Verstappen vs. Vettel – Mexican GP 2016

Apart from the race-opening and the final few laps (which resulted in a bunch of penalties which changed the results), this year’s Mexican GP wasn’t all that exciting even if there was a bit of genuine race-action…

The Top-10:

  1. Lewis HamiltonHamilton went extremely wide in the first corner but received no penalties and drove to an unchallenged victory. It’s good news for him (as Lewis has to win every remaining race to stay in the championship race) – but also brought about some questions about rules regarding the leaving of race limits.
  2. Nico RosbergRosberg had a very similar incident in the first corner but in his defense, he was prevented from returning to the track by another car. Rosberg deserves all due credit for this race even if he didn’t even come close to Hamilton.
  3. Daniel RicciardoDanny must have been as surprised about his podium as everyone else, given that he crossed the finish-line behind Verstappen and Vettel. Vettel even got up to the podium before he was given a 10-second penalty. This result also seems to have assured that Ricciardo will be third in the championship.

As mentioned above, the race was mostly uninteresting except for the final few laps. After Max Verstappen went off during an overtake attempt by Sebastian Vettel, Ferrari insisted that Verstappen had to yield his position to Vettel. However, Verstappen didn’t do this and it rubbed Vettel the wrong way so badly that in the next few corners Daniel Ricciardo was able to catch up to him. Vettel went on an angry tirade on the team radio when it seemed that the stewarts weren’t going to penalize Verstappen. Max did receive a 5 second penalty for gaining an advantage, after the race, which dropped him to 4th. However, when Vettel realised that Ricciardo had gained on him he engaged in dangerous blocking, received a 10-second penalty and was dropped to 5th.

My 2 cents: Both drivers’ conduct was inexcusably stupid but, especially, Vettel shouldn’t have lost his cool the way he did which resulted in a needless penalty for him and another embarrassing race weekend for Ferrari.

Kimi Räikkönen drove admirably enough though he wasn’t able to gain much headway, finish 6th where he started. His overtake of Nico Hülkenberg led to the German spinning out but thankfully he didn’t suffer any damage and came in 7th. With Sergio Perez coming in 10th (the only driver to rise from outside the Top-10 to points), this was another rather lukewarm race weekend for Force India, which seems to have turned into a running theme for the last leg of the season.

Similarly, it was another so-and-so weekend for Williams with Valtteri Bottas as 8th and Felipe Massa as 9th.

Golden Pineapple Award: Marcus Ericsson, Sauber

Marcus Ericsson has now become the thirteenth driver inducted into the Pineapple Chart this season. This is also Sauber’s best finish of the season. For Marcus, this is actually a genuinely big achievement. As there were not that many retirements during the race, this means Sauber beat out both Renaults, both Haas cars, both McLarens and even Manor (who have already scored a point). Not only that, Ericsson was hit in the rear by Wehrlein on the first lap which resulted in a long pit stop – but he still got up this high. It may not be a championship point but it’s the first time in a long while Sauber has been going in the right direction as a team this season. Perhaps they can squeeze into the Top-10 in the last two races. Lycka till!

Drop-out count: 1

Pascal Wehrlein (who is in line to take over at Force India next season after Nico the Hülk’s departure) must be kicking himself, having started as high up as 16th (which is nothing to sneeze at with Manor). Unfortunately Wehrlein hit the back of Ericsson’s car on the first lap which, along with a bunch of other collisions, led to a Virtual and then an actual Safety Car to be deployed.

Back of the Lot News:

McLaren didn’t have a fun time. Though Button had a good long scuffle with Magnussen (which was genuinely exciting to watch), his reward for it was 12th. Alonso seemed poised for some points, but getting forced off the track by Sainz and then suffering a flubbed pit-stop again dropped him to 13th.

Jolyon Palmer showed a bit of fight, rising from the very back to 14th, though it was still a wasted effort for the soon-to-be bench-warmer of the Renault team. His team-mate didn’t fare any better, landing 14th.

After Carlos Sainz’s excellent performance in the US race, the whole Toro Rosso team seemed to have collapsed. Sainz received a 5 second penalty for forcing Alonso off the track and Daniil Kvyat the same for going off the track and overtaking Romain Grosjean. Sainz was 16th and Kvyat was 18th after their penalties.

Still, the team that had by far the most egg on their face today was Haas. Granted, they had a rough time, but being third- and second-to-last probably doesn’t make the team feel better about their chances next season. Gutierrez was 19th, beating his team-mate for the first time in five races (though with still no points to his name), while Grosjean was 20th.

Dead Last: Esteban Ocon While I wouldn’t be on Ocon’s chances of driving at Manor next year, he did show some genuine fight at the start, but clearly he wasn’t able to keep the other cars behind him. Unless Wehrlein lands dead last in the final two races of the season Ocon will be the Dead Last King of the season (though three finishes short of Rio Haryanto’s Dead Last stats).