Verstappen breaks win record in dominant display
Red Bull may be fighting for their reputation off the track, but they continue to sweep all before them on it. Sunday’s Mexican Grand Prix was touted as the first real opportunity this year for Mercedes to go wheel-to-wheel with their erstwhile rivals. Instead, it turned into a procession for newly-crowned double world champion Max Verstappen who got away cleanly from pole, and never looked particularly threatened by the Mercedes of Lewis Hamilton and George Russell, winning by 15.1sec from the former, with Red Bull team mate Sergio Perez third and Russell fourth.
It was Verstappen’s 14th win of the season - a new F1 record, lifting him clear of Michael Schumacher and Sebastian Vettel - and there are still two races remaining for him to extend the record still further.
It remains to be seen how friendly those races will be. There was a palpable air of tension on the grid on Sunday. Formula One’s long-running budget cap saga, which finally came to a head on Friday when Red Bull were slapped with a $7 million fine and a 10 per cent reduction in their aero testing budget (“draconian” or “way too soft” depending on your team), meant the paddock was already on edge. But by Sunday everyone seemed to have taken leave of their senses.
Fernando Alonso and Lewis Hamilton were sniping at each other in the press and on Twitter, while Red Bull had issued a blanket ban on Sky Sports after taking umbrage at the alleged lack of balance displayed by pitlane reporter Ted Kravitz.
Perhaps it was one too many nights on the mezcal, or getting carried caught up in the estimated 400,000 crowd who descended on Mexico City’s Zocalo square for Saturday night’s Day of the Dead festivities, but it felt as if everyone was hot and bothered at the end of a long season. Hamilton certainly looked hot and bothered as he legged it back to his car after a quick loo break pre-race.
The start had been touted as hugely important, with the two Mercedes cars stacked up behind pole-sitter Verstappen, and a long run down to T1 for them to get in the Dutchman’s tow.
As it turned out, Verstappen got away well, and it was the two Mercedes cars who were fighting each other for position as they went through the first bends.
Hamilton, who had started in third, managed to force Russell wide, taking second spot, while Red Bull’s Sergio Perez - who was serenaded throughout with cries of “Checo, Checo!” from the huge crowds - was also able to nip in as Russell struggled to get back up to speed.
The race order established, and with no further incidents of note, the race settled into a tactical battle.
Both Red Bulls had opted to start on the soft tyres, both Mercedes the mediums. And initially there was not much of a speed differential between the two.
After 20 or so laps, Hamilton had held the gap to Verstappen fairly steady at around two seconds, with Perez a further three seconds back and Russell another 1.5 seconds.
But the question was how long would they try to go. By this point Verstappen was complaining his softs were not wanting to turn in, while Hamilton was on the radio telling his engineer that his mediums were still “okay mate”. It was hard to tell how much was kidology.
Perez was the first to pit at the end of lap 22, and Red Bull botched it, a problem with his rear left costing the Mexican a few seconds. He switched to mediums.
Verstappen lasted a couple more laps before he too came in for mediums, complaining his front left tyre was “dead”.
All eyes now were on Mercedes. Would they try to go long? Split their strategies? A bit of both.
Hamilton came in on lap 29 and bolted on a set of hard compounds. Russell stayed out another six laps and also switched to hards.
Mercedes’ strategy was clear. They were going to try to reach the end of the race, and hope Red Bull could not.
By lap 40 Verstappen’s lead had grown to nine seconds and Hamilton was complaining that his hard tyres were “not as good as the mediums”.
Later, Hamilton checked again."Are we on the wrong tyre?"
"No,” came the reply. “We think we are on the right tyre. We will get to the end on this, no sweat."
The problem was, Red Bull also made it to the finish no sweat.
Verstappen’s lead was hovering around the 18sec mark when a virtual safety car came out on lap 65 after Fernando Alonso’s Alpine suffered an engine failure.
But it had little effect on the race, Verstappen holding on to win by 15.1sec, with Perez third a further 2.9sec behind. Russell had enough of a cushion to stop with a couple of laps remaining and take the fastest lap bonus point along with his fourth place.
Updated constructor standings
Updated driver standings: Top 10
Perez reacts to a decent home podium
I gave my best today at the start, really pushed hard. Unfortunately we had a bit of a bad stop which prevented us from undercutting Lewis. As soon as I got behind him it was difficult to follow. I had to stay in third. I thought we were going to be a bit closer... unfortunately it didn't work out for us today. In front of this crowd I wanted a bit more.
Hamilton reacts to another solid second
Definitely a bit awkward this time around, boos all day. I have so much love for Mexico and the people here. I was so close I think in that first stint but I think Red Bull was just too fast today, maybe they had the better tyre strategy. I am not sure it was the right tyre at the end. I thought we should have started on the soft... it was okay in the first stint but that hard tyre was just an offset. Congratulations to Max.
He is booed before he speaks, to be fair.
Verstappen speaks after his record-breaking victory
That helped me out a lot, to stay in the lead after turn one. Also on a different strategy to the cars around us. Again an incredible result, again the pace of the car was really nice. It was a really long stint on the mediums. It's amazing, an incredible atmosphere and we love to come here. It's been an incredible year so far. We are definitely enjoying it and we will try to go for more.
Mexico City GP - Classification
OUT: ALO, TSU
MAX VERSTAPPEN WINS THE 2022 MEXICO CITY GRAND PRIX
Easy. Hamilton second, a fine race but never really challenged Verstappen. Perez third, a welcome podium in his home race. Russell fourth... but can he get that fastest lap bonus point? He does the fastest sectors of the day in sectors one and two, so it looks likely.
14 wins in the season, that is a new record.
And Russell DOES get the fastest lap bonus point.
Verstappen cruising now... only now? He's been doing it for most of the race. Mercedes never really a match but you feel that they didn't really maximise their strategy to put Red Bull under pressure. Or just maybe they were not quick enough...
Lap 70 of 71 - Ricciardo now has that gap
That is about the most interesting thing to be happening... and maybe to have happened in this race.
Lap 69 of 71 - Ricciardo watch
He is in seventh but thankfully Ocon behind is 9.8s adrift. So he only needs to find another 0.2s between now and when he crosses the line to keep that spot. Not bad, really. Showing what the softs could have done. Why didn't Mercedes try this with Russell...
Russell now pits...
Lap 68 of 71 - Top six and gaps
These are the only cars on the lead lap.
Lap 67 of 71 - Verstappen's lead has increased under the VSC
It's now 14 seconds...
Lap 66 of 71 - Russell has said he has gone through debris
He wants to stop... but he is told to stay out. He says "Why? These tyres are done." He is then told his [Perez's] tyres will be more done than yours... there are five laps left and he is five seconds behind. He isn't that much quicker at all. Seems odd. I can't see Russell getting that place... but he could get the fastest lap bonus point as Sainz is miles behind in fifth.
Lap 65 of 71 - Alonso retires!
He pulls over to the side of the track... engine gone. Another retirement from the points. The issues were affecting him from earlier on. He is on the run-off there, and the VSC is deployed. But the VSC does not stick around long, barely two minutes.
Lap 64 of 71 - Perez currently holds the fastest lap bonus point
Norris gets Bottas for ninth.
Lap 63 of 71 - Top 15
Lap 62 of 71 - Verstappen leads Hamilton by 13.3s
Perez is 3.3s behind Hamilton, with clean air between them. Think this might just have to be another good second for Hamilton, as it was last weekend. Ricciardo went all the way to lap 44 and then put on the softs. Not sure why someone else in the top four didn't try that. Again, just seems strange that, with Russell fourth, they didn't try something different to Hamilton. I guess it shows how confident they were in that the strategy they are on was the right one with a big advantage over the drivers who went from softs to mediums... but I dunno. Something is off.
Lap 61 of 71 - Ricciardo now up to eighth
he still has that penalty to serve but that would probably drop him out of the points.
Lap 60 of 71 - Verstappen leads Hamilton by 13.3s
Hamilton on the radio again:
"These mediums look quick mate, they going to go to the end"
Lap 59 of 71 - Verstappen leads Hamilton by 12.8s
I mean, yeah. Hamilton is losing time lapping cars, though. But the race for the lead is over, really. Russell still is not happy with his tyre choice.
Lap 58 of 71 - Ricciardo going well
He has a 10-second time penalty to serve but is now up to ninth on the soft tyres. Two places ahead of Norris, his team-mate.
Lap 57 of 71 - Verstappen very likely to win his 14th race of the season
Lap 56 of 71 - Perez sets the fastest first sector
He has DRS from lapping a back marker and is now almost within DRS range of Hamilton for second. Medium tyres don't seem too bad at the moment. Hamilton is now 12.2s behind Verstappen. Even if those medium tyres on the Red Bull get worse... there surely isn't enough time for him to claw that back...
Lap 55 of 71 - Top 10 and gaps
OCO +1 lap
BOT +1 lap
NOR +1 lap
Lap 54 of 71 - Obviously Mercedes have much more data than I do
But not sure this strategy has given Hamilton the best chance of winning this race. Still, I think the Red Bull is the quicker car and had track position. It is hard to win from there, whatever you do.
It's a 10-second penalty for Ricciardo for that collision. Seems fair as it ended Tsunoda's race.
Lap 53 of 71 - Verstappen leads Hamilton by 10.4s
I feel it's managing the tyres for Verstappen. Hamilton is told he's on the right tyre. It sounded like he thought he might be on the wrong ones. Russell not making great ground up on Perez (though some) and there are not all that many laps left.
Lap 52 of 71 - It's an attempted front wing change for Tsunoda
But something is up... and they retire the car.
Tsunoda is not happy, understandably, at the incident:
What the f--- is he doing?!
Lap 51 of 71 - Here's some action
Ricciardo and Tsunoda at the start of the lap... and then through the middle! Ricciardo puts it up the inside right of the AlphaTauri and they collide!
— Formula 1 (@F1) October 30, 2022
Front left of the McLaren to the rear right of the AlphaTauri and Tsunoda goes into the air a bit... he carries on going eventually but that was an ambitious move from the Australian. I would imagine both drivers have incurred some damage. Tsunoda is coming into the pits but will he retire?
Lap 50 of 71 - This is F1's 20th race of the season
It might be the 20th best race?
Lap 49 of 71 - You know it's a bad race when they Sky commentators are talking it down
Well, David Croft anyway.
Lap 48 of 71 - "It looks like they will come in eventually"
That is what Russell is told. He is 6.6s behind Perez, so if what he is told does come true then has a decent chance. I think Hamilton's chances of doing the same to Verstappen are much worse because a) his tyre advantage is much smaller and b) it's Verstappen. Perez has 25 lap-old mediums with Russell on 14 lap-old hards. Verstappen has 24 lap old mediums and Hamilton 20 lap-old hards.
Lap 47 of 71 - Backmarker update
Tsunoda is in 11th and has been lapped, then it's Ricciardo, Vettel, Albon, Gasly, Zhou, Schumacher, Stroll, Magnussen and, yes, my friend and yours, Latifi. No retirements.
Lap 46 of 71 - Well, Mercedes' only hope here...
...is that the medium tyres drop off for Red Bull, drastically, or that there is some kind of safety car situation that favours them. Or, of course, that Verstappen crashes, but you know... realistically. I can't see Hamilton coming in for softs and trying to make up 30 seconds in... 24 laps. No chance.
Lap 45 of 71 - Top 10 and gaps
Drivers in bold yet to stop. They are the only two on track who have not come into the pits yet.
Lap 43 of 71 - This has not been the best race of the season
The Red Bull is just that little bit too quick for the Mercedes and that is giving it options, especially with Verstappen keeping the lead at the start and Perez getting ahead of Russell for third.
Lap 42 of 71 - Neither Mercedes driver is happy with the hard tyre
Dunno. Think it's a bit strange that they put both drivers on the hards for their second stint.
Lap 41 of 71 - Alonso pits
He comes out in eighth... Ocon and Bottas have a great duel at the first part of the lap, for 10th position. Ocon tried a move around the outside of Bottas at turn one and got it done, though Bottas did come back and nearly tagged the back of the Alpine twice in the following corners.
Lap 40 of 71 - Top 10 and gaps
Drivers in bold yet to stop.
Lap 39 of 71 - Not really sure this race has much interest in it as it stands
No really wacky strategies out there yet at the front. Mercedes' cars are on the same strategy as it stands as are both Red Bulls. Verstappen leads Hamilton by 8.2s and, all things being normal, that is going to be a tough amount of time for Hamilton to make up.
How will he do it? Verstappen could go to the end on these tyres? Hamilton probably will, though that depends where we are in another 15 laps...
Lap 38 of 71 - Bad news for Russell
He has been told to lift and coast... for the rest of the race. Ouch.
"This tyre is not as good as the medium," Hamilton says on the radio. He's right, but is told the medium has some drop-off towards the end of the straight.
Lap 37 of 71 - Hamilton has a bit of trouble in his mirrors
Perez is now within DRS range... and the Red Bull tends to be quite slippery on the straight.
Lap 36 of 71 - Alonso up into fifth
He has yet to stop. Bottas in sixth, who has also yet to stop.
Lap 35 of 71 - Top four and gaps
All of these have now stopped:
The Red Bulls on the mediums, the Mercedes cars on the hards. Perez making ground on Hamilton, here.
Lap 34 of 71 - Russell leads Verstappen
Russell, though, then comes into the pits from the lead. He switches to hard tyres, like his team-mate. Hmmm.
Lap 33 of 71 - Russell says he wants to finish the race on softs
Can't think he'd go medium/soft, so maybe medium/medium/soft? Not sure. He's told it would mean going long.
Guess the plan might be indeed for him to go long. Long enough to hold up Verstappen a bit and help his team-mate... the gap between the pair is 8.5s at the moment.
Lap 32 of 71 - Russell leads Verstappen by 10.1s
Russell yet to stop, but lapping around 0.7-1.0sec slower than Verstappen. Hamilton's lap times are half decent compared to Verstappen.
Lap 31 of 71 - Hamilton has lost out in those stops
He is now 6.5sec or so behind Verstappen, when the gap was around two seconds behind Verstappen stopped.
Lap 30 of 71 - Top 10 and gaps after Hamilton's stop
Drivers in bold have stopped.
Lap 29 of 71 - In comes Leclerc
It's a 2.3sec stop for the Ferrari driver. He comes out in 10th, behind Lando Norris, Yuki Tsunoda and Daniel Ricciardo.
Hamilton is coming in... responding to the rapid Red Bull lap times. It's the hard compound tyres, so that suggests a one-stopper?
Lap 28 of 71 - Hamilton leads Russell by 5.5s
It's a 1:22.494 for Verstappen and a a 1:23.346 for Hamilton, who is complaining about "cuts" in his engine.
Verstappen, meanwhile, isn't happy with his gear-sync.
The shifts are s---- again.
Lap 27 of 71 - Perez gets Leclerc for fifth at turn one
...and the crowd go quite, quite wild. A straight-forward move, with DRS up the inside. In fairness, it was done before he even hit the brakes. Let's see what Verstappen's lap times are now in comparison to Hamilton...
Lap 26 of 71 - Verstappen comes out in third after his stop
A second or so ahead of the Ferrari of Carlos Sainz. Perez has just set the fastest lap of the race on fresh mediums. Hamilton is told to go "target plus six", which means a first stint six laps longer than their initial target.
— Formula 1 (@F1) October 30, 2022
Hamilton, then, leads Russell by 5.6s with Verstappen a further 14.4s behind Russell.
Lap 25 of 71 - Hamilton on the radio
My tyres are okay, mate.
Verstappen then shortly after complains that his front-left is "dead".
He's coming in... Hamilton inherits the lead. It's a tidy stop for Verstappen, 2.5sec.
Lap 24 of 71 - It's a slow stop for Perez
A slow change on the rear left tyre. That was a five-second stop, so that cost him at least two seconds. Russell is on a different strategy so may not stop now.
Will Verstappen come in on this lap? Nope. Verstappen leads Hamilton by 1.7s.
Lap 23 of 71 - Hamilton not exactly rapidly gaining on Verstappen...
...despite his tyre troubles. Having said that, Hamilton takes three-tenths out of Verstappen in the first sector. He's really struggling to get the car to turn in in the twisty final sector...
Out come the Red Bull mechanics... but it's for Perez and not Verstappen. Okay.
Lap 22 of 71 - Verstappen on the radio
The tyres are starting to struggle now in the low speed.
Lap 21 of 71 - Top 15
Hamilton gains a couple of tenths on Verstappen on the last lap. Russell is told that the Dutchman is struggling with his tyres.
Lap 20 of 71 - Verstappen stays out
His lead is now 2.2s. Stroll is the first driver to stop, changing to the soft tyres.
Lap 19 of 71 - Painful afternoon for Ferrari so far
Sainz a full 10 seconds behind Russell, Leclerc four seconds behind him.
Lap 18 of 71 - Verstappen still edging ahead, 2.4s the lead now
Russell within two seconds of Perez for third, but Perez keeping a good pace up.
Lap 17 of 71 - Is a Verstappen pit stop approaching?
He's finding pace here. Gasly to get a five-second penalty for that incident with Stroll.
Lap 16 of 71 - Top 10 and gaps
Verstappen was told to break the tow a few laps ago. He's done that pretty well.
Verstappen says he's struggling with bouncing and he isn't able to get onto the kerbs.
Lap 15 of 71 - Race control notes incident between Gasly and Stroll
Verstappen increases his lead to nearly 1.8s again.
Lap 14 of 71 - Hamilton with another fastest lap
This time it takes a little bit more out. Are the mediums coming into play for Hamilton now?
Lap 13 of 71 - Hamilton with the new fastest lap last time around
It was, however, just 0.019s faster than Verstappen. Meanwhile, Gasly and Stroll nearly have a coming together... Gasly got the place at the second chicane but locked up and then ran Stroll of the road. He needs to give the place back, surely? But he has not yet done that.
Lap 12 of 71 - Stroll on the radio
Sliding everywhere man, I have no f------ grip!
He's in 15th, 2.5s behind Aston Martin team-mate Sebastian Vettel, but with Pierre Gasly right on his rear wing.
Lap 11 of 71 - As you were out front
Not much else happening out on the track. We can only hope that an interesting battle plays out throughout the rest of the race. It might... divergent strategies and all. How long will Red Bull go? It's a long race in difficult conditions. The Dutchman seems to be finding some pace, though, setting the fastest middle sector of the race, nearly 0.2s quicker than Hamilton.
Lap 10 of 71 - Bottas is closing in on Alonso
Just 0.6s between them now. Verstappen leads Hamilton by 1.7s.
Lap 9 of 71 - Ricciardo gets Zhou at turn one
He moves up into 12th with it. A moderately decent weekend for the Australian so far this weekend.
Lap 8 of 71 - Top 10 and gaps
Hamilton has dropped back a bit. Cooling of the various bits of the cars is an issue at this high-altitude track.
Lap 7 of 71 - Verstappen takes a couple of tenths out of Hamilton
His lead is pretty much where it was, though. Perez has dropped a bit further back.
Lap 6 of 71 - Verstappen and Hamilton very evenly matched here
Further down the field: Tsunoda is in 11th, Zhou in 12th and Ricciardo in 13th. Magnussen is still where he started, 20th and last.
Lap 5 of 71 - Verstappen leads Hamilton by 1.3s
Hamilton has just set the fastest lap of the race to close the gap by just over a tenth. Perez is 1.3s behind Hamilton with Russell a further 2.3s behind him. Nobody in the top six is within DRS range of anyone else, unfortunately.
Lap 4 of 71 - Russell didn't have contact with anyone at the start
He went to the outside at turn one, that allowed Hamilton up the inside at turn three and he avoided him, giving him space and that put him roughly over the kerbs... then on the run down to turn four Sergio Perez had a better exit and moved up.
All hope is not lost for Mercedes here. Hamilton clinging on and they are also on a different strategy to Red Bull here.
Lap 3 of 71 - Top 10
Lap 2 of 71 - Verstappen leads Hamilton by 1.4s
Bottas has slipped back to eighth behind Alonso. Verstappen leads Hamilton and then Perez, Russell, Sainz and Leclerc. So the six fastest cars in the top six.
THE 2022 MEXICAN GRAND PRIX IS GO!
It's a decent start for Verstappen... but Russell closes up on the Red Bull going into the first corner... Verstappen has the confidence on the brakes to keep the lead, though. Hamilton and Russell then get close... is there contact between Russell and Verstappen into turn three, though? He went quite hard over the kerbs.
— Formula 1 (@F1) October 30, 2022
Russell drops back to fourth behind Perez with Hamilton now in second...
Verstappen leads by 1.3s from Hamilton at the end of lap one.
The formation lap is go
Softs for Verstappen... mediums for Mercedes. Then softs for Perez and Sainz. A real mix. Nobody on the hards.
— Pirelli Motorsport (@pirellisport) October 30, 2022
It's not a guaranteed SC kind of track... but it is quite tight in the final sector and that often leads to shunts there, especially when cars are battling.
Not long until lights go out
It is often a tasty first corner, with contact quite frequent. It continues to tighten into turn two and then three with a long run down to another chicane, which also presents a good overtaking opportunity.
Toto Wolff speaks to to Sky Sports F1
He says their best chance is to get a tow. Sounds like it will be aggressive for Mercedes today. Might be their best chance to get a win in 2022. And there are only two races left after this one, in any case.
Starting grid for today's race
1. VER 2. RUS
3. HAM 4. PER
5. SAI 6. BOT
8. LEC 8. NOR
9. ALO 10. OCO
11. RIC 12. ZHO
13. TSU 14. GAS
15. MSC 16. VET
17. ALB 18. LAT
19. MAT 20. STR
Raw pace ranking after 20 rounds
In other words, this is how quick, on average each team has been over the season so far.
Lando Norris speaks to Sky Sports F1's Martin Brundle on his gridwalk
It's pretty low grip as expected... it never feels amazing here which is a thing. I expect a difficult race. We have been having a lot of problems with the brakes... my foot is moving a lot even through a braking zone. It doesn't give me a lot of confidence coming into the race when you have such big breaking zones. I am going to try and deal with it, hopefully it goes away.
Loving Sergio Perez's helmet here
Will we see it on the podium and the following raucous celebrations as we did last year?
Average qualifying positions so far this year
The pit lane is open
Which means it's 40 minutes or so until the race starts.
Always a cracking driver parade here
Russell notched up his first qualifying win over Hamilton yesterday
Here's how the team-mate head-to-head looks after qualifying yesterday.
Current championship standings - Top 10
Russell thinks Mercedes have a chance here
"We definitely can beat Red Bull...but we are going to have to be strategic" 🧠
George Russell saying what every Mercedes fan wants to hear 😅 pic.twitter.com/Ar3SfZgkpI
— Sky Sports F1 (@SkySportsF1) October 29, 2022
What Verstappen said after qualifying yesterday
It was a good qualifying. It was a close one... got into a better rhythm. To be pole on here is amazing. It's a very long run to turn one so we need a good start. We have a very good car but that's what is important. It's incredible, the passion of all the fans here. It's amazing to drive here.
News: Red Bull team to boycott Sky Sports over perceived title dig
Verstappen refused to address the broadcaster after he was made aware of comments made by Sky Sports' pit-lane reporter Ted Kravitz.
Times after qualifying
1. Max Verstappen (Ned) Red Bull 1min 17.775secs
2. George Russell (Gbr) Mercedes GP 1:18.079,
3. Lewis Hamilton (Gbr) Mercedes GP 1:18.084,
4. Sergio Perez (Mex) Red Bull 1:18.128,
5. Carlos Sainz Jr. (Spa) Ferrari 1:18.351,
6. Valtteri Bottas (Fin) Alfa Romeo Racing 1:18.401,
7. Charles Leclerc (Mon) Ferrari 1:18.555,
8. Lando Norris (Gbr) McLaren 1:18.721,
9. Fernando Alonso (Spa) Alpine 1:18.939,
10. Esteban Ocon (Fra) Alpine 1:19.010,
11. Daniel Ricciardo (Aus) McLaren 1:19.325,
12. Guanyu Zhou (Chn) Alfa Romeo Racing 1:19.476,
13. Yuki Tsunoda (Jpn) Scuderia AlphaTauri 1:19.589,
14. Pierre Gasly (Fra) Scuderia AlphaTauri 1:19.672,
15. Kevin Magnussen (Den) Haas F1 1:19.833,
16. Mick Schumacher (Ger) Haas F1 1:20.419,
17. Sebastian Vettel (Ger) Aston Martin 1:20.419,
18. Lance Stroll (Can) Aston Martin 1:20.520,
19. Alexander Albon (Tha) Williams 1:20.859,
20. Nicholas Latifi (Can) Williams 1:21.167
Good afternoon F1 fans
Welcome to our coverage of the 2022 Mexico City Grand Prix – or, the Mexican Grand Prix to most of us who do not really want to deal with marginally silly "official" titles – from the Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez. Max Verstappen already has the drivers' title sealed and his team Red Bull also clinched the constructors' last week in Austin. What next, then, for Verstappen?
Well, he starts on pole after qualifying yesterday, when he saw off the close threat of Mercedes. Lewis Hamilton did not have the pace to beat him, George Russell perhaps had a bit in his pocket but messed up his final flying lap to ensure it would be Verstappen's sixth pole of the season. Did Russell have that three-tenths to dislodge Verstappen? He certainly thought so.
"They've [Mercedes] produced a really great car this weekend. I feel like it was our pole to have and it was a terrible lap [from me]. We brought an update to Austin and it didn't really give it the opportunity to show it was capable of," he said after the session finished.
Hamilton too seemed buoyant and starts third, though he did have his first flying lap in Q3 deleted which probably limited, to some extent, how all-out he went on his crucial second run. "The Red Bulls are naturally so fast. This is the best qualifying we've had all year," the seven-time champion said. "Perseverance and never giving up is the way forward. I think generally my laps have been pretty good... the last lap wasn't good enough, but just keep pushing. I am pretty happy with that position."
He is perhaps right to be. It's a very long run down to the first corner here and that tends to give an advantage to the driver who starts in third. It has been a long and winless season for Mercedes, but it feels like they are getting somewhere. Can they break their duck in Mexico? It will be difficult but this could present an even better chance than Austin last week.
Sergio Perez was a fairly distant fourth for Red Bull whilst the two Ferraris were even more distant: Carlos Sainz in fifth was around six-tenths slower than Verstappen and Charles Leclerc in eight was nearly 0.8sec off the Dutchman. Valtteri Bottas had such a fine qualifying session that he split the two Scuderia cars with his Alfa Romeo and will start sixth.
The race begins at 8pm GMT and we will be here for all of the build-up, latest updates and reaction from Mexico.