on track, I went from third to first and that was basically what made my race because I could only focus on myself and we had incredible pace in the car,” he said.

Verstappen therefore gave Hamilton no chance to fight back once the safety car, deployed after the fights further back, was out of the way.

Hamilton, the most successful driver of all time with 100 career wins, said he gave it his all after being closely chased by Perez in the final 10 laps.

“I feel like I’ve maximized it with what I have,” said the Brit.

“We have four races to go and we just have to keep pushing.”

Mexican party

Perez was hoisted high on the shoulders of his mechanics as he waved the Mexican flag to greet the crowd before the podium ceremony.

“Of course I wanted more, I wanted to get a double for the team, but I didn’t have a single chance to pass,” he said after his third consecutive podium after third places in Texas and Turkey.

“If I had had a small chance, I would have done it,” added the 31-year-old, who also became the first Mexican to lead his home race after Verstappen and Hamilton pitted.

The safety car was deployed until lap four after a collision at the start between Haas ‘Mick Schumacher and AlphaTauri’s Yuki Tsunoda, while McLaren’s Daniel Ricciardo crashed into Valtteri Bottas’ Mercedes losing his front wing.

Bottas, who had taken a surprise pole position on Saturday, spun and dropped to 18th after an immediate pit stop.

The Finn finished 15th but pitted for fresh tires to snatch Verstappen’s fastest lap at the end, denying the Dutchman a valuable bonus point without making it to Mercedes as he was out of the top 10.

“You have to congratulate Red Bull because the pace was just on another level,” said Mercedes team boss Toto Wolff. “I don’t think we could have won the race even if we had stayed ahead of the first corner.”

AlphaTauri’s Pierre Gasly finished fourth with Ferrari duo Charles Leclerc and Carlos Sainz fifth and sixth to lift the Italian squad ahead of McLaren and third in the constructors’ standings.

Sebastian Vettel was seventh for Aston Martin, with other champions Kimi Raikkonen and Fernando Alonso eighth and ninth respectively for Alfa Romeo and Alpine. Lando Norris took the final point for McLaren.

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