The passion from the Mexican fans oozed through television sets and was every bit as electric as this time last year.
Mexico 2015 marked the start of Nico Rosberg’s winning streak that only ended in Spain this year. The 2016 outing of the Mexican GP was mediocre at best, and as far away from a fiesta as a Formula One car is to, well, a Fiesta.
Had Lewis Hamilton failed to finish the race and Nico Rosberg took the spoils, the German would have won his first world title in front of the incredible crowd at the Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez. Of the final races still to go, this would be the place one would surely choose to clinch a title at.
But Hamilton got away from the grid, and bar a trip across the grass at turn one from locking up his tyres, drove a seamless and controlled race from start to finish.
Rosberg had a small argy-bargy with Max Verstappen at the first corner which also spat him onto the grass, but was able to maintain second place. There was a small scare after the pitstops as Verstappen gained steadily on the Silver Arrow and attempted a dive down the inside of Rosberg, only to overcook it and fall back behind once again where he remained until the end of the race.
What happened to Haas and McLaren?
The two biggest draws for the Mexican fans were home-grown talents Sergio Perez and Esteban Gutierrez.
However the latter and his teammate struggled throughout the race weekend and languished well behind the Saubers and Renaults after a decent outing at the US GP a week ago.
Both McLarens finished in the points in Austin, but seven days later failed to make an impression in Mexico City and finished out of the points.
The Ferrari-Verstappen rivalry turns up a notch
Sebastian Vettel was unbelievably – in hindsight – fastest in free practice two on Friday.
A shoddy qualifying saw the Force India of Nico Hulkenberg jump both prancing horses.
For two thirds of the race they seemed relatively anonymous, though Raikkonen was able to send Hulkenberg into a spin in reliving him of sixth place.
And then Vettel caught Max Verstappen.
Vettel’s strategy saw him pit far later than the rest of the grid and gave him the tyre life to catch those in front of him. And in front of him was Verstappen.
Vettel attempted an overtake on the Red Bull, only for Verstappen to overshoot and escape off the track in trying to keep the German behind, and undoubtably gained an advantage in doing so.
Vettel was then almost caught by Ricciardo and passed for fourth, but the riled German was having none of it and forced his former teammate to concede.
He effed and blinded – even telling Race Director Charlie Whiting to go a certain somewhere – and it looked as though a very angry Ferrari driver would be storming round the paddock.
Meanwhile, Verstappen started to unwind in the podium room only to find out he had been handed a time penalty and been demoted to fifth, and was promptly escorted out of the room.
Vettel was vindicated and enjoyed Ferrari’s first podium since Italy in early September.
But it wasn’t over yet. Vettel and Ricciardo were summoned to the stewards after the race to discuss the former’s defensive move after the incident with Verstappen. Vettel was found guilty of moving under braking – Verstappen’s now trademark move that has riled his fellow drivers and for which Vettel has oft argued should be penalised- and handed a 10 second penalty demoting him to fifth. Ricciardo was then ultimately classed in third.
By no means a classic, but the Championship fight is still very much alive as Formula One heads to Brazil and Abu Dhabi for the final races of the year.
2016 Mexican GP results
- Lewis Hamilton MERCEDES
- Nico Rosberg MERCEDES
- Daniel Ricciardo RED BULL
- Max Verstappen RED BULL
- Sebastian Vettel FERRARI
- Kimi Raikkonen FERRARI
- Nico Hulkenberg FORCE INDIA
- Valtteri Bottas WILLIAMS
- Felipe Massa WILLIAMS
- Sergio Perez FORCE INDIA
- Marcus Ericsson SAUBER
- Jenson Button MCLAREN
- Fernando Alonso MCLAREN
- Jolyon Palmer RENAULT
- Felipe Nasr SAUBER
- Carlos Sainz TORO ROSSO
- Kevin Magnussen RENAULT
- Danill Kvyat TORO ROSSO
- Esteban Gutierrez HAAS
- Romain Grosjean HAAS
- Esteban Ocon MANOR
DNF: Pascal Wehrlein MANOR
Formula One returns on 13th November for the Brazilian GP