Lewis Hamilton produced a brilliant drive to finish second to Max Verstappen in Mexico City; George Russell was hampered by a brake issue as he came sixth; watch every session from the final Sprint event this year in Sao Paulo -starting this Friday live on Sky Sports F1,
Last Updated: 30/10/23 1:52am
Lewis Hamilton hailed taking an “amazing” second place in the Mexico City Grand Prix after coming from sixth on the grid to finish behind Max Verstappen.
Hamilton was left disappointed on Saturday as Mercedes struggled to get their tyres into the optimal working window in qualifying, but found a more satisfactory balance in the W14 in the race.
The result reignited Hamilton’s hopes of denying Red Bull a first ever one-two in the drivers’ championship, with his deficit to second placed Sergio Perez reduced to 20 points after the Mexican retired from his home race.
“Honestly, I just wasn’t expecting that. It’s just always a great feeling when you are just putting one foot in front of the other and progressing,” Hamilton told Sky Sports F1.
“The weekend had been really difficult compared to the last race where we had just hit the ground running. This weekend I was really digging deep to try and get the set-up right and I think we did a great job.
“Qualifying was a bit tricky and to be far behind the Ferraris, we need to finish ahead of them to keep the constructors’ [position] so that’s what I was pushing for today.
“To have progressed so well through the early phase of the race and be challenging for a podium and then a second place is amazing. I am really happy with the race.”
Hamilton gained a spot at the start when Perez was forced to retire after colliding with Charles Leclerc.
He overtook Daniel Ricciardo for fourth after 10 laps but got stuck behind Carlos Sainz, who had just enough pace to keep the Mercedes driver at bay.
Hamilton undercut Sainz, so was in third place when the race was stopped by a red flag after Kevin Magnussen’s big crash at Turn 8 at the halfway point of the Grand Prix.
Mercedes bravely put Hamilton on medium tyres for the restart, whereas the other leading runners were on hards. It paid off though as the seven-time world champion made a daring move on the inside of Leclerc, briefly putting two wheels off the track to get past the Ferrari driver and take second place.
Expanding on where the W14 had improved from Saturday, Hamilton added: “I think the car is just quite peaky in qualifying on light fuel, but when you put a load of fuel in the car, it just feels nicer to drive and I think we struck a really nice set-up this weekend and particularly today for the race.
“Other than that, just really good tyre management. I generally enjoyed it. It’s not the most physical of races, being that you can’t push all the way, you’re saving, you’re doing 200 or 300 metres of lifting and coast to keep the car cool and stop it from failing.”
Wolff: Brilliant drive from Hamilton
It was the second successive event where Hamilton has shown strong pace, after he pushed Verstappen close for the win in Austin, only to be disqualified for excessive plank wear.
Mercedes team principal Toto Wolff was impressed by Hamilton’s performance, especially on the medium tyres in the second half of the race as the 38-year-old set the fastest lap of the race on his final circuit.
“The smile on our face is because the car was strong. Once Lewis was in free air, we had so much margin in the medium. The lap times were good and fastest lap at the end,” Wolff told Sky Sports F1.
“It’s been a few weekends now where we say we ‘could have’ but didn’t. I think we need to qualify better. Probably with the straight line speed we wouldn’t have been so competitive against Max, but who knows, the pace is there.
“It was a brilliant, brilliant drive from Lewis. We have these oscillations in performance and we don’t really know sometimes if the tyres stick. Just a few degrees of track temperature and you are out of the window.”
Russell explains ‘terrible’ end to race
George Russell, in the other Mercedes, had a frustrating race as he found himself on the back foot when stuck behind Oscar Piastri in the opening stages stint.
Russell wasn’t happy about the timing of his first pit stop as he came out in traffic and was seventh when the race resumed following the red flag.
He overtook Piastri and Ricciardo but couldn’t find a way past Sainz, who defended well to hold onto fourth place.
During this battle, Russell overheated his brakes and lost a position to a charging Lando Norris and only finished half a second ahead of Ricciardo at the chequered flag to take sixth.
“The last 20 laps were terrible,” Russell said.
“The pace was really strong after the red flag. I felt really good in the car, I was right behind Carlos and just couldn’t quite make the overtake, then my brakes overheated and we were concerned we wouldn’t make it at the end and I had to back of.
“As soon as I did that, I lost all the temperature in my tyres and I could never recover it and it was like driving on ice.
“I was lucky to finish in P6. Story of the weekend – another difficult one and it’s a shame because the car was performing well.”
F1 heads straight to Brazil for the final leg of the Americas triple header and the last Sprint weekend of the 2023 season. Watch every session from the Sao Paulo Grand Prix live on Sky Sports F1 from Friday, with Sunday’s race at 5pm. Stream F1 on Sky Sports with NOW