Ferrari Leapfrogs McLaren in the Mexican Grand Prix thanks to Leclerc and Sainz

Mexico was shaping up to be one of the stronger races for Ferrari. The bell was ringing for a success after a string of improving near-podium results. And it’s not only Leclerc who has been on a hot streak, but his team mate Carlos Sainz as well. Ferrari have scored in all but one race this season.

But mistakes cost dear and a podium challenge in Mexico vanished for Charles Leclerc with errors in Q3 of qualifying which relegated Ferrari to the fourth row of the grid. Charles had been brimming with optimism before that mistake but then “mad” at himself tweeted:

“A very frustrating quali. Everything was coming together until the second lap in Q3. Tomorrow is a new day and I’ll give it my all to make it a great one.”

Fastest lap time for Leclerc was 1’16”837, which means he started the race from P8, between the McLaren of Daniel Ricciardo and the Aston Martin of his former teammate Sebastian Vettel. There were still points to go for but not enough to fight for a podium place in the driver’s championship – Red Bull with Verstappen and and Perez and Mercedes with Hamilton and Bottas have a lock on that. So there remained the goal of shutting out Mclaren for a podium place in the Constructor’s Championship. Ferrari went into Mexico lagging just 3.5 points to move up to third. (254 – Mclaren, 250.5 – Ferrari).

In the end Scuderia Ferrari made a good haul of points finishing the Mexican Grand Prix with 18 points, thanks to a 5th place finish for Charles Leclerc and 6th place finish for teammate Carlos Sainz.

Leclerc and Sainz tried to reign in Gasly in the race and they pitted at different times and switched positions at different points during the race, displaying a spirit of cooperation. The end result was not enough to overtake Gasly but sufficient to move Scuderia back into third place in the Constructors’ standings with a gap of 13.5 points, the biggest lead over McLaren so far this season.

Leclerc tweeted and commented: “Fifth and sixth is a solid result to take home from this weekend, as the race turned out a bit different to how we had expected. … My first stint on the Mediums was strong and my pace was very competitive. We stopped relatively early for Hards to try and put pressure on Gasly ahead of us, while Carlos went long to create a tyre delta and try to challenge him towards the end of the race. We swapped positions but unfortunately, neither of us managed to catch him. His pace was quite a surprise today. On my side, I struggled on the Hard tyres on my second stint. … However, as a whole, I think that today was a good day and an example of our team spirit.”

Verstappen versus Hamilton

Verstappen’s Red Bull team were expected to dominate in Mexico. But F1 is full of surprises, particularly as Hamilton and teammate, Valtteri Bottas, took a one-two in qualifying. A reversal from out of nowhere seemed suddenly for the taking for Mercedes.

But from third on the grid Verstappen beat Lewis Hamilton into second place after stunning him by taking the lead at the opening corner. The win meant that he has opened a 19-point lead that leaves Hamilton having a huge challenge to overcome in the title fight. There are only four more races to come.

Verstappen’s Red Bull teammate, Sergio Pérez, finished third, becoming the first Mexican on the podium at his home race.

Well done Charles Leclerc for leapfrogging Ferrari over McLaren, well done Sergio Perez, the home favourite and well done Verstappen for surprising Hamilton.

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