Mexico City, Nov 8 (IANS) Red Bull’s Max Verstappen took a big step towards the 2021 Formula One World Championship with a dominant win in the Mexico City Grand Prix, with title rival Lewis Hamilton a distant second.
Starting third on the grid, Verstappen used the long run down to the first corner to slipstream past the Mercedes duo of Hamilton and Valtteri Bottas to take the lead, as pole man Bottas fell to the back after being tagged by Daniel Ricciardo’s McLaren on Monday morning (IST).
Once at the front, Verstappen comfortably extended his lead over Hamilton and was never threatened as he cruised to his ninth win of the 2021 season, Xinhua reports. “The start was nice and it was all about trying to brake as late as (I could). I kept it on the track, came from third to first and that was basically what made my race because I could just focus on myself, and we had incredible pace in the car,” said the Dutchman, who has led more laps in 2021 than every other driver combined.
“There’s still a long way to go (in the championship). It’s of course looking good but also it can turn around very quickly. I’m looking forward to (the next round in) Brazil, I also have very good memories there.”
Behind Verstappen, Hamilton only just held onto second ahead of the Dutchman’s teammate Sergio Perez, whose every move at his home race was cheered to the echo by a partisan crowd.
AlphaTauri’s Pierre Gasly had a quietly excellent run to fourth, ahead of the Ferraris of Carlos Sainz and Charles Leclerc. Sebastian Vettel took seventh for Aston Martin, with Alfa Romeo’s Kimi Raikkonen equalling his best finish of the year with eighth.
Fernando Alonso finished ninth for Alpine, and McLaren’s Lando Norris rounded out the top-10.
Verstappen’s win puts him on 312.5 points, 19 ahead of Hamilton with just four races of the season left. Bottas stays third on 185 points.
In the constructors’ championship, Mercedes still lead with 478.5 points, but Bottas’ non-score means Red Bull are now just one point adrift. Ferrari have leapfrogged McLaren in the battle for third and now have 272.5 points.
The next round of the 2021 F1 season is next weekend’s Brazilian Grand Prix at the Interlagos circuit in Sao Paulo.