Max Verstappen wins 16th race of season in Mexico, sets all-time single-season wins record
FiredUp Network Sports Writer
Sunday, October 29, 2023
Photo Credit: Sportsnet
The Formula 1 world is truly beginning to run out of ways to describe Max Verstappen in 2023. Through and through, he has been truly unstoppable.
After qualifying on Saturday, many had the hope that Sunday's Mexico City Grand Prix would be a thriller with Verstappen starting third, behind the two Ferraris. Given how difficult it is to overtake in Mexico traditionally, it was fair to assume it wouldn't be the most straightforward of races for Red Bull and Verstappen.
But after jumping past both Charles Leclerc and Carlos Sainz by Turn 1 off the start, Verstappen went unchallenged the rest of the way, even despite a red flag restart on Lap 36, to win the race by over 14 seconds.
The victory was his fifth in Mexico, the 51st of his career, and crucially, his 16th of the 2023 season. With that, the Dutchman broke his own record of the most wins in a single season, which he set just last season.
With three races still to run, including the much-anticipated debut of the Las Vegas Grand Prix in three weeks' time, Verstappen could very well become the first and only driver to win 19 grands prix in a single season.
The aforementioned red flag was for the Haas of Kevin Magnussen, who smashed into the barrier at Turn 9 on Lap 35 after a spin. With his car destroyed, and the barrier severely damaged, the race was, quite literally, cut into two halves.
With the red flag, Lewis Hamilton, running third from sixth on the grid, put on a set of medium tires to get after Leclerc for P2 at the restart. Just a few laps afterwards, he took to the grass to get past the Ferrari into Turn 1 to secure second place.
He came home ahead of pole-sitter Leclerc in third, who infamously tangled with home-hero Sergio Perez in the opening turn, which caused the Mexican to retire. Perez made it three-wide for the lead into Turn 1, before the sandwiched Ferrari sent him several feet in the air and damaged the rear of his Red Bull.
With Perez's home Grand Prix coming to an end after one corner, with a potential win in the cards after his great launch from fifth, and the immense pressure from Red Bull on his shoulders to step up his performance, it was a true heartbreaker.
Finishing fourth was Sainz, ahead of Lando Norris in fifth. Norris stormed from the back of the grid after a torrid qualifying to keep his streak of top 8 finishes since the Austrian Grand Prix alive, and pulled off a brilliant move on George Russell in the closing stages to get it done.
Russell finished sixth for Mercedes, ahead of, stunningly, Daniel Ricciardo in seventh for AlphaTauri. The Aussie ran in fifth place for much of the race after qualifying an incredible P4, but lost a few places on the restart, and another to Norris late on.
Considering it's his fourth race back in Formula 1, and just his second since returning from his wrist injury, it was an incredible drive at a very important time, given Perez's continued struggles at the sister Red Bull team.
His countryman Oscar Piastri finished eighth for McLaren, ahead of Alex Albon in ninth, and the Alpine of Esteban Ocon in tenth to round out the points scorers.
Given Aston Martin's horrible pace in Mexico and double DNF on Sunday, Norris and Piastri's points results now sees McLaren leapfrog the green team for fourth place in the Constructors' Championship.
Meanwhile, Perez's DNF and Hamilton's excellent P2 finish also sees the Brit move to within 20 points of the Mexican with three races to go. Given that there's also a Sprint race still on offer, many points are still on the table for Hamilton to steal a first ever 1-2 championship finish for Red Bull.
Speaking of the Sprint, that takes place in two weeks in Brazil for the Sao Paolo Grand Prix. Always a track known for its great racing and fantastic atmosphere, it is sure to be another great weekend as the F1 season nears its conclusion.