Mercedes driver Lewis Hamilton won the Mexican Grand Prix from the second row of the grid, using a one-stop medium-hard strategy. This tactic, used by the top three, was predicted to be possible but tricky in the demanding conditions of the Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez. The higher temperatures on race day, compared to the rest of the weekend, helped to make this practicable due to reduced graining.
Hamilton was among the first drivers to stop from the medium tyre and switch to the hard. Nonetheless, he was able to manage the hard tyre perfectly over the 48 laps of his final stint to claim the race win.
He wasn’t the only driver to complete a long stint on this tyre. Renault‘s Daniel Ricciardo was the only driver to start the race on the hard tyre, and he completed 50 laps on this compound before switching to the medium and finishing eighth.
Red Bull‘s Max Verstappen went even further: he did 66 laps on the hard tyre following an early pit stop after a puncture caused by contact on his starting set of mediums. He finished sixth, having been last in the early stages of the race.
Ferrari‘s Charles Leclerc was the highest-placed driver to use a two-stop strategy, adopting the medium-medium-hard tactic that was predicted as theoretically fastest. He led the race but finished fourth, having also been slightly delayed in the pits.
In total, only seven drivers went for a two-stop strategy: including those who started on the soft tyre.
Weather conditions were much warmer than they had been on previous days, which were affected by rain. Peak track temperature was 49 degrees centigrade, while ambient temperatures were higher as well.
Mario Isola: “There were a number of different strategies at work during the race, with drivers also reacting to what the others were doing. The one-stopper was helped to be made possible by track temperatures that were warmer than previous days and no more rain, meaning that there was less sliding and reduced graining, which tipped the balance back towards one or two stops, rather than two or more. The hard tyre was the crucial one for the race and we saw some very long stints run on this compound. Lewis Hamilton in particular made the very most of it in order to seal another win, despite not being on the front row of the grid, on a track where overtaking is always quite tricky.”