The 2021 Mexican GP was such a wholesome race weekend. As usual, the atmosphere from the fans was incredible at the Autódromo Hermanos Rodríguez. But this year, the home fans were on another level because. For the first time in 2 years, the home hero was back. Sergio Perez, also known as Checo, was back in Mexico and he received huge support from the home fans. This time, his entire family was there watching him race. And this time, Checo had a chance to achieve a lot of success at his home Grand Prix, because he was racing in a Red Bull.
It’s clear that Checo didn’t disappoint his home fans by becoming the first Mexican F1 Driver to score a podium in Mexico. He also became the first Mexican to lead the race in their home GP. This race was a historic one for Mexico, and it’s great to see that Checo could share this with his fans. Over the course of the race weekend, over 300,000 fans attended the F1 sessions. Sergio Perez is hugely celebrated in Mexico, and his massive fan base was present at the circuit to witness his success on home soil.
Checo could also celebrate the podium with his family. You could see the joy that Perez’s family felt that day. Sergio’s dad was incredibly happy, as you could see from the celebrations. Sergio Perez Jr., who is Sergio Perez’s son, actually went up to the podium to see his dad celebrate the incredible achievement. The pictures and videos of Perez celebrating with his family at the 2021 Mexican GP were very wholesome.
Red Bull Racing celebrated a crucial victory since Max Verstappen was the victor in Mexico. After a lightning start from P3, Verstappen pulled alongside Hamilton and Bottas, making it 3-wide into T1. After some late-braking heroics, he swooped around the outside to take the lead of the race. Daniel Ricciardo was always known as the last of the late brakers, but I think Verstappen holds that title now.
And that brings us to the real race review; first, we’ll look at the shenanigans that took place on the first lap of the race. There was so much going on, that we’ve made an entire section of the post about it! After that, we’ll take a detailed look into how Red Bull pulled off a double podium and are now only 1 point behind Mercedes in the constructors’ championship. And lastly, we’re going to analyse exactly how 8 different teams scored points in Mexico. I know, that’s insane, right?! I’m sure I’m not the only one who was curious about how that happened.
Loco Lap 1
In Formula 1, the race start is always chaotic, with a completely clean race start being fairly rare. 20 F1 cars are bunched up and they’re all heading into Turn 1 at the same time. Something’s bound to happen, which is why many F1 fans say the race start is the best part of the race. On top of that, the first 3 turns at this circuit make it easier for something exciting to happen. When the drivers are coming out of Turn 1, they have to be very careful on the brakes into the chicane of Turns 2 & 3. On top of that, the track severely into Turn 2, so going side-by-side is incredibly difficult.
However, at the 2021 Mexican GP, the chaos began before the drivers reached Turn 2. Since the track is fairly wide coming into Turn 1, you can see a lot of heroics into Turn 1 from drivers trying to make up a position or two. The long main straight and that powerful slipstream set a driver up perfectly for some overtakes. Daniel Ricciardo was one of the many drivers who was aiming to gain some positions on the first lap. He started the race in P7 and overtook Carlos Sainz off the line. He got the slipstream off Gasly and Perez and pulled alongside Perez before the braking zone for Turn 1.
Ricciardo was on the inside line into Turn 1, and his front-right tire locked up under braking. The wheel started turning again as Ricciardo hit the apex of Turn 1. But Bottas, who was right in front of Ricciardo, went for the apex of Turn 1 as well. He slowed down a little bit more than expected because he wanted to try and switchback Hamilton and Verstappen through Turns 2 and 3 since they both overtook him into Turn 1. Ricciardo’s tire was still locking up ever so slightly into the apex of Turn 1. But while Ricciardo’s front right tire was hitting the apex, so was Bottas’s rear-right tire, which resulted in Bottas clipping Ricciardo’s front wing. That sent Bottas into a spin right in the middle of the track.
This was disastrous for both Bottas and Ricciardo since Ricciardo lost his front wing. To the surprise of many F1 fans, Ricciardo didn’t receive a penalty for the incident. The stewards noted the incident but confirmed that there was no investigation necessary. This made a lot of people curious because Ricciardo locked up and spun Bottas around. But the reasoning behind the stewards’ decision is clear. First of all, Ricciardo was in control of his car when the incident happened. because his front right tire was no longer locking up significantly. Secondly, he was not wholly to blame for the incident, which is a quality that must be present in an incident on Lap 1 for a penalty to be awarded. That’s why the stewards didn’t investigate the incident or penalise any drivers.
Bottas spinning wasn’t helpful to the other drivers either. They had to slow down significantly to make sure they didn’t hit the Mercedes that was right there in the middle of the track. That’s what caused the 2nd Turn 1 incident – the incident between Ocon, Schumacher and Tsunoda. Schumacher didn’t do too well off the start and had Ocon attacking him around the outside through Turn 1. However, into Turn 2, Schumacher was just behind Alonso. Alonso slowed down and swerved to the left to avoid the spun-around Merc of Bottas.
When Alonso escaped hitting Bottas, Schumacher turned to the left as well in order to avoid hitting Alonso. However, Ocon was still there, trying to get past Schumacher. Ocon would’ve had the space to cope with Schumacher avoiding Alonso. However, out of nowhere, Yuki Tsunoda saw that space and went for it down into Turn 2. Schumacher avoiding Alonso ended up with him hitting Ocon on the right, and Tsunoda hitting Ocon on the left.
Ocon was caught in a sandwich, and the two cars converged on him. Tsunoda and Schumacher both retired from the race because of suspension damage from the contact. It was incredibly disappointing for both of these drivers. The video below shows the crash and why Schumacher and Tsunoda had to retire. The jump and the landing inevitably damaged the suspensions of those cars.
A few drivers had to go off the track to avoid crashes because of these incidents, but they had to make sure they returned any positions gained. One of those drivers was Sergio Perez, and that allowed Pierre Gasly to try and overtake the Red Bull down into Turn 4. Gasly went for the move around the outside, but Perez nailed his braking to stay in P3. Gasly qualified in P5 after a stellar qualifying performance and gained a position thanks to Bottas’s spin. However, because of the two stranded cars and the debris on the track, the Safety Car came out for about 3 laps.
The race start for the 2021 Mexican GP was even more chaotic than usual thanks to a spin, and an Alpine sandwich. The start was a disaster for Mercedes but it was perfect for Red Bull. And Red Bull nailed the rest of the race too, which is what we’re going to look at now. That double podium was EXACTLY what Red Bull needed.
How RB Nailed it at Checo’s Home GP
In recent years, Red Bull have been really strong at the Autódromo Hermanos Rodríguez. The 2021 Mexican GP saw an opportunity for Red Bull to gain even more ground on Mercedes than they would’ve done at another circuit. The race started with a Mercedes front-row lockout, and a Red Bull 2nd-row lockout. As I wrote in my analysis of the race start, Red Bull emerged from the first few corners in 1st and 3rd, while Mercedes were in 2nd and last. This was already a dream start for Red Bull, but they needed to maintain this, and possibly aim for a 1-2 finish.
First of all, Verstappen pulled a large gap to Hamilton by the time the first pit window rolled around. On Lap 30, Hamilton came into the pits and swapped the set of mediums he started on for a set of hard tires. Sergio Perez was due to come in on the same lap, but the Red Bull pit crew went back into the garage because Red Bull wanted to try and gain some time on Hamilton in the first pit window. Not bringing Perez in proved to be crucial for Red Bull. When Hamilton came out of the pitlane, he came out right behind Leclerc. That dirty air from Leclerc’s car was something that Mercedes didn’t want.
Red Bull managed to stretch the first stint much better than Mercedes did. Verstappen came into the pits for a set of hards after starting on the mediums on lap 34. After a sweet 2.2-second stop, Verstappen came out of the pits in the net lead of the race with no dirty air hampering him. Sergio Perez’s brilliant tire management skills came in handy once again. This time, he managed to come into the pits on Lap 40, a full 10 laps after Hamilton came in. Keep in mind, this was a 1-stop race, meaning Red Bull needed to nail that one pitstop for both drivers. And they did, as Perez’s pitstop was only 2.3 seconds long.
By Lap 50, Perez got the clean air and the grip that he needed to actually start to catch up to Hamilton. With 21 laps to go, and tires 10 laps fresher than Hamilton’s, Perez had 6 seconds to gain on Hamilton. He got the fastest lap and clearly had some serious pace because he was a second a lap faster than Hamilton. By Lap 60, Perez was just over a second behind Hamilton. Lando Norris was giving Hamilton dirty air, which was heating Hamilton’s tires up. Perez came within a second of Hamiton, but unfortunately, he couldn’t make any progress from there. He had DRS, and he was gaining on Hamilton.
On Lap 71, the final lap of the race, Perez tried to close up to Hamilton and make an overtake for P2. Down into Turn 1, Perez came within 6 tenths of a second of Hamilton. The last chance he had to clinch P2 was at Turn 4, so Perez used DRS to close up to Hamilton. He went for the lunge down into Turn 4, but Hamilton was just far enough ahead to secure P2.
Red Bull clearly nailed that race; yes, they couldn’t achieve the dream of getting a 1-2 finish. That would’ve put them 2 points ahead of Mercedes in the constructors’ standings. But their strategy worked in the sense that Perez could close up to Hamilton and Verstappen could take a clear win. Red Bull didn’t have to compromise at all in the 2021 Mexican GP. The double-podium was celebrated with Checo’s home fans, and I think it was a well-earned achievement for the team.
How 8 Different Teams Scored Points
It’s VERY unusual for 8 out of the 10 teams in Formula 1 to score points in one race. Usually, only 6 or 7 teams score points in a race, but at the 2021 Mexican GP, 8 teams did. Of course, Red Bull and Mercedes scored points. However, instead of the Top 4 being all Merc and RB, AlphaTauri’s Pierre Gasly was in P4. AlphaTauri scoring points is not a surprise – they’ve only failed to score points in two races this year. But seeing an AlphaTauri that high up the order is a stellar performance. Bottas finished the race in P15 after the lap 1 spin, getting held up by Ricciardo, and a disastrous pitstop, which opened up a spot in the Top 4. Behind Gasly were the two Ferraris, with Leclerc beating his teammate. Now, this is the really crazy part.
The last 4 drivers in the points-paying positions (Top 10) were Vettel, Raikkonen, Alonso and Norris. Vettel in the Aston Martin, Raikkonen in the Alfa Romeo, Alonso in the Alpine, and Norris in the McLaren. The last 4 finishers were all from different teams. I’m sure I’m not the only one who found this baffling at first. But now, I’ve broken it down and figured out why 8 different teams scored points in Mexico City.
First of all, a spot in the top 10 was open because of Bottas’ disaster. Secondly, McLaren usually holds either one or two points positions. In this case, Lando Norris was the only McLaren driver to score points, with Daniel Ricciardo having a horrible race too. The rest of the places in the Top 10 are usually occupied by an Alpine or an Aston Martin. When they were on form, George Russell would be in the points for Williams too. But in this race, Kimi Raikkonen pulled his Alfa Romeo in the points as well to make it 8 teams in the points.
After the chaotic start, both Alfa Romeos made it into the points, and George Russell was up there too after a lightning start. By Lap 10, Russell went from P9 to P11 after Raikkonen and Alonso overtook him. So far, there were already 7 teams in the Top 10. On the left is the order on Lap 10, just after Alonso overtook George Russell.
Antonio Giovinazzi was up in P7, which was a fantastic position for him. However, Giovinazzi came into the pits on Lap 16. That was way too early, considering how Lewis Hamilton came in on Lap 30. For a 1-stop race, you can’t come into the pits that early. Giovnazzi finished the race in P11, which was painfully close to points considering how disastrous the pit window went. However, Giovinazzi losing out resulted in Lando Norris making it into the points. After starting in P18 due to an engine penalty, Norris carved his way through the field, to bring Mclaren into the points. And there you have the driver representing the 8th team that scored points.
A combination of good luck for some drivers and some rapid pace resulted in 8 teams making it into the points-paying positions at the 2021 Mexican GP. The dub that Red Bull took was a crucial one, because heading into the Brazilian GP, they’re going to try and take the lead of the constructors’ championship. The 2021 Mexican GP was also crucial for Ferrari because they are now ahead of McLaren in the race for 3rd in the constructors’ standings. Stay safe, stay on the lookout for new posts, and be sure to watch the 2021 Brazilian GP! It’s gonna be a thriller…