Before the start commened in Mexico, the FIA had penalized the original pole sitter Maxx Vertsappen after failing to slow down for yellow flags in qualifying. Verstappen was downgraded from pole to 4th starting position which pushed Charles Lecrec up to pole.
Turn one has been the decision maker in years previous and on that turn in Mexico, multiple front running drivers made slight contact with each other around that turn. This collision is what caused 4th running Verstappens’ tire to puncture and very quickly fly away completely. He did not win or make podium, but he was able to weave his way through the pack from last place, to finish at an impressive 6th place.
Red Bull’s Alex Albon came into the pits for a tire change on lap 15, and Ferrari’s race engineers immediately made the call for Lecrec to come in as well. The race was truly defined by the communication and strategy between race engineers and drivers. Whether it was an undercut like Lecrec’s or staying out for 50 laps (71 total laps) like Vettel did, the Grand Prix in Mexico can be broken down by pit stops and tire choice.
Another race engineer who called in for the undercut which was equivalent to a two stop race was Mercedes. Hamilton started his complaints right away, “It feels like we stopped way to early.” This stress was muttered all the way through until about ten laps left, when the top four drivers were separated by 6 seconds.
Sainz and Norris also looked like compelling drivers until Mclarens’ misfortune began. Norris came into the pits on the 14th lap and his left front tire was falling off as he drove away. If he would of passed the white line on the pit exit, he would of been automatically disqualified.
Just before that white line, Norris was able to stop and quickly met by his team who rolled him back to the garage to make the proper adjustments. Norris continued the race after repair, but ultimately retired as no ground was gained from last place.
Hamilton could trust his race engineer as he was able to win the race but fell just short of winning the Drivers Championship as Bottas finished 3rd and is still in the running for the year. Ferrari did have one pleasure while their undercut strategy failed Lecrec, and that was Vettel’s 2nd place finish. There are only three races left on the calendar and the following Grand Prix is just 7 days away.
- United States — November 3, 2019
- Brazil — November 17, 2019
- Abu Dhabi — December 1, 2019