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Formula 1

Verstappen takes record 14th win of 2022 F1 season in Mexico

by Ben Anderson
8 min read

Max Verstappen took his 14th victory of 2022 in the Mexican Grand Prix, breaking Formula 1’s record for most wins in a season as the hoped-for Mercedes challenge failed to materialise.

There was talk before the race of Mercedes adopting an aggressive approach and the drivers working together to defeat Verstappen – but as it turned out the Mercedes drivers fought each other through the opening corners, allowing Verstappen to escape and Sergio Perez to split them.

Red Bull fitted soft tyres to both its cars and used the benefit of the extra grip at the start to successfully defend Verstappen’s pole position advantage and vault Perez ahead of George Russell.

Russell was perhaps a little reticent into Turn 1 after the start, taking the outside line after pulling out from Verstappen’s slipstream but braking a bit early for the corner. Verstappen held the lead comfortably, while Russell’s compromised line for Turn 2 allowed Lewis Hamilton to come around his outside and then force Russell wide onto the kerb exiting Turn 3 – which then allowed Perez to gain momentum and come around Russell’s outside to take third place into Turn 4.

Mercedes started both its cars on the medium compound Pirelli tyre, but only really flattered to deceive as a real threat to Red Bull in the first stint of this race. Verstappen was able to pretty much match Hamilton’s pace even when the left-front tyre on his Red Bull began to grain after about 20 of the race’s 71 laps.

Once both Red Bulls were switched to the medium the drivers looked much more comfortable and Verstappen was able to stretch away more easily at the front. He was so comfortable that Red Bull urged him to up his pace in the high-speed middle sector to prevent the tyres from dropping out of the ideal temperature window. Tyre wear on this circuit’s smooth surface was absolutely no concern at all.

Mercedes fitted hard compound tyres to its cars at the pitstops, hoping Red Bull would need to stop a second time, but that proved wishful thinking. After showing promising initial pace, this tyre proved to be a less capable option than the medium fitted to the Red Bulls and Hamilton couldn’t live with Verstappen for the rest of this race, finishing 15.1 seconds behind the winner.

In fact Hamilton – who as in qualifying complained of some electrical de-rates from his Mercedes engine during the race – was shadowed pretty much throughout the second part of this race by the second Red Bull, but Perez couldn’t find a way past so had to settle for third, just under three seconds further back.

After his difficult opening lap, Russell ran a longer first stint than Hamilton and the Red Bulls, before also switching to the hard compound tyre. He suffered similarly to Hamilton with that compound, the hoped-for pay off at the end of the race never arriving given how comfortably the faster mediums held up on the Red Bulls as the fuel loads burned off.

Russell finished a distant fourth, eventually persuading Mercedes to allow him a late second pitstop to claim the fastest lap bonus point. Overall, this was a disappointing result for someone who felt he should have qualified on pole for this race.

But not as disappointing as this race was for Ferrari. This car looked evil to drive all weekend and was well off the pace of the leaders in the race, struggling for straight-line speed and unable again to ride the kerbs properly at high speed without threatening to spear its drivers into the barriers.

Carlos Sainz and Charles Leclerc were in a race of their own for fifth and sixth, which was effectively settled on the first lap when Leclerc’s fast start from seventh on the grid was undone at Turn 4. Delayed slightly behind the battle between Perez and Russell, Leclerc was overtaken around his outside by Sainz – who then rebuffed his team-mate as they raced side-by-side through Turns 5 and 6.

After his incredible performance to split the Ferraris in qualifying, Valtteri Bottas went backwards in the race. He was a bit too reticent into Turn 1 after the start and finished 10th, behind Daniel Ricciardo’s McLaren, the Alpine of Esteban Ocon and the other McLaren of Lando Norris.

Ricciardo executed the strategy Russell failed to persuade Mercedes was the ideal move if you started on the medium tyre. Ricciardo went long on the medium then fitted the soft for his final stint and charged through the order to finish seventh on the road.

He copped a 10s penalty for bouncing Yuki Tsunoda’s AlphaTauri into retirement after lunging past it into Turn 6, but was so rapid on the soft tyre that he was able to finish more than 12s ahead of Ocon and retain seventh place.

Fernando Alonso should probably have finished eighth but fell back behind Ocon and Ricciardo before suffering an engine failure with a handful of laps left.

Clearing the Alpine away from the Turn 1 escape road only required a virtual safety car intervention, which aided Ricciardo’s cause further.

Alpine mirrored the Mercedes medium/hard strategy and Ocon finished eighth, 4.2s ahead of Norris (on the same strategy). Bottas rounded out the points scorers, less than a second clear of Pierre Gasly’s AlphaTauri, which itself recovered from a 5s penalty early in the race for forcing Lance Stroll’s Aston Martin off the circuit during wheel-to-wheel battle.

Race Results

Pos Name Car Laps Laps Led Total Time Fastest Lap Pitstops Pts
1 Max Verstappen Red Bull 71 61 1h38m36.729s 1m22.046s 1 25
2 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 71 5 +15.186s 1m22.062s 1 18
3 Sergio Pérez Red Bull 71 0 +18.097s 1m21.775s 1 15
4 George Russell Mercedes 71 5 +49.431s 1m20.153s 2 13
5 Carlos Sainz Ferrari 71 0 +58.123s 1m22.199s 1 10
6 Charles Leclerc Ferrari 71 0 +1m08.774s 1m22.603s 1 8
7 Daniel Ricciardo McLaren-Mercedes 70 0 +1 lap 1m22.022s 1 6
8 Esteban Ocon Alpine-Renault 70 0 +1 lap 1m23.279s 1 4
9 Lando Norris McLaren-Mercedes 70 0 +1 lap 1m23.402s 1 2
10 Valtteri Bottas Alfa Romeo-Ferrari 70 0 +1 lap 1m23.363s 1 1
11 Pierre Gasly AlphaTauri-Red Bull 70 0 +1 lap 1m22.277s 1 0
12 Alex Albon Williams-Mercedes 70 0 +1 lap 1m22.914s 1 0
13 Guanyu Zhou Alfa Romeo-Ferrari 70 0 +1 lap 1m22.26s 1 0
14 Sebastian Vettel Aston Martin-Mercedes 70 0 +1 lap 1m23.086s 1 0
15 Lance Stroll Aston Martin-Mercedes 70 0 +1 lap 1m22.463s 1 0
16 Mick Schumacher Haas-Ferrari 70 0 +1 lap 1m23.641s 1 0
17 Kevin Magnussen Haas-Ferrari 70 0 +1 lap 1m23.3s 1 0
18 Nicholas Latifi Williams-Mercedes 69 0 +2 laps 1m23.709s 2 0
Fernando Alonso Alpine-Renault 63 0 DNF 1m22.866s 1 0
Yuki Tsunoda AlphaTauri-Red Bull 49 0 DNF 1m23.403s 2 0
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