Hamilton wins to edge closer to sixth title

Lewis Hamilton

Lewis Hamilton has won the Formula 1 Mexican Grand Prix after surviving an opening corner stoush with Max Verstappen.

The Mercedes driver went wheel to wheel with the Red Bull on the run to the opening corner, leaving the road and dropping behind Carlos Sainz in fifth.

An early stop then gave Hamilton track position for the run to the flag, taking an 83rd grand prix win of his career.

Sebastian Vettel and Charles Leclerc headed the field off the line, leading into the opening chicane as Hamilton found himself crowded for space.

A slide at Turn 2 then saw he and Verstappen cut across the grass inside Turn 3, allowing Alexander Albon and Sainz to move by.

Verstappen slipped further back, with Lando Norris and Valtteri Bottas moving by the Red Bull.

Contact between Verstappen and Bottas resulted in a right rear puncture for the Dutchman as he tried to make a move on the Mercedes at the Stadium section.

That only manifested itself half a lap later, leaving the Red Bull driver to limp back to the pits.

Leclerc led the opening lap from Vettel while Hamilton slip-streamed by Sainz at the start of Lap 4 to take fourth.

Ferrari locked the early leader into a two-stop strategy, hauling Leclerc in from the lead on Lap 15, but a slow left rear delayed his exit.

It was a strategy call mirrored by Red Bull, who pitted Albon a lap later than Leclerc, leaving Vettel alone out front and pushing Hamilton up to second on the road.

Running longer than the early stoppers, but still pitting earlier than those on a one-stop, Hamilton was in the lane on Lap 23.

It saw the Mercedes driver move into the lead when Vettel finally stopped on Lap 37, having had a close call as he’d tried to lap Sainz and Pierre Gasly as they squabbled over 12th.

Leclerc led following the opening round of stops with Hamilton second, though the leader still facing another stop before the end of the race.

The Ferrari driver took that stop on Lap 43, handing the lead to Hamilton and rejoining the race fifth.

Albon took service for a second time on Lap 44, leaving a straight race to the flag with a mixture of strategies converge in the closing stages.

Hamilton out front had by far the oldest tyres, but despite that disadvantage maintained a gap to second placed Vettel that kept the German out of his DRS zone.

In the run home Bottas closed on Vettel, with Leclerc running down the pair courtesy of his fresher tyres.

A mistake into Turn 1 saw him pinch the front left and run wide, all but ending his challenge for a podium result.

Albon netted a fifth place finish while Verstappen recovered from his early dramas to take sixth.

The balance of the top 10 was Sergio Perez (Racing Point), Daniel Ricciardo (Renault), Daniil Kvyat (Toro Rosso), and Pierre Gasly (Toro Rosso).

A bungled pit stop saw Norris released with a loose wheel to end his day early while Alfa Romeo sent Raikkonen to the garage to be the race’s only other retirement.

Hamilton now holds a 74 point advantage over Bottas in the drivers’ championship with a maximum of 78 on offer across the season’s remaining three races.

The United States hosts the next event at the Circuit of the Americas with practice starting at 0300 AEDT on Saturday.