Two races after the Dutchman won his second successive world drivers’ title in Japan, and one race after the team won its first constructors’ championship in nine years in the United States, Sunday’s Mexican Grand Prix saw another entry into the sport’s history books. Verstappen’s 14th victory for the year set a single-season record for one driver in one campaign and extended Red Bull’s rollicking run in 2022.
Verstappen’s victory was the ninth in succession for Red Bull, matching the best run ever enjoyed by the team when Sebastian Vettel won the final nine races of the 2013 season. It meant the team was represented on the podium for the 19th consecutive race, another record. By adding 25 points to his world championship tally, Verstappen (416 points) surpassed Lewis Hamilton’s tally of 413 points from 2019 to set a new benchmark in points for one season – and there’s still two races to go.
Even better for the team? Home hero Sergio Pérez repeated his third-place result at the Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez from last year and sent the massive weekend crowd of 395,902 fans home happy, with Checo reclaiming second in the world drivers’ standings behind Verstappen as Red Bull looks to finish 1-2 for the first time.
The longest run into the first corner of any track on the calendar (1,063 metres) often means starting on the second row and using a slipstream to slingshot into first place is the better option. But Verstappen started on soft tyres to allow for a speedier getaway when the lights went out, even if that meant his tyre durability would be compromised later on. He duly held his lead into the first corner and cleared off, but relinquished that advantage to Hamilton on Lap 25 when he pitted for medium-compound rubber.
Hamilton pitted three laps later and fitted hard tyres in a clear message that he’d be running to the end, so the pressure was then on Verstappen to baby his medium tyres to the chequered flag or risk taking another pit stop and losing track position to the Mercedes. It was a balancing act Verstappen aced, and as the laps counted down, the Dutchman slowly but surely broke Hamilton’s resistance.
Red Bull Racing celebrates a record breaking 14th GP victory in one season for Max Verstappen (NLD) Red Bull Racing and third place for Sergio Perez (MEX) Red Bull Racing. 30.10.2022. Formula 1 World Championship, Rd 20, Mexican Grand Prix, Mexico City, Mexico, Race Day. – www.xpbimages.com
Pérez warmed up for his home Grand Prix weekend with a Red Bull showcar run around the streets of his home town Guadalajara, where 130,000 screaming fans could be heard over the noise of the old-school V8 engine powering the RB7, cheering their hero’s every move.
You didn’t need to consult a timing screen to know where Pérez was on the track on Sunday. You just listened for where the crowd was at its loudest – and it was never louder than on the first lap when Pérez capitalised on a loss of momentum from front-row starter George Russell (Mercedes) to ambush the Briton into Turn 4, immediately placing himself in podium contention from fourth on the grid.
Mexico was a case of so near yet so far for Pierre Gasly. The Scuderia AlphaTauridriver finished 11th and one place out of the points behind Alfa Romeo’s Valtteri Bottas by just half a second after 71 laps, his late-race comeback falling agonisingly short.
Gasly, from 14th on grid, was hit with a five-second penalty when he was deemed to have forced Aston Martin’s Lance Stroll off the track at Turn 4. But he wasn’t able to reprise his outstanding run to fourth place at the same circuit 12 months ago.
Ricciardo’s final season at McLaren has been mostly lacklustre, but the Australian came alive after his penalty for the Tsunoda incident to storm through the field on soft tyres to finish seventh, retaining the position even after his penalty was applied post-race and earning Driver of the Day status from the sport’s fans for his swashbuckling final stint.
Elsewhere, Bottas holding off Gasly for the final point in 10th place was as significant for the Finn as it was damaging for the Frenchman. Bottas had scored 46 points in the first nine races of the year, but none in the following 10 Grands Prix before Sunday.
Just two rounds remain in the equal-longest (with last year) Formula One season ever, and it’s a geographically tricky back-to-back that features two tracks at opposite ends of the history spectrum.
Before the season finale in Abu Dhabi (November 20), the series heads south from Mexico City to Brazil and the Autódromo José Carlos Pace. k It’s known to everyone in F1 as Interlagos for the packed neighbourhood in which it resides, for the Brazil GP (November 13).
F1 first visited Interlagos in 1972. The place oozes history, and a roll call of winners that reads like Brazilian motorsport royalty with Emerson Fittipaldi, Carlos Pace, Nelson Piquet and, of course, Ayrton Senna among the local drivers who’ve sent the F1-loving Paulistas into raptures over the years.