A return to a circuit, especially one where the sport hasn’t been back to for 23 years is almost unheard of, but that is what Formula One has done. What an amazing return it is as well, with the whole population of 20 million in Mexico City behind them. The atmosphere unrivalled possibly, even against the familiar British, Italian or Japanese Grand Prix.
Qualifying saw Mercedes at the top of the order again, once again in qualifying Nico Rosberg leading the way. Kimi Raikkonen who had already taken a five place penalty for changing his gearbox fell even further back by changing his engine overnight.
With the formation lap starting only three drivers would start on the medium tyre, and it would be those world champions at the back of the grid – Jenson Button, Fernando Alonso and Kimi Raikkonen.
The drivers line up on the grid, with Hamilton backing the field up on the way to the grid. With the lights going out it was a good start from Hamilton and Rosberg, along with Kvyat. Rosberg led into the first corner. Vettel slowed mid way through the lap after a collision with the Red Bull. Kvyat up to third and Ricciardo fourth. Alonso in 16th reported a loss of power, with the team telling him to retire at the end of the first lap.
Vettel pitted at the end of the first lap, and was held up by Alonso coming into his pit box to retire. The Ferrari took the medium tyre, aiming to go to the end of the race.
Bottas had a go on the back of Ricciardo for fourth on the fourth lap, but even with the use of DRS wasn’t able to get ahead of the Red Bull. Verstappen made his way ahead of Massa, while Raikkonen was told that his brakes were too hot. Lewis Hamilton set the fastest lap of the race, with the gap to Rosberg to under a second.
Kimi Raikkonen had overtaken Nasr on lap 7 for 14th place, and was then right on the back of Ericsson. He got ahead of him even before the end of the lap. Lewis Hamilton dropped back from his team mate at the same time, moving out of the German’s wake. Bottas moved slightly further back on the Red Bull as well.
Bottas pitted on lap 9 in the Williams for a set of the medium tyres, 62 laps to go until the end of the lap. Felipe Massa pitted a lap later, with Nico Hulkenberg also pitting on the same lap. The pit stops brought Kimi Raikkonen into the top ten, with the Finn overtaking Grosjean, and went ahead of Pastor Maldonado who pitted. Bottas overtook Button having caught the back of the field after his pitstop, he was then straight down the inside of Felipe Nasr.
Grosjean pitted a lap after his team mate, while Nico Rosberg set the fastest lap of the race. Sergio Perez, who was looking after his tyres was being hounded by Carlos Sainz. Red Bull said over the radio to Ricciardo that they would be sticking to plan A, which looks like a one-stop. Grosjean came out in front of Maldonado after his pit stop.
Sainz pitted on lap 14, after running very closely behind Perez. He came out ahead of Sebastian Vettel, but behind Nico Hulkenberg. Vettel got the Toro Rosso a lap later, with the Ferrari heading towards the McLaren of Jenson Button. The Toro Rosso latched onto the back of the Ferrari, with Vettel making the move stick half way down the main straight. Sainz had a small look at the McLaren as well.
Vettel went off at the esses on lap 18, letting the Lotus drivers and the Toro Rosso past. He lost the car on entry, with Sainz getting ahead of Button on the same lap.
Perez pitted from sixth place on lap 19, a set of the medium tyres and he came out behind Carlos Sainz. Nico Rosberg set another fastest lap of the race in the lead. Vettel said that he had a bad flat spot over the radio. Hamilton returned the favour a lap later.
Dany Kvyat pitted on lap 22 from third place, he too took the medium tyre and came out ahead of Kimi Raikkonen and Valtteri Bottas. The Williams and Ferrari were having a big battle. They came together again, with Kimi Raikkonen getting rear suspension broken in the process. The Williams continued.
Daniel Ricciardo pitted on lap 25 in the Red Bull. Both Williams drivers got ahead of Ricciardo. Nico Rosberg stopped a lap later in the Mercedes, along with Max Verstappen. It was a quick stop for the leader at 2.5 seconds. Vettel tied to go up the inside of Maldonado into the first corner, but he was going far too quickly with the Lotus driver taking the place back.
Lewis Hamilton pitted at the end of lap 28, with the Brit not doing quite enough to take the lead. Vettel said over the radio that his tyres were not in great shape, he had an early pit stop and the spin which would have caused that.
On the new tyres Lewis Hamilton was setting a charge taking chucks out of Rosberg’s lead. Sainz locked up and went over the grass when Perez was attacking keeping the position he would otherwise would have lost. He fell back slightly, and let the Mexican through in the stadium.
Vettel pitted on lap 36 in the Ferrari, it was another set of the medium compound tyres. The German reported that there was debris in turn 10.
The order after 42 laps was Rosberg, Hamilton, Kvyat, Bottas, Massa, Ricciardo.
Debris on the race track, reported by Vettel was removed by a marshal on lap 44, while Carlos Sainz pitted. He came out behind the Ferrari of Sebastian Vettel, the only Ferrari left in the race.
Rosberg pitted on lap 47 after being told that he was going to the end of the race. Hamilton was told that he would also go the same, not wanting to push the tyres too long. The team were waiting for Hamilton on that lap, with Hamilton going around again on the stop. Lewis said over the radio why, but he was told to do so on safety reasons. After a negotiation at the end of the lap, Lewis pitted for a second time Rosberg retaking the lead of the race. Nico also went on to set the fastest lap of the race.
Further back Massa was being hounded by the Red Bull of Ricciardo. Williams having taken their early pit stop. At the front, Lewis Hamilton fell further back with Rosberg setting another fastest lap.
The Williams was really struggling with the tyres, they would have to stop again – the Red Bull having another 16 laps on the tyres. Ricciardo got past the Williams at the first corner, while Perez finally got ahead of Max Verstappen after the Dutchman made a mistake going into the stadium. Vettel crashed in the esses, into the barriers with the safety car being deployed.
Bottas stayed out in the Williams, while a number of other drivers including Massa, Hulkenberg, Ricciardo. Bottas pitted a lap later in the Williams, and came out in fourth. Perez also stayed out in the Force India.
The safety car came in at the end of lap 57, very slow through the stadium section with Rosberg leading the way. Bottas made the move on Kvyat for third. Sainz once again locked his brakes. Felipe Nasr went off at the stadium, driving off the track saying that his ‘brakes were finished’. Both Nico Rosberg and Lewis Hamilton went off the circuit on the same lap, Bottas was able to keep speed with them.
Kvyat was closer to the back of Bottas, although the Mercedes engine of the Williams made sure he stayed ahead. Massa behind the Red Bull’s was also closing in. Grosjean was pressing Verstappen for ninth. Maldonado went wide at turn 12 and very nearly hit the wall on the outside.
With five laps remaining, Lewis Hamilton once again set the fastest lap, closing the lap back to just over a second. Rosberg hit back a lap later, eeking the gap out slightly. Hamilton brought the gap down to a second a lap later, with the Brit having a scruffy end to the lap falling back once again.
It would be Nico Rosberg though for him to retain his lead to win the Mexican Grand Prix from Lewis Hamilton and Valtteri Bottas in third for Williams.