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Mexican GP driver ratings

October 30, 2017 11:47 AM
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Mexican GP driver ratings

A perfect race from Verstappen while Mercedes have another star in the making as their current one is crowned world champion

An utterly commanding performance from Max Verstappen as he streaked away from the field to record his third victory in Formula 1 by nearly 20 seconds.

The 20-year-old was simply imperious and his move on Sebastian Vettel to take the lead through the opening two turns transformed the whole Grand Prix. On the day one of F1's elder statesmen was crowned world champion, Verstappen once again proved he is the future of the sport.

Verstappen had missed out on becoming F1's youngest-ever pole sitter by just 0.086 seconds and that, combined with his anger at his podium demotion a week earlier, provided all the motivation he needed.

"One of the easiest races of my career," Verstappen told Sky F1. And given his recent run-in with the stewards, he even joked that he considered cutting some corners in order to get a penalty to make it more interesting.

Such was Verstappen's dominance that the biggest threat to his victory was unreliability. But despite pleas from his pit wall to ease up, he kept pumping in fastest lap after fastest lap. "We couldn't slow him down," Christian Horner said. "I think he got a bit bored out there at times."

If Red Bull avoid another slow start and Renault resolve their reliability issues, Verstappen will surely be in the championship fight in 12 months' time.

A much improved weekend for Valtteri Bottas in which he matched or bettered the pace of team-mate Lewis Hamilton but found himself in a car unable to challenge for the win.

The Finn had held his nerve to qualify fourth, just two hundredths of a second behind Hamilton, on his only true attempt in Q3 after being disrupted by Verstappen. Bottas was then near flawless during the race keeping his nose clean during the first lap shenanigans to secure his first podium finish in four races. "It feels good to be back on the podium," he told Sky F1. "It felt like I got the most out of the car but we didn't have the pace to challenge Max."

And crucially, Bottas occupied the spot that Sebastian Vettel had needed at a minimum to extend the title race to Brazil. He now trails the German by just 15 points in the battle for second in the championship.

He may have finished on the podium but this was yet another disappointing performance from Kimi Raikkonen. He was the only driver from the three leading teams to be off the pace all weekend and he came home a mammoth 54 seconds behind race-winner Verstappen and over half a minute off second place.

After losing places off the start, it was only once those ahead of him pitted that Raikkonen was able to make up positions and he was fortunate the Virtual Safety Car was able to help him get a top three finish.

"I don't know where he can dig deep and find something else," said Sky F1's Damon Hill. "He has his moments but he doesn't sound excited to be doing this and I wonder about whether he ought to be doing another year."

Realistically Sebastian Vettel's title chances were already over before he arrived in Mexico but any faint hope had been extinguished by the time he exited Turn Three.

His brilliant Qualifying lap to take pole ended up being a curse for Vettel as he provided the perfect tow for Max Verstappen and Lewis Hamilton off the line. He was third by the time he rounded Turn Two and his contact with Hamilton left him with too much to do.

Now Vettel must focus on holding onto second in the championship from Valtteri Bottas, while hoping Ferrari come again in 2018.

Mercedes' current star may have been taking all the plaudits post-race but boy do they have a star in the making in Esteban Ocon. The 21-year-old put in a stunning Qualifying lap to line up sixth on the grid, ahead of Daniel Ricciardo's Red Bull and almost four tenths up on Force India team-mate Sergio Perez.

Ocon made a brilliant start and took advantage of Vettel and Hamilton's contact to be running third for the first third of the race. However, the VSC denied him the chance to fight for the final podium spot as he was the main man to lose out with Raikkonen getting the jump on him and Vettel then coasting by at the end on fresher tyres. But that maiden podium is surely not far away.

"What a star he is turning into. He's been super reliable and consistent and is now adding speed to that," said Sky F1's Martin Brundle. "It's hard to believe he's a rookie," added 1996 world champion Damon Hill.

A nice 19th birthday present for Lance Stroll as he recorded his second-best finish in Formula 1. The Canadian put his Qualifying mistake behind him to put in a very solid drive to split the two Force Indias. Stroll also felt that with a couple more laps he could have passed Esteban Ocon given the rate he was closing on him in the final stages.

Stroll's eight-point haul takes him above team-mate Felipe Massa into the 10th in the Drivers' Championship while it has all but secured Williams fifth in the Constructors'. "He's in contention for the most improved driver of the year," said Damon Hill.

Not quite the home race Sergio Perez hoped for but still a solid points haul for the Mexican which helped Force India secure fourth in the Constructors' Championship for the second straight year.

A poor Qualifying performance left him lining up ninth on the grid but he ran as high as fifth before losing out under the VSC.

On an otherwise awful weekend for Haas, Kevin Magnussen did a brilliant job to finish eighth. The Dane was one of the big benefactors of the opening lap chaos but then did sterling work to hold onto a points' position, despite Haas having possessed the slowest car on Saturday.

"That was like a victory. It was incredible, and a great way to reward everyone for their hard work. It was a perfect race," Magnussen said. His four points also moved Haas to within one point of seventh-placed Renault and six of Toro Rosso in sixth.

Ninth place, lapped for the first time in four years, this was not the way Lewis Hamilton wanted to secure his fourth world championship but ultimately he got the job done.

Not at fault for the first-lap contact with Sebastian Vettel, Hamilton struggled to make inroads back into the points in his damaged Mercedes and around a circuit which didn't favour his Silver Arrows package.

Another one of those familiar weekends for Fernando Alonso in F1 2017. For the umpteenth time this season the Spaniard drove the wheels off his McLaren but was made to rue engine penalties which ruined his weekend.

As per usual the McLaren was the slowest car through the speed trap, yet Alonso produced an utterly inspired drive in the first part of Qualifying to be just 0.192 seconds off the pace set by Lewis Hamilton's Mercedes.

And come Sunday, the former team-mates and multiple world champions produced the duel of the afternoon. Three times they went wheel to wheel before Hamilton made the move finally stick. It was hard, fair racing among two of the best drivers that has been far too absent in recent season.

Let's hope the Renault engine in next year's McLaren ensures that is a more regular occurrence in 2018.

Perhaps a case of what might have been for Felipe Massa as his race was immediately compromised by a slow puncture which forced him to pit on lap three after he had made his way up to sixth from 10th. The Brazilian lost out on a points finish when he was passed by Lewis Hamilton late on and he will hope for better at his home race next time out.

A tough weekend for Stoffel Vandoorne in which he was comprehensively out-performed by Fernando Alonso and had yet another race compromised by Honda engine penalties.

Vandoorne was almost nine tenths slower than his McLaren team-mate in the one Qualifying session they took part in, a mammoth distance made to look even worse over one lap on such a short lap.

Starting 19th, the Belgian made a brilliant start to be running 13th after the first lap but the lack of straight-line speed saw him overtaken by Marcus Ericsson's Sauber while a slow stop saw him lose out to Felipe Massa during the VSC.

Third last may not sound like much to shout about but this was a very solid performance from Pierre Gasly in just his third Grand Prix given his troubles earlier in the weekend.

The rookie has been limited to just 10 laps of practice around the Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez after his Toro Rosso suffered multiple engine problems and he started last having been unable to take part in Qualifying. A nice overtake on Romain Grosjean was probably the highlight of his race while he was also involved in a good battle for 12th.

Pascal Wehrlein felt he could not have done any more but this was another tough weekend for him. Given Sauber's lack of performance, Wehrlein can only really be judged in comparison to his team-mate and he was comprehensively out performed by Marcus Ericsson. The German is not doing very much currently to suggest he deserves the Williams drive next year.

A weekend to forget and move on from for Romain Grosjean as he was slowest in Qualifying and then last of the cars to finish. The Frenchman did not help his cause by getting a five-second penalty for going off track to retain his position in a battle with Fernando Alonso before suffering damage to his car as the McLaren man finally barged his way past at Turn One.

A weekend that just got worse and worse for Daniel Ricciardo. The Australian had looked a favourite for victory after setting the pace in Friday practice but he could only qualify a lowly seventh after tyre warm-up issues.

Red Bull opted to change parts of his engine before the race, demoting him to 16th but after fighting his way back through to seventh, Ricciardo's race was ended on lap five when his new MGU-H failed.

For a moment it looked like Marcus Ericsson may be on for his first points finish since the 2015 Italian GP. The Swede was running comfortably in the top 10 in the first stint of the race but lost out during the Virtual Safety Car having pitted just before it was deployed. His race was then ended 16 laps from the end by an engine fire.

He could though take heart from out-qualifying team-mate Pascal Wehrlein for the third consecutive race and he is putting together a good run of form at a crucial time with his future yet to be sorted out.

Brendon Hartley's race may have been ended by yet another Renault engine failure but the Kiwi did his chances of securing the 2018 Toro Rosso seat with a very solid performance.

On only his second Grand Prix weekend, he once again improved with every session, finishing 11th in Practice Three and would have had a good chance of qualifying ahead of the Williams had he not lost power in Q2. Hartley had worked his way up to 11th from 17th when his engine caught fire on lap 30.

A third consecutive retirement and the fourth in five races for Nico Hulkenberg. He had looked in contention for a top-four finish before his car suffered an ERS issue. A strong Saturday though did see the German manage to out-qualify new team-mate Carlos Sainz by three-tenths of a second.

After a good start, Carlos Sainz's race was ruined by a high-speed spin on lap two which forced him into an early pit stop before he retired from 17th on lap 59 with an issue.

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Source: skysports.com

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