Back in pole position once again, Charles Leclerc started the Mexican Grand Prix in first place, just ahead of his Scuderia Ferrari teammate Carlos Sainz. However, the red one-two lasted only seconds after the lights went out to signal the start of the race, as Red Bull’s Max Verstappen and Sergio Perez flanked the Ferraris to take their lead.
While Verstappen got past Sainz and then Leclerc on the inside with scary speed, Perez took the long way around the outside of the Monegasque, catching his wheel against that of the prancing horse. This launched the home hero up in the air and out of the race at only the first corner of the first lap, leaving the vast Mexican crowd in attendance understandably shocked. Meanwhile, Leclerc soldiered on with only a bit of his front wing missing.
The home crowd’s reaction after the race was less understandable, as they booed Leclerc who was not at fault. Directly addressing the crowd, Leclerc said “I’m hearing a lot of boo’s because I touched with Perez and he went off, I’m sorry guys but I had nowhere to go and did not by any means want to take him out like that.”
Verstappen began extending his lead over Leclerc in the Red Bull rocket ship thereafter, and with that the race result seemed to already be consolidated, until Kevin Magnussen lost control of his Haas halfway through the race and had such a nasty shunt into the barrier at ‘Turn 8’ that race control had no other choice but to ‘Red Flag’ the race.
The subsequent race restart was a standing one, with Verstappen losing his massive lead and gaining it back again. A bold Lewis Hamilton demonstrated his experience with a heart-stopping overtake on Leclerc a few laps later, squeezing his Mercedes past to a loud roar from the home crowd.
The Mercedes man held onto second place until the end, crossing the line behind Verstappen who happened to win a record 16th GP in one season, while Leclerc completed the podium in third place.
Sainz finished his race in fourth place, while McLaren’s Lando Norris deservedly claimed the fan voted ‘Driver of the Day’ award with a colossal drive from 17th place at the start right up to fifth at the chequered flag.
Unfortunately the home crowd slightly let down the event when they booed Leclerc after the race concluded. Directly addressing the haters, Leclerc said “I’m hearing a lot of boo’s because I touched with Perez and he went off, I’m sorry guys but I had nowhere to go and did not by any means want to take him out like that.”
The drivers will not have long to cool off as preparations begin for the Brazilian GP just a week later, on Sunday, November 5.
Featured image courtesy of @ScuderiaFerrari on X