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Pierre Gasly, Max Verstappen, Kimi Raikkonen and Sebastian Vettel were RaceFans’ Star Performers of the Mexico City Grand Prix. Here’s why.


Pierre Gasly

  • Made good on his optimism of being able to perform in Mexico City’s high altitude, qualifying fifth as the ‘best of the rest’ in his Honda-powered AlphaTauri
  • Got up to fourth place after Bottas was knocked out of contention, with only Verstappen, Hamilton, and Perez ahead of him on track
  • Had more than enough pace in hand to keep the Ferrari tandem of Leclerc and Sainz at bay over the course of the race – finishing 17 seconds ahead of Leclerc at the end
  • Capped off a ‘perfect weekend’ with a fourth place result, and twelve points to bring AlphaTauri level with Alpine in the constructors championship

Max Verstappen

  • Led second practice and was favourite to win pole position, but losing part of his rear wing at the end of final practice became an omen for qualifying
  • Could only manage third place on the grid after being caught up in Perez’s and Tsunoda’s incident at the end of Q3
  • Wasted no time atoning for qualifying disappointment with a rocket start off the line, and millimetre-perfect braking to swoop past the Mercedes at turn one for the lead
  • Overwhelmed any and all potential challengers with his pace from start to finish, taking his ninth win of the season, edging closer to the championship with every passing weekend

Kimi Raikkonen

Raikkonen raced into the points again
  • Collected reprimands for a track limits error in practice and violating the pit entry rules after Q1 was red flagged
  • Out-qualified Giovinazzi for the second time in the last four races, and moved up to tenth on the grid with free tyre selection after Tsunoda and Norris’ grid penalties were applied
  • After losing ground at the start largely due to others going off around him, rose into the top 10 with relative ease
  • Matched his season best finish of eighth place, holding off Alonso and Norris, bringing Alfa Romeo’s points total into double digits

Sebastian Vettel

  • Benefitted from Tsunoda and Norris’ grid penalties to start ninth – with free tyre choice – after coming 0.273 seconds short of getting to Q3
  • Ran solidly inside the top 10 for most of the race after avoiding the opening lap crash
  • Encouraged that he did not fall behind the Ferrari duo of Sainz and Leclerc as much as before
  • Came away with a seventh place finish, scoring his best result in a complete grand prix since finishing second at Azerbaijan

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Lance Stroll

Stroll suffered a setback with a crash in qualifying
  • Was already due to start from the back of the grid due to power unit element changes, then crashed out during Q1 after getting onto the dust at Peraltada, resulting in an overnight repair job
  • Ran off track early in an attempt to overtake Ricciardo on track, though he did make a fairly strong pass on Russell with no headaches
  • Flattered to finish 14th, one lap behind Vettel, and never looking like a factor to crack the points in any stage of the race

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And the rest

Lewis Hamilton

  • Worked through balance issues throughout the weekend, right up until it came good in qualifying – as he brought up second place in a Mercedes front row lock-out
  • Made a good enough launch to get past team mate Bottas – but was by Verstappen around the outside
  • Was at risk of conceding second to Perez after pitting before the Red Bulls, but was able to gain track positions with a strong sequence of opening laps and maintain second place
  • Had just enough in hand to keep Perez at bay on the last lap of the race, finishing in second place – losing another seven points to Verstappen in the championship with four races left

Valtteri Bottas

  • Wasn’t particularly fancied for a good weekend in Mexico City but led first practice, Q1, and then took his second pole position in three races with a blistering lap early in Q3
  • Swarmed by Verstappen and Hamilton at the start, then punted off at turn one by Ricciardo in the start of a long-feared first corner skirmish in the pack
  • Spending several laps after the collision stuck behind Ricciardo on track certainly would not have been enjoyable, but not as painful as a slow pit stop on lap 42 caused by trouble with the left front wheel
  • Taking the fastest lap bonus with a course record was hardly a solace for a 15th place result, two laps off the lead, on a weekend that had so much more to offer

Sergio Perez

Sergio Perez, Red Bull, Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez, 2021 Perez chased Hamilton but had to settle for third
  • Fastest in final practice but qualified fourth after going off track behind Yuki Tsunoda in a braking zone, which became the hottest post-qualifying talking point of the day
  • Led six laps in front of his home crowd as he ran long on his first stint, giving him the chance to start his second stint with fresher tyres than Hamilton ahead of him
  • Closed down the margin to Hamilton, lap after lap, until he was within DRS range of Hamilton with ten laps remaining
  • One last gasp push to get past Hamilton didn’t quite work out – but Perez took the honours of being the first Mexican driver to stand on the podium in their home grand prix

Lando Norris

  • Aided Ricciardo in qualifying by giving his team mate a slipstream, as Norris had a back-of-grid penalty for power unit element changes
  • Even still, he got to Q3 on the medium compound tyres – a big statement of intent after McLaren entered the weekend cautious about their prospects of success
  • Soldiered on through the field after the opening lap, into the top 10 in less than 20 laps, and up to seventh by the time he pitted for new tyres
  • Ensured the day would not be a total write-off for McLaren as he finished tenth for a single championship point

Daniel Ricciardo

Poll: Should Ricciardo have been penalised for first-lap collision with Bottas?
  • Made great improvements over the weekend to advance into Q3 – with some help from the slipstream provided by Norris
  • Might have been able to qualify sixth if not for a mistake at the Foro Sol complex on his final Q3 lap
  • Tipped pole winner Valtteri Bottas into a spin at the first corner after locking up, fortunate not to incur a penalty for his role in the incident
  • Had an awkward run-in with Stroll shortly after, and other than staying ahead of Bottas for much of the race, failed to gain significant ground en route to a 12th place finish

Esteban Ocon

  • Q2 appearance was a surprise, especially after it was confirmed that he would take a back of grid penalty for power unit element changes
  • Amazingly kept running with no major trouble, despite being hit by both Schumacher and Tsunoda at the Ese Moises Solana on the opening lap
  • Demonstrated a level of ‘fighting spirit as he made good overtakes in the start of the race on soft tyres and gained six places from the start to finish in 13th
  • Came away feeling upbeat about the improvements made over the weekend – even if there were no points to show for it

Fernando Alonso

  • Had the speed to advance to Q2 before Q1 was red-flagged, then couldn’t put together a fast enough lap after the session resumed, resulting in a Q1 elimination for the first time since Monaco
  • Thankful, and fortunate, not to be a casualty of the turn one incident – nor to be overtaken beyond the track limits at turn one as he feared going into the weekend
  • Maximised the opportunities available after starting on a fresh set of medium tyres, managing them for more than half distance
  • From 12th on the grid, finished in ninth, his best result in five visits to Mexico City for his career – far more than what may have been expected from Alpine at Mexico

Charles Leclerc

Report: Ferrari praise drivers’ “team spirit” after swapping places twice
  • Disappointed after qualifying, finishing eighth and last out of the Q3 runners that weren’t guaranteed to start at the back – even if he was less than a tenth away from Sainz
  • Passed Sainz on the opening lap, and went for an early pit stop to try and pressure Gasly into a two-stop strategy
  • Fell off during his stint on the hard tyres, and swapped places with Sainz with on lap 59
  • Being swapped back into fifth place at the end was not necessarily representative of Leclerc’s race performance

Carlos Sainz Jnr

  • Maximised his Q3 result by qualifying sixth, albeit a quarter of a second behind Gasly
  • Ran behind Leclerc for the early portion of the race, opting to go long on his first stint on the medium tyres and making it work with savvy tyre management
  • Pushed hard on his second stint, and got his request fulfilled to swap places with Leclerc in a bid to chase down Gasly for fourth late in the race
  • When he couldn’t close in on the AlphaTauri ahead of him, he conceded a 6.4 second advantage over Leclerc to let his team mate back through, finishing sixth after “one of my best races of the season”

Yuki Tsunoda

  • Showed strong pace throughout all three practices, continuing his recent run of good form from Austin
  • Finished third in Q2 on soft tyres, taking advantage of a true glory run…
  • …but was then framed as the fall guy for Red Bull’s failure to win pole position after Tsunoda went off track to let Verstappen and Perez through, only for Perez to run off track behind him ahead of Verstappen
  • In the end, his race ended at the second corner after he hit the back of Ocon’s Alpine and crashed out

Antonio Giovinazzi

After climbing to sixth, Giovinazzi finished out of the points
  • Had a chance to progress into Q3, but locked up the rears on a hot lap in Q2, resulting in a spin and a light touch with the barriers
  • Did not waste his forward progress on the opening lap, running as high as seventh in the first stint of the race, ahead of Vettel and Ricciardo
  • Questionable decision from pit wall to stop on lap 17 dropped him out of the points, and 54 laps on a set of hard tyres was just too much to ask in the end
  • With his F1 future looking more and more bleak with every passing week, he needed a better result than another 11th, but the end result was largely down to a strategic mis-step

Mick Schumacher

  • Split the two Williams in FP3, indicating potential for a minor upset in qualifying
  • Was three-quarters of a second off another shock Q2 placement, and had no concern over the complaints from the other side of the Haas garage
  • Caught up in the turn one melee at the start, tripped over Ocon and retired with damage

Nikita Mazepin

  • Got to within half a second of Schumacher’s best time by the end of Q1, but was at the centre of more intra-team turmoil after his request to move ahead of his team mate was denied
  • Found a positive moment in the spotlight for a change, making a good start and holding position ahead of the likes of Norris and Ocon
  • Then plummeted back down the order after a slow stop, burned through his tyres too quickly, and was once again last of all classified drivers – three laps down in 18th

George Russell

  • Got to Q2 despite his team having to change two gearboxes and an engine within 24 hours of the start of qualifying, plus lacklustre pace from the Williams FW43B all throughout practice
  • Avoided all the opening lap chaos ahead of him to settle into the top 10 early in the race
  • Went almost the entire race without his drinks tube, which he accidentally pulled out on the first lap
  • Fell out of the top ten after a series of DRS-assisted overtakes as Williams’ struggles at altitude resumed; slumped to a 16th place finish at the end

Nicholas Latifi

  • Had a decent chance to progress into Q2, but didn’t have the speed at the end of Q1 to advance
  • Save for a brief exchange with Stroll, ran about as anonymous a race as one could manage – finishing 17th and 15 seconds behind Russell on track

Over to you

Vote for the driver who impressed you most last weekend and find out whether other RaceFans share your view here:

  • Vote for your 2021 Mexico City Grand Prix Driver of the Weekend

2021 Mexico City Grand Prix

  • Red Bull pin hopes on high altitude tracks after “Hamilton stronghold” COTA
  • Domenicali wants more F1 sprint events in 2022 after “overwhelmingly positive feedback”
  • More F1 venues following Silverstone’s lead in aim for full crowds
  • F1 poised to confirm ‘Sprint Qualifying’ races as teams agree financial terms
  • F1 announces revised starting times for 22 rounds of 2021 season

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