With an ambitious pit strategy and a hell of a performance, Lewis Hamilton came from a third-place start to win the Mexican Grand Prix. Hamilton had an opportunity to clinch the driver’s championship multiple races early, but he didn’t quite open up a wide enough gap between himself and his teammate Valterri Bottas.
Hamilton pitted way ahead of everyone else, causing Ferrari to pin its hopes on the Mercedes slowing down as its tires got chewed up. That deterioration never came, with Hamilton laying down the fastest midsection of any driver on 40-plus-lap-old tires once Mercedes cleared him to use max power. The driver himself thought he had pitted too early with a lap-23 stop, but—after some first-lap contact with Verstappen—Mercedes had to get creative to secure a win for Lewis.
Verstappen, for his part, had to deal with a lot of bad luck. He had already received a three-position grid penalty after not slowing for a yellow flag during qualifying, losing pole position despite setting the fastest lap. And then, on lap five of the race, he had a puncture that sent him into last place. Despite all of those setbacks, he still finished in sixth.
Multiple teams struggled with pit stops this week, with Leclerc losing four full seconds after his rear right tire wasn’t properly secured on the first try. That, plus a few problems with traffic and an unforced error causing him to go wide, sealed Leclerc just outside of the top three.
His teammate Sebastian Vettel, though, put up a fight until the end. Sandwiched between Bottas and Hamilton, he had to fight off an overtake by Bottas while contending for the lead. He may have had newer tires, but due to some traffic issues and some fantastic driving by Hamilton, Seb couldn’t take the lead. He finished in second.
But his defense against Bottas was a great example of where the two teams stand right now. Even when he could get DRS, Bottas couldn’t outrun Seb’s Ferrari on the straights. Cornering performance brought the lap times in line, but there wasn’t an easy way for Bottas to get past. After putting a lot of pressure on Seb, his car started getting hot from running in the turbulent air and Bottas backed off, ending up in third.