Double figures for Lewis Hamilton: it’s his tenth seasonal victory: his driving skills accompanied by a wide race interpretation lead him to take the best result also when the first row is completely Red. Ferrari fan may be very disappointed since the increadible amount of 9 poles in the season gave birth to only 3 seasonal wins. Max has returned back to his previous “version”: the talented driver with a lot of heat and less reasoner. It’s pity because this weekend he showed the performance to be head of all.
Before the race analysis: what did we see on Saturday’s qualifying?
The Mexican track confirmed to be very challenging for the teams. Ferrari confirmed the advantage on long straights belonging to sector 1. The gap with Mercedes was of 3-4 tens in favour of Maranello. The time gained from the Italian team was reduced to “only” 2 tens if we compare the first sector of Red Bull. It’s a fact that Verstappen got the fastest lap in Q3.
Limiting the gap with Ferrari was the key to catch the fast lap in Quali which didn’t mean Pole Position this time: the young “Bull” driver broke the safety rule keeping full throttle despite the accident occurred to V. Bottas.
At first time, the stewart seemed to choose the path of no-penalty but the Vertappen statements at the press (and due to rising rumours inside the Circus) had no choice but to punish Mad Max (3-place penalty on grid). It was another turning point of the weekend since Verstappen had shown increadible pace and consistency throughout the entire weekend.
Under these circumstances, Hamilton was probably slower than Vettel, Verstappen and also Bottas: as Charles he had the strength of doing a good first attempt.
Another potential victory spoiled by Ferrari. The guilty side this time is the strategy (again).
The fastest pace and consistency were probably the ones of Verstappen but his race was ruined at the very first conrner after the start due to his rashness. Vettel closed the race to Hamilton in a very hard manner but from Canada GP the new political direction is not to take actions for these kind of manouvres.
Ferrari strategy was a flop.
The low-drag baseline configuration provides advantages in the long straights in qualifying but lead to higher wear during the race. It’s probably related to the the concept of the car and cannot be corrected with the setup without losing much lap time. Even though, if you start 1-2 from the grid, you’re expected to bring home the win: and what’s more is that it’s not the first time it happens.
Ferrari wanted to protect Leclerc from Albon but the Red guys didn’t catch the real danger coming from Hamilton. I still don’t understand the reason of mounting the medium (yellow) compound on Leclerc: that move uncovered the strategy of 2 pits which would have been follwed by Leclerc. Why not using the hard and then having the double choice of another pit stop or finish the race?
Moreover, why simply copying the Mercedes strategy and Hamilton? Ferrari top speed makes the car difficult to be overtaken: in these situation it’s better to make the same moves of the opponent (remember Alonso in Ferrari stuck behind Perez (due to Force India top speed).
Mercedes. Every possible chance is taken.
We’re at the end of the season. We know the quality of Mercedes in tyre management. In the car consistency is supported by an accurate and balanced strategy you get there: on the top of the podium. Also on the Mexican weekend Toto & Co. showed to be very sly on strategies. It’s very likely they weren’t 100% sure to finish the race with Hamilton. However, they carried out thier decision considering what done by Ricciardo and Verstappen with the hard compound (66 laps for the Red Bull driver at the end of the race).
Vettel: it’ a Sebastian who seems to have found a little ligth out of the tunnel. Not 100% perfect throughout the weekend but we’re attending to his come back. Great tyre management and good strategy on his side, not well supported by the team. GRADE: 7/10.
Leclerc: This weekend he didn’t have the same pace of Sebastian, despite the Pole Position. For the entire race he had to control the tyre wear on his Ferrari. Many faults are not his but of the team instead. GRADE: 6.5/10.
Bottas: He had the speed. But he doesn’t have the shoot when it counts. The perfect driver to support a champion-level driver as Hamilton. GRADE: 7/10.
Hamilton: we already know that when he complains at the radio it’s going to be difficult for the other drivers. Very good strategy, great tyre management. Still he doesn’t need to overtake to get 1st. GRADE: 8.5/10.
Perez: the reliable and fast driver we’have know these last years. He suffered the attacks of Ricciardo but great defense. GRADE 8/10.
Albon: not still fast as Verstappen, but the important are the points brought home which from his arrival are more than the one of his teammate. GRADE 7/10.
Binotto and strategists: 9 poles and 3 wins. It’s not (only) bad luck. The percentage of fails it’s too high: in this weekend the evolution of the track was underrated. The 15° C more that the previous days had an immense impact on tyre working range: which turned out in less graining on the Pirelli. As Arrivabene said last year, Ferrari needs a practical-on track thinker to win races. And if it’s not enough, pit mistake on Leclerc stop: +3.5 sec (at least). GRADE: 4/10.
Some more sentences are devoted to M. Verstappen: this GP was the chance to win. He recoverd from the accident of the first lap with an amazing pace. A total amount of 66 laps on hard tyre! Next week he’ll probably have another chance in a circuit where also last year came very close to the victory. GRADE: 5.5/10.
What are your thoughts? Let’s write us in the comments!