Max Verstappen swept to victory once again after heartbreak for his Red Bull teammate, Sergio Pérez, with a fantastic return to the podium for Hamilton and Leclerc.
Charles Leclerc placed on pole for a career 22nd time, with Carlos Sainz creating a Ferrari lock-out on the front row. Verstappen qualified in third, and his old teammate, Daniel Ricciardo qualified in a sensational fourth (certainly proving his worth to the Red Bull organisation), a new record for Alpha Tauri this season. Hometown hero, Mexican driver Sergio Pérez qualified in fifth, and Lando Norris, a driver who is normally near the front of the grid, had a disaster in qualifying and was starting in 17th.
As the lights went out, Verstappen had a fantastic start and pulled away between the two Ferraris. Pérez got a better start than his teammate, with a 0.23s reaction time to Verstappen’s 0.28, and lunged down the outside of Leclerc, almost looking as though he could take the lead. However, Leclerc was sandwiched between the two Red Bull cars, and Pérez’s right rear tyre made contact with the Ferrari’s front wing, which limited the car’s performance during the race. The Red Bull was sent flying and spun off the track – tragedy for the Mexican driver in front of his home crowd.
Verstappen led the race ahead of Leclerc and Sainz. Lewis Hamilton, who had started in sixth, passed Ricciardo and took fourth. Verstappen pitted on lap 20, leaving Leclerc to lead the Grand Prix with Sainz in second and Hamilton in third. Ricciardo was still holding on steadfastly to fourth, a very impressive drive so far from the Australian driver.
Hamilton pitted on lap 25, hoping to get the undercut on Sainz. Ferrari did not respond straight away, and instead kept both cars out for longer, perhaps hoping that fresher tyres towards the end of the race would do them well.
By lap 26, Norris had made an impressive comeback – he was now riding in eleventh behind his teammate, Oscar Piastri, in tenth. He had started on soft tyres which allowed him to overtake the drivers ahead of him rapidly at the start, and then pitted onto hard tyres, placing him in ninth by lap 30.
Verstappen regained the lead, overtaking the cars behind Leclerc and inheriting the lead once the Monegasque driver pitted. Leclerc came back into the race in second, but only three seconds ahead of Hamilton. Meanwhile, Haas’ Kevin Magnussen had driven off the track, foreshadowing the high velocity crash he had due to a rear suspension failure on the following lap. Thankfully, the Danish driver was alright, but his car was beyond repair, with the rear of the Haas in flames. The safety car was therefore deployed, and the red flag was subsequently waved.
At the restart, Verstappen once again pulled away at the front. He did well to stay ahead – race restarts are notorious for being dangerous for the person in the lead as it provides yet another opportunity for them to be overtaken. Norris did not have such a good start, getting a lot of wheelspin while shifting up gears, and dropped back to fifteenth.
Hamilton eventually overtook Leclerc on lap 40 into turn one, now driving in second position. Norris once again was having a great recovery drive, rising back into the points by lap 47 when he overtook Nico Hülkenberg. It was a bad day for Fernando Alonso though, who was forced to retire on the same lap after sustained damage from running over debris, further adding to his recent run of bad form.
Meanwhile, Piastri and Yuki Tsunoda were battling it out further down the grid. They made slight contact on lap 48 as Tsunoda attempted to go around the outside of the McLaren, but on the following lap, Tsunoda lunged down the outside of Piastri, which spun the Alpha Tauri off the track. Tsunoda dropped into 16th, but Piastri managed to maintain his position in seventh.
However, Piastri was soon asked to let his teammate Norris through, and after a lock-up, he let him pass easily to push forwards and battle with Ricciardo ahead. Ricciardo defended his position spectacularly, but Norris still managed to get ahead and set after George Russell. He soon got past the Mercedes and was now riding in fifth.
It continued to be a bad day for Aston Martin as Lance Stroll was forced to retire the car after a collision with Valtteri Bottas sent him spinning off the track.
Verstappen crossed underneath the chequered flag to take yet another victory, with Hamilton in second and Leclerc in third. Sainz, Norris, Russell, Ricciardo, Piastri, Albon and Ocon rounded off the points finishes.
This race provided a rollercoaster of emotion. Simultaneous victory and disaster for Red Bull, bad luck for Aston Martin but a fantastic performance at Alpha Tauri. For me, the most impressive drives came from Ricciardo and Norris – the former massively outperforming his car, the latter having one of his best drives in Formula 1 thus far. At a track where drama is sometimes lacking, the Autódromo Hermanos Rodríguez failed to disappoint.