Verstappen is mighty in Mexico

2018-10-31 06:00

THE 2018 Mexican Grand Prix wasn’t the most dramatic race of the season but it was certainly an unusual one.

For Sebastian Vettel and Ferrari the equation was quite simple as nothing other than victory could stop Lewis Hamilton from clinching the driver’s championship.

However, victory was nearly always out of the question as Red Bull’s Max Verstappen, dominant for most of the weekend, jumped into the lead of the race and never looked back.

Though it was Daniel Ricciardo who started from pole, his teammate and Hamilton overtook the Red Bull driver before they reached turn one.

It was fairly easy for Verstappen to clear off in the lead of the race and replicate his performance from 2017. Behind him Hamilton, Ricciardo, and Vettel were engaged in a close scrap for most of the race.

Hamilton, with a Merc shredding its tyres, would eventually be out of the equation and off the podium but still in position to win the title.

Though Vettel turned a much quicker pace on the Supersoft tyre in the second stint of the race, Verstappen was already too far up the road. He was on the verge of taking second place of Ricciardo but the Aussie driver suffered a suspected engine failure on lap 62 bringing his number of retirements for the season to eight.

Further adrift, Kimi Raikkonen came home in third for Ferrari while Hamilton and Valtteri Bottas were fourth and fifth. It was a peculiar day in terms of performance for Mercedes who struggled significantly with tyre-wear throughout the race. Such was their lack of pace that Hamilton finished nearly 80 seconds behind Verstappen while Bottas was lapped by the race leader.

It was a good day for Renault with Nico Hulkenberg in sixth ahead of Sauber’s Charles Leclerc in seventh. While Fernando Alonso retired early on after hitting debris on lap one, his McLaren teammate, Stoffel Vandoorne, finished eighth while Marcus Ericsson and Pierre Gasly completed the top 10. Unfortunately, the fervent crowd support for their local driver Sergio Perez wasn’t enough, as the Mexican driver failed to reach the chequered flag.

Other than a few anxious moments towards the end of the race, given Ricciardo’s suspected engine failure, Verstappen delivered a flawless drive to claim the fifth win of his career.

The amazing fact is that at age 21, Verstappen has not yet reached his full potential.

It’s an exciting thought then that even from dominant performances, like in Mexico, Verstappen could and probably will only get better with time.

As much praise as Verstappen deserves for his performance, the limelight too belongs to Hamilton. It doesn’t feel all that long ago that a rookie British driver scythed around Alonso into turn one at the start of the Australian Grand Prix in 2007.

There would likely have been more than a few who would’ve predicted that Hamilton would become world champion but few would’ve imagined a tally of five world titles.

The inevitable question is where Hamilton ranks in the list of the all-time greatest Formula 1 drivers. But how do you quantify greatness? Some would cite race wins or number of titles as the determining factor.

If this is the most logical way of quantifying and calculating greatness then an astonishing five world titles has pushed Lewis Hamilton into the company of Juan-Manuel Fangio and the great Michael Schumacher. And he’s not done yet.

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