2021 Mexico City Thoughts
THE BIG PICTURE: Our feeling after last race is getting even stronger as Max Verstappen and Red Bull are firmly putting their foot down on this championship.
EVENT: It is no longer the Mexico Grand Prix. It is now the Mexico City Grand Prix. The reason is very simple -- money. Originally, the federal government was funding the sanctioning fee, so naturally they wanted it named after the country. Now, the city government and local businesses are putting up the money. So, it's the city which gets marketed.
TRACK: For all the enthusiasm of the crowd, and it is great enthusiasm, the track lacks a lot of enthusiasm.
QUALIFYING: Even as late as heading into Q3, nobody expected a Mercedes front row lockout -- something they had not achieved all season -- not even Mercedes themselves. Yet, that's exactly what they got as Red Bull totally failed when the chips were down.
RACE: This rapidly became a foregone conclusion. It was even quickly obvious strategy wasn't going to make a difference. The only excitement was when Perez was catching Hamilton in the final 10 laps for second place.
START: Verstappen plays the slipstream perfectly and confidently outbrakes everyone into the lead, Bottas is too conservative and pays for it when Ricciardo punts him into a spin, Tsunoda and Schumacher unknowingly take themselves out against a helpless Ocon, and Giovinazzi suddenly finds himself in sixth.
VERSTAPPEN: So calm. And refuses to even think about the championship while it's still going on.
PEREZ: The most celebrated third place in racing history.
RED BULL: All of a sudden, they are just one point behind Mercedes, as they look to unseat the dynasty in both championships.
HAMILTON: Lewis is putting on a brave face, but you know he's burning inside.
BOTTAS: The worst thing he could do was leave the outside -- the racing line -- open to a slipstreaming Verstappen at the start. And that's exactly what Valtteri did...
MERCEDES: They will have a lot of midnight oil burning over the next few weeks to try to catch back up.
GASLY: Back to having a great, complete weekend. From practice to qualifying to the race.
FERRARI: A solid performance leaped them over McLaren.
RAIKKONEN: Kimi still has some fight left in him.
RICCIARDO: No matter what happened during the race or pit stop timing, he and Bottas seemed to have a magnetic attraction to each other.
OCON: We have to chuckle. There's Esteban minding his own business, when not one but two drivers swerve into him, one on each side, almost simultaneously. Said drivers both get knocked out of the race, while Ocon goes on his merry way.
ROOKIES: The three rookies finished in the bottom three spots.
WORD OF THE WEEKEND: Olé.
STAT OF THE WEEKEND: 9 to 5 -- No, not work hours. The number of victories Verstappen has over Hamilton this year. Which is beginning to pay dividends in the point standings.
HISTORICAL STAT OF THE WEEKEND: Much was made of Sergio Perez being the first Mexican to get a podium finish in his home country. The closest anyone got before was Pedro Rodriguez who finished fourth in the 1968 Mexican GP in a BRM, after qualifying 12th. He was just 0.44 seconds behind Jackie Oliver who started 14th. Graham Hill won, clinching the World Drivers' Championship, with Bruce McLaren in second. The top four were the only ones on the lead lap.
QUOTE OF THE WEEKEND: Within just a few green flag laps, Lewis Hamilton knew he was facing a hopeless cause, when he told his engineer, "Max is quick!"
QUOTE OF THE WEEKEND RUNNERUP: In typical Daniel Ricciardo fashion, he perfectly described the first lap situation, "For a few seconds it looked awesome and then it looked pretty un-awesome."
SCHEDULE: Further south they go into another fanatical fan base -- the Brazilians.
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