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Opinion: The Very Promising But Underwhelming Mexican Grand Prix

There were a lot of possibilities, but ultimately, things turned out the way it was expected....

The Mexican Grand Prix promised a lot, and it almost delivered. We could’ve seen Ferrari fighting for the win, but as expected, their 1-2 start was a qualifying mini-miracle. We could’ve seen Red Bull secure their first 1-2 finish in the Drivers’ Championship, something they’ve never achieved, but Perez bottled it going around the outside into Turn 1.

What we did see was Daniel Ricciardo in fine form after what feels like an eternity, Max Verstappen taking home a record 16 wins in one season, and maybe Lando Norris’ finest performance in Formula 1.

A Solid, But Unimpressive Ferrari

While that all sounds exciting, it wasn’t the most engaging race to watch. Ferrari couldn’t even hold off Verstappen for one corner, let alone one lap. Perhaps it was too much to ask for a repeat of Singapore, but more of a fight was at least expected. Instead, they did all they could and secured a podium and solid points in their fight with Mercedes for second in the Constructors’.

Mercedes’ Becoming a One-Sided Affair

Speaking of Mercedes, Lewis Hamilton had a great race getting ahead of both Ferraris to secure P2, but his teammate, George Russell, underperformed. Actually, Russell has been underperforming since his final lap incident in Singapore and it was very clear in Mexico that he wasn’t on the level with Hamilton. Where Hamilton was able to breeze past the Ferraris, Russell couldn’t get past Carlos Sainz in P4.

Russell complained on the radio about Sainz weaving on the straight and under braking, but once again we can observe Sainz’s sneaky moves from Monza that held up Verstappen for so long. He didn’t get penalised for those moves in Italy, and he didn’t get penalised in Mexico.

Daniel Ricciardo Shows He’s Still Got it?

Daniel Ricciardo was one to watch this weekend after an “outstanding” qualifying performance, according to Christian Horner. We’ve seen it time and time again when a car you don’t expect to be quick manages some magic in qualifying before disappearing in the race. Not so with Ricciardo who managed to grab AlphaTauri’s highest points finish this season with P7. Without the red flag and subsequent standing start, Ricciardo may have finished slightly higher, but alas, it was not meant to be.

The last three years have felt like Ricciardo had nothing but excuses for his performance, and when he lacked that, he was at a loss. His years at McLaren are best kept behind him, but they can’t help but inform us where Ricciardo is now at this point in his career. He didn’t do much when he joined AlphaTauri, but the car lacked pace before their upgrades so what was he to really do? Then he broke his hand in Zandvoort, so yet another (in this case, fair) excuse for his lack of pace. In Austin last week, he admitted his time off had left him “rusty” but said that he knew that wouldn’t be an excuse going forward. True to his word, he made no excuses and was as quick as he could be in Mexico. Let’s just hope this isn’t a one-off like his win at Monza in 2021.

Lando Norris’ Finest Hour

What’s to be said about Lando Norris except well done. He was handed every disadvantage whether it was his team’s poor choices in qualifying or an ill-timed safety car during the race, it wasn’t easy for Norris to climb from P17 to P5. He looked like a man possessed, even leaving his teammate, Oscar Piastri, in the dust as if they weren’t in the same car. It was nothing short of impressive and no doubt he has asserted his leading position on the team.

Aston Martin’s Headscratcher

Elsewhere on the grid, Aston Martin have fallen off a cliff with even the very adaptable Fernando Alonso struggling with car. The team ran one car (Lance Stroll’s) with the old aero package, while Alonso ran the new and this just highlights that Aston Martin don’t know which direction they’re going with the car or what’s causing their problems. Each upgrade they’ve brought seems to have made them slower. Whether this is due to a flawed car philosophy or a developmental wall, we don’t know, but it isn’t good news for Aston Martin either way.

Haas Back to the Back

Neither is it good news for Haas whose major upgrade package has given them slightly better tyre wear, but that’s about it. After the Mexican Grand Prix, they’ve dropped to last in the Constructors’ with 12 points, four points behind Alfa Romeo and AlphaTauri. It’s clear that their cost-saving approach to running a Formula 1 team isn’t working out. I don’t know what Guenther Steiner has to do to get more money out of eponymous team owner, Gene Haas, but it is sorely needed if they ever want to fight for consistent points, let alone win a race.

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