In a record-extending weekend, Max Verstappen dominated proceedings during the Mexico City Grand Prix as he claimed a 16th Formula 1 win of the season.

Despite his dominance on Sunday, there were several other drivers who presented performances worthy of competing for top honours in Motorsport Week’s driver ratings.

Max Verstappen – 9

Qualified: P3, Race: P1

Verstappen may have topped every single practice session for the Mexico City Grand Prix but was unable to sweep the weekend after qualifying third.

Ultimately, that didn’t matter as it gave him a powerful tow on the approach to Turn 1, where he escaped the tangle that ended his team-mate’s race. From there, he was able to run away from the pack and build a comfortable lead.

The well-oiled machine that is the Verstappen-Red Bull partnership was truly in a class of its own and the near 14-second winning margin could have been far greater without the minor inconvenience of the red flag.

Sergio Perez – 2.5

Qualified: P5, Race: DNF

While there were scenes of jubilation on one side of the Red Bull garage, home hero Sergio Perez faltered on his biggest weekend of the year.

Mexico provided the perfect stage for a drive to reassert his claim to that second Red Bull seat. And while he was a respectable 0.160s off Verstappen in qualifying, the irony of them being split by Daniel Ricciardo wouldn’t reduce the growing pressure on his position.

Perez got a blistering getaway off the line and would challenge for the lead alongside Verstappen and Charles Leclerc. What followed was an epitomic case of ‘You can’t win a 71-lap race at the first corner’. Turning in on Leclerc, who was unable to make his car disappear, Perez’s desperation superseded talent and racecraft.

He later attempted to justify the move as the option his compatriots in the grandstand would have chosen over caution, but the true cost is greater than failing to finish his home race. Instead, he heads to Brazil with yet another massive blow to his confidence.

Lewis Hamilton – 9

Qualified: P6, Race: P2

Lewis Hamilton managed to recover from a sub-par P6 grid spot to drive to a second-place finish, providing some solace after forfeiting that same result in the United States through a breach of the technical regulations.

Hamilton was the far stronger Mercedes driver over the course of the weekend and he displayed great pace and determination after the red flag.

That determination was embodied in his dispatch of Leclerc for P2, also snatching the bonus point for the fastest lap on the final lap of the race.

Max Verstappen (NLD), Red Bull Racing Lewis Hamilton (GBR), Mercedes AMG F1
29.10.2023. Formula 1 World Championship, Rd 20, Mexican Grand Prix, Mexico City, Mexico, Race Day.
–, EMail: © Copyright: Charniaux / XPB Images

George Russell – 5.5

Qualified: P8, Race: P6

George Russell was unable to match the seven-time champion in Mexico despite feeling strong behind the wheel. Compromised too by a lowly grid spot given the evident pace of the W14, Russell was unable to get to grips with the tyres during the race.

He made some forward progress after the restart, but that was halted when he was asked to address his overheating brakes and lost temperature in his tyres.

He then fell into the clutches of Norris and almost slipped further to seventh, crossing the line half a second ahead of a charging Ricciardo.

Charles Leclerc – 9

Qualified: P1, Race: P3

Leclerc claimed a 22nd career pole on Saturday, but while his poor streak of converting superior one-lap pace into a race win continues, was there really any answer for Verstappen?

The long run to Turn 1 saw him swamped and caught between the Red Bulls, but the Monegasque was a faultless victim in the opening lap carnage.

Despite picking up damage in the tangle, Leclerc was still able to keep Verstappen in his sights, only denied finishing second by the red flag resetting proceedings.

Carlos Sainz– 7

Qualified: P2, Race: P4

Sainz was able to join Leclerc on the front row but the Spaniard was still no match for his team-mate despite piloting an unwounded Ferrari.

Sainz too struggled with tyre degradation but was able to hold off Russell well in the latter stages of the event.

Even with the struggles, P4 secures a solid points haul Ferrari managed to outscore a resurgent McLaren outfit for the first time since Singapore.

Lando Norris – 8.5

Qualified: P19, Race: P5

Qualifying was a disaster for Norris as the Briton aborted his two early runs in Q1. That left him with no representative time and a spin by Fernando Alonso saw him eliminated.

Someone of Norris’ calibre should have been better prepared for the situation, particularly after being left with no real banker lap time and he was caught out.

Norris joked that his mistakes forecasted a more entertaining race. His recovery to fifth was emphatic. He carved through the field on an offset strategy, which will leave him ruing a compromised Saturday which cost him yet another podium finish.

Oscar Piastri – 6

Qualified: P7, Race: P8

The sole McLaren in Q3, the rookie showed some decent pace on Sunday and found himself in plenty of battles throughout the day.

One of those involved a coming together with Yuki Tsunoda, although the AlphaTauri driver was probably more to blame for the incident.

Again, Piastri’s struggles with tyre management limited his progress and saw him fall backwards in the latter stages of his stints.

Daniel Ricciardo – 9.5

Qualified: P4, Race: P7

As Perez floundered, Ricciardo delivered a stellar weekend almost effortlessly and, in doing so, cranked up the pressure on the Red Bull driver greatly.

He split the Red Bulls in qualifying with inferior machinery with a lap time that was within 0.25s of pole.

While the Perez comparison was erased at Turn 1, Ricciardo backed up his Saturday statement with some sturdy defence against the two Mercedes’ and McLarens.

While he eventually lost positions to Hamilton and Norris, Mexico showed flashes of the Ricciardo of old as he fought back to recoup those places, almost nabbing P6 from Russell.

Daniel Ricciardo (AUS) AlphaTauri AT04.
29.10.2023. Formula 1 World Championship, Rd 20, Mexican Grand Prix, Mexico City, Mexico, Race Day.
–, EMail: © Copyright: Charniaux / XPB Images

Yuki Tsunoda – 4

Qualified: P15, Race: P12

Tsunoda qualified 15th after assisting Ricciardo to Q3 with a tow in Q1 and Q2, having sat out FP1 for Isack Hadjar. A grid penalty for new engine components already sentenced him to a back-of-the-grid start.

As Ricciardo proved, points were more than capable for AlphaTauri on Sunday and the same was true for Tsunoda.

That was at least the case until he twice made contact with Piastri at the opening complex. The second incident with Piastri saw him clumsily pitch himself into a spin at Turn 1 which jeopardised any chance of points after looking set for P8 behind Ricciardo.

Alex Albon – 8

Qualified: P14, Race: P9

Albon had twice placed second in practice for the Mexico City Grand Prix this weekend but was unable to carry the same pace into qualifying on the hotter track.

Still, he should have appeared in Q3 after having his final Q2 run deleted for a questionable track limits decision. However, he would further consolidate seventh in the standings for Williams as he picked up two important points with ninth place in the FW45.

Albon blamed the red flag for ruining his race slightly, but P9 still represented the expected maximum for the Anglo-Thai driver.

Logan Sargeant – 4

Qualified: P20, Race: DNF

The American faced a mountain to climb on Sunday if he wanted to emulate his team-mate’s success after consolidating his back-row start with a 10-place grid penalty for yellow flag infringements in qualifying.

Sargeant showed a solid pace early in a more encouraging Sunday when compared to his Friday and Saturday running.

A fuel pump issue led to retirement on the last lap as Williams sought to prevent any unnecessary damage to the engine.

Esteban Ocon – 6

Qualified: P16, Race: P10

Ocon looked comfortable in the Alpine, although there was an apparent lack of pace for the Anglo-French marque which resulted in a Q1 elimination. He was then promoted to 15th after the application of Tsunoda’s grid penalty.

It looked to be a pretty anonymous weekend for Ocon at first when he lost three places on the opening lap following the decision to start on the Hard tyre.

The timing of the red flag afforded a free pit stop and brought Ocon right back into contention as he passed team-mate Pierre Gasly and Nico Hulkenberg on his way to the final point.

Pierre Gasly – 6

Qualified: P11, Race: P11

It just seemed to be one of those weekends for Gasly, who was unfortunate to lose out on points given he had been the faster Alpine over the course of the weekend.

He ran in the top 10 early on, but in contrast to Ocon, he was hampered by the timing of the red flag which saw a chance at a small points haul slip away through no fault of his own.

Nico Hulkenberg – 6.5

Qualified: P12, Race: P13

Hulkenberg was surprised to have dragged the Haas to P12 on the grid, but the natural order seemed to be restored as soon as the Haas started to devour its tyres.

With plenty of retirements through the field, an unlikely point was lost after attempting to stretch the Medium compound to the end from the red flag.

Kevin Magnussen – 5

Qualified: P17, Race: DNF

Magnussen lagged behind Hulkenberg in qualifying again, but he had sat out FP1 for Ferrari junior Oliver Bearman and lost on FP3 running due to a wheel issue.

A rear suspension failure caused by overheating brakes triggered a red flag at the halfway stage after he found the walls in a high-speed off in the second sector.

His VF-23 was destroyed, but Magnussen clambered out unhurt and under his own power. Moments before, he had fallen to 17th behind Sargeant.

Kevin Magnussen (DEN) Haas VF-23 crashed out of the race.
29.10.2023. Formula 1 World Championship, Rd 20, Mexican Grand Prix, Mexico City, Mexico, Race Day.
–, EMail: © Copyright: Coates / XPB Images

Guanyu Zhou – 4.5

Qualified: P10, Race: P14

Alfa Romeo sprung a surprise in qualifying with both cars advancing to the Q3 shootout, Zhou helped by the deletion of Albon’s final Q2 lap time due to track limits.

The pace disappeared thereafter creating a frustrating day for Zhou who said his race was destroyed by the red flag. Zhou suffered as a result of a tyre advantage and killed all hopes of progress. That was until a promotion from 15th to 14th by virtue of a time penalty for team-mate Valtteri Bottas.

Valtteri Bottas – 4

Qualified: P9, Race: P15

Bottas was dropped from 14th to 15th as a result of a coming together with Lance Stroll in the stadium section.

The Finn had stopped just before the red flag which dropped him well down the order and he was not able to recover from there despite an impressive qualifying.

Lance Stroll – 6.5

Qualified: P18 (Pitlane start), Race: DNF

Stroll was unable to find grip during qualifying but his race performance showed quite the improvement on recent form, despite the end result.

The Canadian started the race from the pits after reverting back to the pre-Austin package.

He was quick to catch and pass his veteran team-mate, Fernando Alonso, and held P14 until the late nerf from Bottas led to Aston Martin calling time on his day.

Fernando Alonso – 5

Qualified: P13, Race: DNF

It was another disappointing weekend for the two-time champion, who was unable to extract anything of note from his Aston Martin in the race.

P13 in qualifying, he quickly began to slip backwards after picking up damage from debris left behind by Perez’s Lap 1 incident.

The pace difference to Stroll was enough to mean Alonso would let the Canadian by early on. The car was retired shortly after being passed by Sargeant post-red flag.

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