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Verstappen wins Mexican F1 GP with Lewis Hamilton second after red flag

If the flag fell with the altogether too familiar air of Max Verstappen sweeping to another victory and indeed another Formula One record, at least behind the dominant Dutchman the British contingent had flair to spare at the Autódromo Hermanos Rodríguez.

Lewis Hamilton delivered a superlative drive to claim second with verve and control and in so doing set up a mighty showdown in the final three races for second place in the drivers’ championship with Sergio Pérez, who crashed out at his home race.

Hamilton has the experience, of course, but the young British guns were also on fire, with McLaren’s Lando Norris on a charge. He showed aggression and some brilliantly executed passes to move from 17th on the grid to fifth. Charles Leclerc was third for Ferrari.

Max Verstappen wins the Mexican Grand Prix: Formula One – live reactionRead more

For Verstappen this was very much business as usual, the world champion unchallenged at the front of the field in a race that was stopped midway after Haas’s Kevin Magnussen had a high-speed crash from which he emerged unhurt.

Having secured his third title in Japan, Verstappen is clearly intent on not relaxing his stranglehold on the season.

This win is his 16th this season, surpassing his own previous record of 15 set last year and this, his 51st career victory, also equals Alain Prost’s tally and leaves him behind only Hamilton, Michael Schumacher and Sebastian Vettel in the standings.

Having taken the lead off the start from third on the grid, passing both the Ferraris on the drag to turn one, he was untouchable and was 14 seconds ahead at the flag. The only real jeopardy he faced was the restart caused by Magnussen’s accident and that too was summarily controlled.

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Lewis Hamilton celebrates his second-place finish for Mercedes at the Mexican Grand PrixLewis Hamilton celebrates his second-place finish for Mercedes which closes the gap on Sergio Pérez in the drivers’ championship. Photograph: Isaac Esquivel/EPA

Hamilton, however, had much more work to do having started in sixth and the seven-time champion put his head down to deliver the sort of run that has put him at the peak of the sport for so long.

The team failed to call his strategy correctly at the last round in Texas but this time were on the money and Hamilton did his part behind the wheel. He passed Daniel Ricciardo, and Carlos Sainz on the track before an absolutely bravura move in a superb late-braking dive up the inside of Charles Leclerc to claim second place.

He was enormously pleased. “I am so happy with that, great pit stop, great strategy, it was a difficult weekend but to come away with good points is mega,” he said. “I’m really proud of the team. It’s been a difficult couple of weeks and to bounce back from last weekend with the end result. This is really well done.”

The Mercedes team principal, Toto Wolff, was also beaming at the performance and the indication that the upgrade they brought to the car at the last round was proving as effective as they hoped. “The smile is because the car was strong,” he said. “Today was the first time that Lewis said the car is actually good and it was a brilliant, brilliant drive. It gives us confidence in the routes we are going.”

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For Pérez it was another shocker. He attempted to go round the outside of Leclerc on lap one at turn one, ran out of space and hit Leclerc as he turned in. It sent the Mexican spinning off and he had to retire the car.

That has reinvigorated Hamilton’s shot at claiming second in the drivers’ championship. He was 39 points behind going into the race but now trails by 20, with three races remaining, and the British driver will believe it can be done, not least given Pérez’s poor form.

Norris was equally pleased with his run as he made a series of passes including a perfectly timed attack on George Russell with four laps to go that sealed fifth.

“I didn’t think I would get back to P5,” he said. “But I played the overtakes well. It’s enjoyable racing like this.”

Pérez leaves his home race with his future at Red Bull once more under intense scrutiny but for Mercedes and Hamilton this was perhaps as optimistic as they have been all season as finally there is a sense that next year Verstappen might not quite have it all his own way.

Sainz was fourth for Ferrari, Russell was sixth for Mercedes. Ricciardo was seventh for AlphaTauri, Oscar Piastri eighth for McLaren, Alex Albon ninth for Williams and Esteban Ocon 10th for Alpine.