Max Verstappen broke his own record for the most wins in a single Formula One season with his 16th victory of 2023 at the Mexico City Grand Prix. Oracle Red Bull Racing's reigning world champion made a brilliant start from third and cruised home from there. Team-mate Sergio Pérez was the race's first retirement, the home hero coming off second-best in a clash with Charles Leclerc (Ferrari) at the first corner on Lap 1.
* 2023 is the 74th season of the F1 world championship
2. The Mexico City GP in six pics
3. Max ties a great, Checo's home heartbreak
Given his previous record in Mexico – he'd won there four times previously – few were surprised when Verstappen was the man to beat throughout all three practice sessions; what was more of a shock was the pace of the Ferraris in qualifying. Verstappen was booted down to third on the grid by Leclerc and Carlos Sainz in a top three that was separated by just 0.097s.
The Dutchman didn't take long to right that wrong on Sunday, scything between the Ferrari duo to lead into the first corner and controlling the race from there. A Lap 34 red flag period caused by a heavy crash by Kevin Magnussen (Haas) at Turn 9 that necessitated repairs to the trackside barriers, paused proceedings and nullified his lead. However, Verstappen pushed clear quickly after the 20-minute delay to win by 13.875s from Lewis Hamilton (Mercedes), with Leclerc rounding out the rostrum.
Verstappen's 51st victory in his 182nd start saw him draw level with four-time world champion Alain Prost for fourth on the all-time win list; only Hamilton (103), Michael Schumacher (91) and Sebastian Vettel (53) are now ahead of him.
The race-day portion of the weekend crowd of 400,639 groaned in unison when Pérez was the race's first retirement after a matter of seconds.
The longest run from the start to the first corner of the season (811 meters) is regularly a magnet for mayhem and the Mexican came off second-best when he was positioned on the outside of Leclerc, who was pincered between Pérez and Verstappen.
Pérez’s car was spat into the air, its right-side bodywork punctured by the Ferrari’s front wing, and Pérez limped back to the pits in an attempt to get repaired in order to rejoin the race. The damage was too much however and his run of consecutive third-place finishes at home came to a sudden, heartbreaking end.
“I had a tremendous start, the gap was there,” an emotional Pérez said. "I just went for it. I think simply there was no room for three cars, it was a racing incident. In hindsight I should back off, I just wanted to give it all. I'm very sad with the end result.”
4. Ricciardo lifts AlphaTauri from the basement
Daniel Ricciardo admitted to some rust when he returned at last weekend's United States Grand Prix after missing five races with a broken hand. The Australian shook that off superbly with a brilliant seventh place for Scuderia AlphaTauri on Sunday, lifting the team from last place in the Constructors' Standings to eighth, passing Haas and Alfa Romeo on one magical afternoon.
It was the Ricciardo of yesteryear in Mexico, site of one of his three career pole positions (for Red Bull Racing in 2018). The 34-year-old qualified fourth, next to Verstappen, and was never out of the top 10 in a race where he had to repel drivers in faster cars behind him, finishing just half a second behind George Russell (Mercedes) after 71 laps.
It was so nearly a double-points finish for AlphaTauri in Mexico, with Yuki Tsunoda missing out after a Lap 49 tangle with Oscar Piastri when they were fighting inside the top 10. Tsunoda, who had started from the very back after using engine components outside of his allocation for the season, spun at Turn 1 as he made contact with the McLaren driver and recovered to finish 12th at the checkered flag.
5. The number you need to know
5: Verstappen’s fifth victory in Mexico makes the Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez his most successful circuit, surpassing his four wins at the Red Bull Ring in Austria.
Japanese game shows are must-see TV, but what about a Japanese game show with four F1 drivers and two specially-liveried Kei trucks to complete a series of tasks and challenges against the clock and each other?
If you think that sounds like chaos, you’d be right – check out this episode of the (Un)Serious Race Series below with Verstappen, Pérez, Tsunoda and Liam Lawson, which might be our best yet (we’re biased, but still).
F1 drivers vs Japanese show
Drivers from each team will work together through a series of three challenges to win points for their team.
9. Where to next and what do I need to know?
Round 20 (Brazil), November 3-5
Circuit name/location: Autodromo Jose Carlos Pace, Interlagos
Length/laps: 4.309km, 71 laps
Grands Prix held/debut: 39, 1973
Most successful driver: Michael Schumacher (four wins)
Most successful team: Ferrari (nine wins)
2022 podium: 1st: George Russell (Mercedes), 2nd: Lewis Hamilton (Mercedes), 3rd: Carlos Sainz (Ferrari)
10. Inside the wide world of Red Bull Motorsports
Brad Binder has made the leap in 2023. The famously relaxed South African has been one of MotoGP™'s brightest stars for years now – he won his third-ever premier-class race in the Czech Republic in 2020, after all – but this year, the 28-year-old has become a frontline force, doing his best to hang with the horde of dominant Ducatis on his Red Bull KTM machine.
Tag along with number 33 (the numbers are stylized to match his initials, ‘BB’) at the San Marino GP earlier this year, where he talks family, making it to the big time from his home town of Potchefstroom and how his fire to win burns even brighter now he’s edging towards the top of the two-wheel tree.