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Race highlights - Mexico 2017 // First lap collision creates tense championship drama

Published by Christine Blachford

Race highlights - Mexico 2017
Credit: Clive Rose/Getty

It felt like the 2017 title was easily going to be Hamilton's this weekend, but first and second corner drama at the start of the race meant we were in for an intriguing battle.

The crowd were cheering loudly as their home favourite did well, but equally they loved seeing a great fight by some top quality drivers.

Lap by lap coverage of the race follows, from the opening moments with drivers jostling for position into the tight first corner, to the closing scenes were all eyes were not on the winner crossing the finish line but firmly behind him.

As it happened: Mexico 2017 - The race

Event Highlights

  • Verstappen wins after Hamilton and Vettel collide on the first lap, dropping to the rear of the field.
  • Vettel fights back to fourth but needed second to stop Hamilton winning.
  • Lewis finishes ninth but secures fourth world championship.
  • Daniel Ricciardo retires with engine problems in his Red Bull.
  • Three other Renault engines also retire for Hartley, Hülkenberg and Sainz.
  • Ericsson retired with a significant fire on his Sauber.
  • 18:30

    Hello there, welcome to the Factbyte Factbox for the Mexican Grand Prix, the race that could be the title deciding event for the 2017 season.

  • 18:31
    Circuit Data
    Autódromo Hermanos Rodríguez
    Local timezone-05:00 GMT
    First race1986
    Number of laps71
    Circuit length4.304km
    Race distance305.354km
    Start offset0.230km
  • 18:32

    With half an hour until the race gets underway, the pit lane has opened, engines are roaring and cars are starting to make their way to the grid.

  • 18:32
    Soft
    Supersoft
    Ultrasoft

    Pirelli have brought the ultrasoft to Mexico for the first time, and drivers are favouring that tyre as the quickest across the track's smooth surface. Degradation isn't expected to be a big issue here.

  • 18:32

    In fact, the biggest issue is the high altitude and therefore low air pressure, which has been affecting components here and there. Toro Rosso have had a particularly tricky time of it with regards to engines. They, and McLaren, are propping up the last two rows of the grid.

  • 18:33

    Some last minute engine penalties have affected the grid today, with Daniel Ricciardo dropping out of the top ten. Sebastian Vettel starts on pole, though, having denied Max Verstappen his first ever F1 pole position by just 0.086 seconds.

  • 18:33
    Starting grid
    1S VettelFerrari
    2M VerstappenRed Bull
    3L HamiltonMercedes
    4V BottasMercedes
    5K RäikkönenFerrari
    6E OconForce India
    7N HülkenbergRenault
    8C SainzRenault
    9S PérezForce India
    10F MassaWilliams
  • 18:33

    TweetTweet from @lukehmuse: "Not sure what it says about the state of the penalties in F1 that the final grid order has been announced less than an hour before the race"

  • 18:37

    The final official grid is usually published about this time before a race, one hour or so, but it's unusual to have such late changes that make such a big impact to the top ten.

  • 18:38

    Turn one is the heaviest braking part of the circuit, following a long straight. Going into the first corner at the start of the race is going to be fascinating, as it usually is!

    Braking Analysis
    Turn 1
    (forecast data from Brembo)
    Initial speed354km/h
    Final speed107km/h
    Stopping distance70m
    Braking time2.85s
    Maximum deceleration4.2g
    Maximum pedal load113kg
    Braking power2,340kw
  • 18:41

    TweetTweet from @ForceIndiaF1: CHECO! CHECO! CHECO!

    We think the crowd’s favourite has reached the grid!

  • 18:41
    Lap Data
    (data from Mercedes AMG)
    Fuel consumptionLow
    Full throttle54%
    Top speed349kph
    Gear changes per lap52
    Pit lane loss16.9s
    Pit lane length377m
  • 18:41

    Lewis Hamilton has a commanding lead in the championship now. He could have won last weekend in America, but Vettel's second place finish allowed him to continue the fight to this weekend. The odds are very much against him though, as Hamilton needs only to finish in the top five and secures the title, no matter what Vettel does.

  • 18:50
    Alonso arrives on the grid
    Credit: @mclarenf1

    Fernando Alonso sits comfortably at the back of the grid, an irritatingly familiar position for the McLaren team.

  • 18:52

    Weather icon

    22°C
    Track42°C
    Humidity33%
    Wind speed1.6mps
  • 18:53

    TweetTweet from @karunchandhok: A very smokey fire up for @carlosainz's car on the grid!

  • 18:54

    TweetTweet from @tombowker: Title permutations…

    VET P1 – HAM must be P5 or higher

    VET P2 – HAM must be P9 or higher

    VET P3 or lower – HAM wins regardless

  • 18:55

    Hamilton radio complains of the seat being really hot on his back, "you need to make sure you cool it next time," he says.

  • 18:56

    Race controlRisk of rain for this session is 0%.

  • 18:57

    Almost all the grid are starting on ultrasoft tyres. Just Grosjean in 15th and Alonso in 18th have the soft tyres on.

  • 19:00

    The grid starts to clear for the formation lap, mechanics taking sidesteps to move to the verges.

  • 19:01

    Formation lap begins, Vettel speeds off for a surprisingly quick pre-race lap.

  • 19:03

    Through the stadium, crowds cheering, and then round the final corner as Vettel slows the pace and crawls to his front row grid slot. Verstappen pulls in alongside him.

  • 19:04

    Green flagRace started.

  • 19:04 Lap 1

    Vettel gets a good start, then it's three wide as Verstappen and Hamilton pull alongside into turn one.

  • 19:04 Lap 1

    Verstappen moves up into the lead, as Hamilton and Vettel bang wheels.

  • 19:04 Lap 1

    Hamilton is going backwards... he's got a puncture!

  • 19:05 Lap 1

    Bottas has moved up to second, as Hamilton drops back and then dives into the pit lane.

  • 19:05 Lap 1

    Vettel has also come into the pits, he must have had damage as well.

  • 19:06 Lap 2

    Front wing change for Vettel. Both he and Lewis put on the soft tyres, yellow stripes.

  • 19:07 Lap 3

    TweetTweet from @becclancy: "Vettel out in eighth. He has to finish 2nd and Ham out of points to keep his title alive.So still Ham's title - at the moment."

  • 19:07 Lap 3

    Ocon is up into third, with Hülkenberg behind him. Pérez surged up four places to sit fifth.

  • 19:07 Lap 3

    Carlos Sainz has come in super early, changed to the yellow softs and is on his way once again.

  • 19:07 Lap 3

    Verstappen has stretched a 2 second lead already.

  • 19:08 Lap 4

    Sainz has rejoined the race between Vettel and Hamilton, all three at the rear of the field.

  • 19:08 Lap 4

    Felipe Massa has also taken the early switch-to-yellows strategy, and he's running ahead of Vettel now.

  • 19:09 Lap 4

    Race controlDRS enabled.

  • 19:11 Lap 5

    Replays show Vettel and Verstappen made slight contact in the first corner, then Hamilton and Vettel clouted in the next.

  • 19:11 Lap 6

    "Simply, simply lovely," Verstappen said over the radio as he elbowed his way into the lead.

  • 19:11 Lap 6

    TweetTweet from @ForceIndaiF1: Esteban has opened a 1.6s gap on the Hulk - enough to shake him off from DRS range.

  • 19:12 Lap 6

    Ricciardo has come into the pitman, and he's stopped in the box looking like he's going nowhere fast.

  • 19:12 Lap 7

    The Renault engine is not dealing well with the altitude at all this weekend.

  • 19:14 Lap 8

    Massa and Vettel have dispatched Pascal Wherlein, and there are two Toro Rosso next in line for their progression.

  • 19:14 Lap 8

    Ted News: Both Sainz and Massa had punctures, which is why they've had to change their strategies.

  • 19:15 Lap 9

    Race controlLap 1, turn 2 and 3 incidents involving Sebastian Vettel, Max Verstappen and Lewis Hamilton noted.

  • 19:15 Lap 9

    Vandoorne is chasing down Ericsson, and is informed over the radio that the Sauber driver is suffering from temperature issues.

  • 19:16 Lap 10
    Driver Positions
    PosDriverStops
    11M Verstappen0
    22V Bottas0
    33E Ocon0
    43N Hülkenberg0
    54S Pérez0
    6-1K Räikkönen0
    74L Stroll0
    86K Magnussen0
    93M Ericsson0
    109S Vandoorne0
  • 19:17 Lap 11

    Sebastian Vettel closes in on the Williams of Massa, but runs out of road before he has a chance. Down the next DRS straight, he pulls out wide and still can't make a move.

  • 19:18 Lap 11

    Kimi Räikkönen is also looking for a way past the car in front - this time the Mexican driver Sergio Pérez.

  • 19:18 Lap 11

    Replays show Grosjean and Alonso came together, with Haas now concerned about front wing damage.

  • 19:18 Lap 11

    Race controlLap 1, turns 2 and 3 incident involving Sebastian Vettel, Max Verstappen and Lewis Hamilton - no investigation necessary.

  • 19:19 Lap 12

    Race controlTurn 14 incident involving Romain Grosjean under investigation - leaving the track and gaining an advantage.

  • 19:20 Lap 13

    This time, Vettel pulls alongside Massa again, but runs wide off track as he tries the overtake. He does get the position, but that might be another the stewards take a look at.

  • 19:23 Lap 14
    Gap Analysis
    PosDriverGap
    1stVER1:21.038
    2ndBOT+5.447
    3rdOCO+18.115
    4thHUL+21.466
    5thPER+23.572
  • 19:23 Lap 15

    Race control5 second time penalty for Romain Grosjean - leaving the track and gaining an advantage.

  • 19:23 Lap 15

    Marcus Ericsson is doing a great job up in ninth, but is leading a train of two McLarens behind him.

  • 19:26 Lap 16

    Vettel passes Gasly to move up to 14th place. Grosjean is next on his hit list.

  • 19:27 Lap 18

    On the radio, Gasly is instructed to stay close to Vettel in order to increase his chances of overtaking Grosjean as well - but he's being left for dust behind the Ferrari.

  • 19:28 Lap 19

    Race controlTurn 1 incident involving Romain Grosjean and Fernando Alonso noted - no investigation necessary.

  • 19:29 Lap 19

    Stoffel Vandoorne is instructed to stand aside for teammate Fernando Alonso, and the Spanish driver sweeps through to tenth place.

  • 19:29 Lap 19

    Sergio Pérez comes in to the pit lane for his probably one stop of the afternoon, soft tyres going on the Force India. He rejoins in eighth place.

  • 19:30 Lap 20

    Team radioLewis Hamilton is complaining that he's not making progress through the field. "Just to get past these guys is difficult."

  • 19:30 Lap 20

    Hülkenberg also pits, rejoining ahead of the Force India of Pérez, seventh place.

  • 19:31 Lap 21

    Team radioTeam radio from Max Verstappen: "So on the braking, left front is giving up a bit."

  • 19:32 Lap 21

    Esteban Ocon comes in for his one pit stop, yellow tyres going on the leading Force India. He rejoins in fifth place.

  • 19:33 Lap 22

    Blue flagWaved blue flag for Car 44 Lewis Hamilton timed at 13:31:30.

  • 19:33 Lap 22

    Hamilton hasn't seen a blue flag since 2013!

  • 19:33 Lap 22

    "It's crazy I'm fighting for this position," Hamilton says.

  • 19:34 Lap 23

    Replays show Sebastian Vettel making a move on Brendon Hartley, so he's up to 12th now, and has McLarens in his path.

  • 19:35 Lap 24

    TweetTweet from @pirellisport: Unfortunately for @LewisHamilton and #Seb5 it’s a clear one-stopper here so not much extra can be done on strategy to boost their prospects.

  • 19:36 Lap 24

    Ted News: No obvious damage to Hamilton's car on the telemetry, according to the team.

  • 19:37 Lap 25

    Valtteri Bottas makes his way past Hamilton, lapping his teammate for the first time ever.

  • 19:38 Lap 26

    Yellow flagNico Hülkenberg has pulled off track, the German driver retiring from another race. That's four out of the last five races that have ended in DNF.

  • 19:39 Lap 27

    Team radioTeam radio to Nico Hülkenberg: "Stop the car, Nico. The car is not safe. You need to get out by climbing on to the front and jumping off."

    That's an ERS issue there then.

  • 19:40 Lap 27

    That retirement promotes Vettel into the top ten. He has passed Vandoorne and now has Alonso ahead of him.

  • 19:41 Lap 28

    Lewis Hamilton has, AT LAST, managed to get past Carlos Sainz, so is no longer running last.

  • 19:42 Lap 29

    Mercedes radio suggests they might consider a second pit stop for Hamilton if his tyres wear out too quickly.

  • 19:43 Lap 30

    It's Pascal Wehrlein who now has his mirrors full of the Mercedes of Lewis Hamilton.

  • 19:43 Lap 30

    Marcus Ericsson has pitted, which drops him out of the points. Vettel up to ninth but still chasing Alonso.

  • 19:44 Lap 30

    Hamilton dispatches Wehrlein, and now has four seconds to close to the other Sauber of Ericsson.

  • 19:44 Lap 31

    Sergio Pérez dives to the inside of Kevin Magnussen to move up into sixth place, and the roar of the crowd is absolutely incredible.

  • 19:45 Lap 31

    Vettel makes good use of DRS to sweep past Alonso, he's up into eighth place now. Kevin Magnussen next, but a good nine seconds to close before then.

  • 19:47 Lap 32

    Pierre Gasly makes a tasty move on Romain Grosjean, who takes a look but can't do anything. He loses momentum and Felipe Massa also moves past the Haas.

  • 19:47 Lap 32

    Yellow flagYellow flags, as ahead of that battle, smoke flutters across the track. Brendon Hartley pulls off with yet another Renault engine failure.

  • 19:47 Lap 33

    Yellow flagVirtual Safety Car. And so, the pit lane gets very busy.

  • 19:48 Lap 33

    Everyone that hadn't pitted has now come in, whilst some have opted to come in for a second stop, including Lewis Hamilton, Carlos Sainz, and Sebastian Vettel.

  • 19:49 Lap 33

    Vettel, Alonso, and Sainz are on the ultrasofts now. Hamilton has bolted on the red supersofts.

  • 19:49 Lap 34

    Green flagVirtual safety car ending. Track is clear.

  • 19:50 Lap 34

    TweetTweet from @tororossospy: And just as we were going to celebrate @PierreGASLY's great overtake on MAG, @BrendonHartley is asked to stop the car... what a shame

  • 19:51 Lap 35

    Lance Stroll is running a blinding strategy at the moment. He hadn't stopped and took full advantage of the stop under the VSC. He's up in fifth place, with fresh tyres on.

  • 19:51 Lap 35

    Vettel is in eighth, and trading fastest laps with those out front.

  • 19:54 Lap 37
    Driver Positions
    PosDriverStops
    11M Verstappen1
    22V Bottas1
    32K Räikkönen1
    42E Ocon1
    56L Stroll1
    63S Pérez1
    77K Magnussen1
    8-7S Vettel2
    99F Alonso1
    100F Massa1
  • 19:55 Lap 38

    Sebastian Vettel easily makes his way past Kevin Magnussen, so that's seventh for the Ferrari now.

  • 19:55 Lap 38

    Meanwhile, out front, Verstappen is setting the fastest lap - a track record - and holding a comfortable ten second lead over Bottas.

  • 19:57 Lap 39

    TweetTweet from @JennieGow: So Mercedes think Vettel can go to the end of the race on the ULTRA’s - HAM only had used ULTRA’s so they put him on the SUPER SOFTS.

  • 19:59 Lap 40

    All three tyres are in use at this point in the race. Three drivers on ultrasofts, seven on supersofts, and seven on softs.

  • 20:01 Lap 42

    TweetTweet from @ForceIndiaF1: Esteban goes green, Checo goes green - our duo are still fighting hard out there!

  • 20:03 Lap 44

    A lot of drivers here, but just to show the job Vettel has on his hands.

    Gap Analysis
    PosDriverGap
    1stVER1:20.715
    2ndBOT+13.534
    3rdRAI+36.394
    4thOCO+50.972
    5thSTR+57.118
    6thPER+60.856
    7thVET+68.449
  • 20:04 Lap 44

    TweetTweet from @ChrisMedlandF1: We think we've worked out EIGHT Renault PU problems so far this weekend across six cars. Verstappen can't be sitting comfortably

  • 20:05 Lap 45

    Hamilton is eyeing up the Sauber of Marcus Ericsson, he's not being aggressive out there today, despite the fact that the championship isn't really in his hands at all.

  • 20:06 Lap 46

    TweetTweet from @LukeSmithF1: Bet Hamilton always dreamed of winning his fourth world title after a wheel to wheel fight with Marcus Ericsson.

  • 20:06 Lap 46

    Vettel is the last driver on the lead lap at the moment. Everyone from eighth down has been lapped.

  • 20:06 Lap 46

    Hamilton finally makes it past Ericsson, moving in to 12th place.

  • 20:08 Lap 47

    Team radioTeam radio to Lewis Hamilton: "We are forecast for P8, if you can keep up this pace."

  • 20:10 Lap 49

    Field spread is starting to hit now. A much calmer section of the race.

  • 20:12 Lap 51

    Vettel has the Force India of Pérez firmly in his sights now... how hard will the Mexican make it for Sebastian?

  • 20:13 Lap 52

    Vettel outbrakes the Force India, clings on for dear life and makes it stick. Impressive work from the German.

  • 20:14 Lap 52

    Having been passed by the Ferrari, Pérez dives into the pit lane and takes on the ultrasoft tyres. He rejoins in the same position, ahead of Kevin Magnussen.

  • 20:14 Lap 52

    Two seconds to catch Lance Stroll and Vettel will have his next victim in his sights.

  • 20:16 Lap 53

    Hamilton slides past Vandoorne to move into 11th place. He's making heavy work of it but Hamilton is making progress through the field.

  • 20:18 Lap 55

    Through the stadium section and Vettel is taking stock of where best to get past the Williams of Stroll. He closes up with the aid of DRS, and easily takes the place - Stroll stays well out of the way of the charging Ferrari.

  • 20:18 Lap 55

    Three seconds up the road, Esteban Ocon is no doubt getting the news that Vettel will be approaching very soon.

  • 20:19 Lap 56

    StopwatchNow just six cars on the lead lap, and Vettel posts the fastest lap of the race so far - 1:19.516.

  • 20:21 Lap 57

    Team radioTeam radio from Lewis Hamilton: "What position do I need?"

    "Vettel is currently P5. He needs P2."

    "Is that possible for him?"

    "Negative. Valtteri now sat in P2, holding that spot."

  • 20:21 Lap 57

    Massa makes his car as wide as possible but can't hold off Hamilton, who moves up to P10 and into the points.

  • 20:22 Lap 58

    Marcus Ericsson crawls into the pit lane, his Sauber on fire. The extinguishers spray as he climbs from the car.

  • 20:22 Lap 59

    Meanwhile, Vettel has easily dispatched Ocon and is up to fourth. Kimi Räikkönen is 23 seconds ahead of him now.

  • 20:25 Lap 60

    Team radioTeam radio to Sebastian Vettel: "Kimi is 23 seconds in front."

    "How many seconds did you say?"

    "23."

    "Oh mamma mia. A little bit too much."

  • 20:27 Lap 61

    Ten laps to go.

  • 20:27 Lap 62

    Carlos Sainz comes into the pit lane to retire, that's four of the Renault powered cars that have retired, and a double DNF for the Renault team.

  • 20:28 Lap 62

    Hamilton is looking for a way past Alonso, but the McLaren keeps him behind for now.

  • 20:28 Lap 63

    TweetTweet from @pirellisport: So we thought this would be a straightforward one-stopper. A big thanks to our championship protagonists for making it more varied!

  • 20:32 Lap 65

    Hamilton can't get close to Alonso, whilst the McLaren is looking ahead to try a move on Magnussen.

  • 20:33 Lap 66

    StopwatchNew lap record for Sebastian Vettel out front - 1:18.892.

  • 20:34 Lap 67

    Alonso isn't making it easy for Hamilton, and the pair dive this way and that. Alonso stays ahead with five laps to go.

  • 20:35 Lap 67

    Alonso says he has no deployment on the straights, his energy recovery isn't doing what he expects it to do.

  • 20:36 Lap 69

    Brake dust kicks out as Alonso makes life increasingly difficult for Hamilton. They are side by side through many corners, eventually the DRS getting the better of the McLaren. Alonso fights back, and he's not letting it go.

  • 20:37 Lap 69

    Hamilton breaks free for now, he's in to ninth place. Vettel making little progress in fourth.

  • 20:39 Lap 71

    TweetTweet from @glenn_autosport: Not sure many top #F1 drivers could retain the level of fight Alonso has after 3 years of dragging round machinery that is beneath him

  • 20:39 Lap 71

    Final lap.

  • 20:40

    Chequered flagMax Verstappen wins the Mexican Grand Prix!

    Lewis Hamilton wins the 2017 World Championship!

  • 20:40

    Bottas second and Räikkönen third. Only four drivers on the lead lap by the time they cross the finish line.

  • 20:42

    Hamilton holds his helmet in his hands as he takes in the feeling of being a four times world champion. In the garage, Toto Wolff and Niki Lauda share a resounding high five.

  • 20:42

    Hamilton and Vettel run side by side on track, Vettel waving congratulations at Lewis as the Mercedes passes by.

  • 20:44

    Hamilton grabs a British flag from a marshal and waves it as he continues his slow tour of the track. Meanwhile, Verstappen climbs from his car and celebrates race victory!

  • 20:45
    Driver Positions
    PosDriverStops
    11M Verstappen1
    22V Bottas1
    32K Räikkönen1
    4-3S Vettel2
    51E Ocon1
    65L Stroll1
    72S Pérez2
    86K Magnussen1
    9-6L Hamilton2
    108F Alonso1
  • 20:45
    Gap Analysis
    PosDriverGap
    1stVER1:20.804
    2ndBOT+19.678
    3rdRAI+54.007
    4thVET+70.078
  • 20:47

    A great race for Verstappen, who finally had a bit of luck when it comes to reliability. Four of the six Renault engines retired from the race, but his held out for the win.

  • 20:48

    A great display by Sebastian Vettel today, but also from others - Fernando Alonso and Felipe Massa both making their cars as wide as possible.

  • 20:48

    Not a traditionally great race, but intriguing from the start. The action tailed off towards the end, but the crowd made up for that, roaring at every opportunity.

  • 20:49

    There are two events left on the calendar, with Brazil and Abu Dhabi now set for the midfield battles to be decided and, of course, for pride.

All content in the series Mexico 2017