Team spirit key to ‘solid result’ in Mexico

Charles Leclerc earned another positive result in Mexico, finishing fifth in front of a 375,000-strong crowd at the Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez. Meanwhile, Verstappen took the win ahead of Hamilton to extend his championship lead with only a handful of races remaining.
Having been out-qualified by his team-mate on Saturday, Charles Leclerc was quick to atone for his poor qualifying performance as he made an early surge through the field. Leclerc benefitted from a first corner collision between pole-sitter Valterri Bottas and the McLaren of Daniel Ricciardo, which saw both drivers fall to the back of the grid. Having also got the jump on his team-mate, Leclerc found himself in a healthy P5 at the end of the first lap.
Verstappen, having started third on the grid, got the jump on both Mercedes’. Benefitting from the tow and the long-run down to turn 1, Verstappen made an impressive move around the outside of the first corner to take the lead. Further down the field, the evasive action taken by drivers to avoid the stranded Bottas resulted in a crash that would bring out the safety car. Ocon, squeezed by Tsunoda and Schumacher, sent both cars airborne, breaking their suspension in the process, whilst he miraculously escaped unscathed from the incident.
After a brief safety car period, Verstappen quickly built a lead over his championship rival Hamilton. Perez in the other Red Bull also had strong race-pace at his home grand prix and, sitting just behind Hamilton in third, ensured that the Englishman’s focus was on what was happening in his rear- wing mirrors rather than what was ahead of him.
Leclerc managed to maintain a comfortable gap to his team-mate behind, yet surprisingly couldn’t find the pace to chase down the Alpha Tauri of Gasly in fourth place. Late in the race, with Leclerc struggling on the hard tyres and unable to make inroads on Gasly, Ferrari ordered him to cede the place to his team-mate Carlos Sainz. Although Sainz managed to close the gap to Gasly, he was never within striking distance, and in the final laps Ferrari switched the cars back around, with Leclerc retaking fifth position.

Photo credit Scuderia Ferrari Press Office

At the front, Hamilton came under late pressure from home-favourite Perez, who closed the gap to under a second but failed to pass. Verstappen took a comfortable victory to extend his championship lead to 19 points with only four races remaining.
Speaking post-race, Leclerc reflected on his performance, as well as the team orders which saw the Ferrari’s swap positions, saying: “Fifth and sixth is a solid result to take home this weekend… As a whole, I think that today was a good day and an example of our team spirit.”
The result sees Ferrari take third place in the constructors’ championship going into next weekend’s race in Brazil.
Top photo source: Scuderia Ferrari Press Office