Max Verstappen claimed a record-breaking 16th Formula 1 victory of 2023 as he won the Mexico City Grand Prix from third on the grid.

The reigning World Champion snatched the lead at the start and survived a mid-race red flag restart to beat Lewis Hamilton and polesitter Charles Leclerc to top spot.

With the hottest temperatures of the weekend present at the Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez, every driver inside the top 10 opted for the Medium tyre.

Further down, Alex Albon and Esteban Ocon elected for Hards, while Lando Norris, aiming to climb from a lowly 17th on the grid, was the sole runner on the Soft compound.

The daunting 890m blast to Turn 1 in Mexico always provides drama from the outset and this time around Verstappen got the dream launch to slice his way between the Ferraris.

With Verstappen positioning his car to the inside to maintain the high ground, Red Bull team-mate Sergio Perez had utilised the slipstream ahead to draw to the outside.

However, the Mexican cut across Leclerc, who was pinched between the two Red Bulls, resulting in both drivers inheriting damage.

Perez trailed back to the pits at the back of the pack, but Red Bull was forced to retire his car, bringing an abrupt end to his home grand prix. Meanwhile, Leclerc was out running in second ahead of team-mate Sainz; Ferrari instructed him to remain on track as his endplate made its way loose.

Behind the chaos, Daniel Ricciardo retained four ahead of Lewis Hamilton and Nico Hulkenberg, celebrating his 200thgrand prix start, elevated his way up into eighth.

Alfa Romeo had targeted a double points haul after getting both cars through into Q3, but the Italian marque’s hopes were dashed when Valtteri Bottas dropped to 12th.

Hamilton was bidding to recover from a troublesome Saturday but the Briton’s attempts to overtake Ricciardo into Turn 1 on Lap 8 were rebuffed by the Australian.

Three laps later Hamilton made his way through at the same spot, while the other Mercedes of George Russell began to apply pressure onto McLaren’s Oscar Piastri.

Having executed the perfect start to seize the lead, Verstappen was progressively opening up his advantage over Leclerc to the 3s mark, with Sainz a further 2.5s adrift.

(L to R): Max Verstappen (NLD) Red Bull Racing RB19; Charles Leclerc (MON) Ferrari SF-23; and Sergio Perez (MEX) Red Bull Racing RB19 – crash at the start of the race. 29.10.2023. Formula 1 World Championship, Rd 20, Mexican Grand Prix, Mexico City, Mexico, Race Day.

AlphaTauri had committed Tsunoda to an early stop, prompting McLaren to respond by bringing Norris in to discard his starting set of Soft tyres for the Hard compound.

Alonso’s dismal weekend continued as he was instructed to allow team-mate Lance Stroll, who had set off from the pitlane to change car specification – for 15th place.

Zhou Guanyu was beginning to struggle and Albon, running the more durable Hard tyre, slipped up the inside of the Alfa Romeo racer into Turn 4 to move into the top 10.

Despite upholding a comfortable 4.6s lead out front, Verstappen conceded his tyres were marginal and Red Bull pitted him for a new set of Hards at the end of Lap 19.

Leclerc, now the centre of a post-race investigation by the stewards, had pulled 5s clear of Sainz, who was coming under increasing pressure from Hamilton.

Verstappen had emerged down in seventh but made lightwork of displacing Russell’s Mercedes for sixth before also sweeping past the McLaren of Piastri aside on Lap 23.

Next up on the three-time champion’s radar was ex-Red Bull team-mate Ricciardo, who became Verstappen’s next on-track victim two laps later with another Turn 1 move.

He was granted another position when Mercedes pitted Hamilton to try and gain the undercut on Sainz, having failed to get close enough for an overtaking opportunity.

Piastri was the next to change tyres, exiting the pitlane in 10th place, behind the squabbling duo of Bottas and Albon. McLaren team-mate Norris was one place behind after successfully completing a pass on Aston Martin’s Lance Stroll into Turn 1.

Mercedes serviced Russell with a swift 2.6s pitstop but it wasn’t enough to get the one-time race winner ahead of Piastri. Despite being puzzled by the call to drop him back into traffic, both Piastri and Russell easily passed Albon and Bottas, with Norris following them through a few laps later.

Sainz had been informed that he would be going long, but the undercut had proved powerful enough that Verstappen breezed past the Ferrari on ageing rubber on Lap 29.

Ferrari eventually pitted the Spaniard at the end of Lap 31, expectedly dropping behind Hamilton. Leclerc pitted the next lap around and he remained ahead of the Mercedes, albeit with a substantially reduced gap.

Leclerc was now 16.3s behind Verstappen but that was wiped out when Kevin Magnussen crashed out at Turn 9 on Lap 33, prompting the Safety Car’s introduction.

It was suspected that a rear suspension failure on Magnussen’s VF-23 was responsible for his hefty impact with the barrier rather than any sort of driver error.

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.

While Verstappen and Norris took advantage to pit for a second time without losing track position, a red flag was called two laps later to check the barrier, neutralising the race.

The top half of the order at the stoppage stood as follows: Verstappen leading from Leclerc, Hamilton, Sainz, Ricciardo, Piastri, Tsunoda, Hulkenberg and Norris.

Additionally, the red flag period provided Ferrari with the opportunity to replace Leclerc’s damaged front wing, restoring his car to full working order ahead of the restart.

Mercedes decided to plump for the Medium tyre with both cars, as well as Piastri, Norris and Albon. Verstappen, Leclerc and Sainz remained on the Hard compound.

The race would get going again with a standing restart on Lap 36 that Verstappen nailed once more to lead Leclerc and Hamilton in formation order down to Turn 1.

As the leading quartet remained unchanged, Russell made use of the grippier Medium rubber to beat Ricciardo to fifth. Norris, however, endured a nightmare getaway to drop four places down to 14th place.

Hamilton had stalked Leclerc since the race resumed and used the aid of DRS to power past the Ferrari into Turn 1 on Lap 40.

Norris’ comeback through the field witnessed him swiftly overtake both Alpine drivers with relative ease before also taking Hulkenberg’s Haas to move back into 10th.

McLaren team-mate Piastri duelled with Tsunoda through the opening sequence of the corners and remained ahead despite the pair touching tyre face to sidepod.

However, contact into Turn 1 ensued on the very next lap when the AlphaTauri driver attempted to swing around the outside, sending him spiralling out of the points.

Piastri retained seventh, now one position ahead of Norris, who had overtaken Albon to progress into eighth. The Briton began to rapidly close on the sister McLaren car.

Whilst all that was unfolding, Alonso’s miserable weekend outing was brought to an end when he retired his Aston Martin.

Out front, meanwhile, Verstappen was cruising along 11s ahead of Hamilton, who was attempting to nurse his Medium tyres to protect second from Leclerc 5s further back.

McLaren told Piastri that he would have to increase his pace to remain ahead of Norris, but the switch was made only one lap later to allow the latter to pursue Ricciardo.

Norris quickly sized up the AlphaTauri and completed an opportunistic move around the outside of his ex-team-mate into Turn 4 on Lap 60 before also catching Russell.

Although his countryman covered off the move into Turn 4, Norris executed a sweet switchback manoeuvre to gain the inside line into the tight right-hander of Turn 6.

Ocon had warned Haas over team radio that he was coming for the final points position and he eventually navigated his way past Hulkenberg along with team-mate Gasly.

Aston Martin’s weekend ended with a double DNF as Lance Stroll was pitched into a spin in the stadium section by Bottas to become the fourth and final retirement of the race.

He may have been pipped to pole, but Verstappen was exemplary on race day to triumph in Mexico for the fifth time in F1.

Hamilton avenged his lost podium from last weekend to follow the Red Bull ace home a considerable 13.8s back, ahead of Leclerc, who took his fourth podium of the year.

Sainz completed a lonely afternoon to come home fourth, while Norris mounted an impressive comeback drive to salvage fifth.

Russell narrowly held off Ricciardo, who secured his first points since returning to the sport earlier this year with seventh place to beat Piastri. More pertinently, his eight-point haul elevated AlphaTauri above both Haas and Alfa Romeo into eighth place in the Constructors’ Championship.

Albon collected his second consecutive points score, as Ocon beat Gasly home in the first of the Alpines to round out the top 10.

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