Story By: F1 MEXICO – MEXICO CITY, MEXICO – Max Verstappen kept his record-breaking season going with a stunning win for Oracle Red Bull Racing at the 2023 FORMULA 1 MEXICO CITY GRAND PRIX presented by Heineken at the Autódromo Hermanos Rodríguez on Sunday.
This is Verstappen’s fifth victory in Mexico, stretching the gap over the all-time record of three wins previously held by Jim Clark. The Dutchman achieved this feat in front of a crowd of 152,668 ticket-paying fans. Today’s attendance is a new milestone for the Mexico City Grand Prix, which drew a total of 400,639 spectators over the course of the weekend.
The 26-year-old Dutchman claimed his fifth win in Mexico, the 51st of his career and his 16th of the season, eclipsing the 15 he claimed in 2022. On a circuit with a corner named after 1992 World Champion Nigel Mansell, Verstappen’s last two seasons have now seen him score 31 victories – the same number as the Englishman claimed in his entire 187-race F1 career.
Verstappen got the job done within seconds of the lights going out: with Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc starting from his second Mexico pole position and teammate Carlos Sainz alongside him, the World Champion aimed his Red Bull between the two scarlet cars and passed both on the 811-metre run to the first corner – the longest of the F1 season.
The race could not have started worse for Mexican favourite Sergio Pérez; as Verstappen dived down the inside at Turn 1, Checo tried to go past Leclerc round the outside resulting in contact, sending the Red Bull off and out with damage to its right side while the Ferrari suffered front wing damage of its own.
‘I had a tremendous start,’ said the 33-year-old Mexican, ‘the gap was there, I was fully on it – I just went for it. I wasn’t expecting Charles to brake as late as Max and I did. There was no room for three cars, it was a total racing accident. I gave it my all, after probably the best start of the year.’ Looking further ahead, Checo added: ‘The pace is good, I’m not concerned about that – the results will come.’
Consolation for the huge crowd – a weekend attendance of 400,639 – came with the chance to see a second standing start once the trackside barriers were repaired after the race’s other major incident – a red flag after 33 laps when Kevin Magnussen’s Haas had an accident at Turn 9. The right rear suspension failed and catapulted the #20 car left into the barriers, with the 31-year-old emerging unscathed.
Verstappen then had to get the job done for a second time, rocketing off the line and defending superbly into Turn 1 to protect the lead and streaking away from the field. ‘I think we did the right thing,’ Verstappen said with typical understatement. ‘We got lucky with the red flag but even after that we were flying.’ So much so that the Red Bull came home with a winning margin of 13.875 seconds over former Mexico winner Lewis Hamilton.
The 38-year-old Briton forced his Mercedes past Leclerc’s Ferrari for second place with a brave dive down the inside at the first corner, held on through a long second stint and the extra point for the fastest lap of 1:21.334 moved Hamilton to within 20 points of Pérez in the chase for second place overall.
The second phase of the race was lit up by a brilliant Lando Norris. The 23-year-old Briton, hampered by a disastrous qualifying, rediscovered the pace in his McLaren to storm through the field, overtaking Daniel Ricciardo’s AlphaTauri and George Russell’s Mercedes to grab fifth place behind Sainz after starting 18th.
Oscar Piastri (McLaren) was eighth, but he had to fight off a determined Yuki Tsunoda in the other AlphaTauri. The Japanese driver misjudged a move on Piastri at Turn 1 and dropped down the field, but Ricciardo’s seventh place lifted the team off the bottom of the Constructors’ Championship table. Alex Albon was ninth after another excellent weekend for Williams.
Regarding the support events, the other race of the weekend for the Súper Copa Gran Turismo Mexico (GTM) championship was also held on Sunday. After completing 12 laps of the circuit, Jorge Garciarce was the winner ahead of Emiliano Richards in second place and Axel Matus in third.
In the 14-lap Formula 4 NACAM Sunday race, the winner was Cristian Cantú, who finished 10.1 seconds ahead of Marco Alquicira. Arturo Flores secured the third position at the end of 30 minutes of intense racing.