IN PICS: Hamilton wins Mexican GP

Sport360 staff 31/10/2016
Hamilton is ramping up the pressure on Mercedes team-mate Rosberg.

Hamilton, who recorded his second triumph in seven days following his masterclass in the United States, is now 19 points adrift of Rosberg with just two races remaining.

The championship battle remains out of the Briton’s control, however, after Rosberg survived a lunge from Red Bull’s Max Verstappen to cross the line in second place.

Indeed Rosberg will now secure his maiden title if he wins the Brazilian Grand Prix in a fortnight’s time. The German can even afford to finish second and third at the remaining two races to clinch the crown.

Verstappen finished third ahead of Ferrari driver Sebastian Vettel, but the former was given a five-second elapsed penalty for leaving the track at turn one and refusing to give the place to Vettel. The German was subsequently bumped up to third.

Hamilton, 31, revealed earlier this week that he is relishing the challenge of usurping his Mercedes team-mate Rosberg at the top of the championship standings.

And the Briton has been in inspired form from the get-go here, comfortably faster than Rosberg in practice and qualifying before claiming the 51st victory of his career with a dominant display in front of 135,000 fans on Sunday.

Hamilton’s season has been plagued by engine troubles and slow starts but, for the second race in succession, the triple world champion got the perfect getaway to retain the lead on the near 1,000-metre run down to turn one.

But perhaps preoccupied with keeping Rosberg behind, Hamilton locked his front-right tyre and ran on to the grass. He essentially missed out the opening four turns before rejoining the track but, as Rosberg and Verstappen banged wheels behind him – a coming together which was declared a racing incident following an investigation by the stewards – he remained in the lead. Despite being bumped on to the grass, Rosberg retained second ahead of Verstappen.

Esteban Gutierrez, Marcus Ericsson and Pascal Wehrlein then tripped over one another with the latter sustaining significant damage to the front of his Manor. His race was over, and the safety car was deployed with debris scattered across the track.

When the race restarted on lap four, Rosberg failed to threaten Hamilton, and from there the show was all but over. Vettel, on a longer first stint, led for 12 laps but, after he pitted at the end of lap 32, and Hamilton was released back into the lead, it was only a matter of the world champion nursing his Mercedes home, which he did to fine effect.

Hamilton took the chequered flag a distant eight seconds ahead of Rosberg to move alongside four-time world champion Alain Prost, into second on the all-time winners’ list. Only Michael Schumacher has tasted more victories in Formula One’s long history than the man from Stevenage.

For Rosberg, second could yet be enough as he bids to emulate his father Keke, the 1982 world champion, and win the title. In a race of little drama, Verstappen attempted to pass Rosberg on lap 50 after the German came unstuck while lapping Carlos Sainz, but Verstappen failed to make his move stick.

There was controversy late on, too, after Verstappen was stripped of his podium place following a timed penalty which promoted Vettel to third and Daniel Ricciardo to fourth.

Verstappen, who only discovered he had been penalised as he prepared to step on to the podium, was adjudged to have left the track and gained an advantage.

Jenson Button, the 2009 world champion, crossed the line in 12th with British rookie Jolyon Palmer 14th.

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LIVE: Mexican Grand Prix

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Who will win the Mexican GP?

Lewis Hamilton continued his fighting late-season defence of his world title by grabbing pole position ahead of Nico Rosberg in Saturday’s tense qualifying session for the Mexican Grand Prix.

The defending three-time world champion dominated the session and delivered a best lap in one minute and 18.704 seconds, two-tenths of a second clear of championship leader Rosberg who salvaged a front row starting spot with the last lap of the top-ten shootout action.

Max Verstappen looked sure to take second until Rosberg’s final fastest effort and he wound up third for Red Bull ahead of his team-mate Daniel Ricciardo.

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Vettel rues poor Ferrari pace on supersofts

F1i 30/10/2016
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Rosberg feels compatriot Sebastian Vettel has a big season ahead of him.

Vettel’s low-key Q3 effort came after the four-time world champion showed promising pace on the soft compound in Q2, finishing a close third behind Red Bull’s Max Verstappen on the supersoft and Mercedes’ Lewis Hamilton on the same rubber.

“The temperatures were up so it should have been better,” Vettel said of his grid position. “But obviously we struggled on the supersoft compared to the soft compound already this morning [in FP3] and also this afternoon.

“Obviously we felt very good on the soft tyre and we didn’t get the benefit on the supersoft. We saw some of that this morning and we tried a couple of things and we couldn’t really improve. Obviously [the supersoft] was the faster tyre for qualifying, but not for us.”

“I think the fact that we go faster on the soft that super-soft means we found more grip. I found more grip with the softs than with the supersofts, which is pretty unnatural and something we need to look in to.

Vettel, who will line up behind team-mate Kimi Raikkonen on the grid, is at least able to find solace in the fact that he will start the race on the soft compound, having set his quickest Q2 mark on the yellow-marked tyre.

“It could be interesting. Sunday is completely different – one lap is very different to doing many laps in the race and I think we tried it and it worked for both of us. That’s positive and it should help us in terms of race pace and finding the right strategy, I hope.”

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