It's been an incredible season, says Verstappen after his 16th win in Mexico

Home favourite Perez retires after first-corner collision

By Reuters

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Red Bull's Max Verstappen celebrates on the podium after winning the Mexico City Grand Prix. — Reuters
Red Bull's Max Verstappen celebrates on the podium after winning the Mexico City Grand Prix. — Reuters

Published: Mon 30 Oct 2023, 6:09 PM

Red Bull's triple world champion Max Verstappen became the first Formula One driver to take 16 victories in a season when he won a crash-halted and action-packed Mexico City Grand Prix on Sunday.

On a nightmare afternoon for Mexican team mate Sergio Perez, who retired after colliding at the first corner with Ferrari's Charles Leclerc, the 26-year-old Dutch driver also equalled French great Alain Prost's haul of 51 career wins.

Only three drivers have won more races in the history of the sport and Verstappen could have passed Sebastian Vettel, next in his sights on 53, by the end of the season.

The win was also his 14th in the last 15 races and a fifth in six editions of the grand prix at the Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez.

"We are experiencing an incredible season. Today, we had to start P3 but I think the pace of the car was very, very good," said Verstappen, who set the previous record of 15 last year and has already secured his third title in a row.

"Seventeen, 18, 19? I don't know," he added when asked about his next goal with three races remaining. Red Bull have won all but one of the 19 so far.

Mercedes's Lewis Hamilton finished second, with a bonus point for fastest lap, and pole-sitter Leclerc was third in a race red-flagged and restarted just before the halfway point when Haas's Kevin Magnussen crashed heavily.

Ferrari had locked out the front row but Verstappen made a storming start to seize the lead down the inside, with Leclerc caught in the middle between the two Red Bulls and making wheel contact with Perez trying to go past on the outside.

The Mexican's car was tipped up and went airborne, landing heavily on the runoff. He made it back to the pits but was retired.

"I had nowhere to go," said Leclerc, who was booed by the crowd on the podium.

The blank left Perez only 20 points clear of Hamilton in the battle for second place overall, with three grands prix and a sprint to come.

Second is a priority for dominant Red Bull who have never yet finished a season with their drivers first and second.

Hamilton started sixth but was third at the re-start and passed Leclerc for second on lap 40 with a daring move that kicked up a cloud of dust as he went two wheels over the line to get past.

Ferrari's Carlos Sainz ended up fourth, with McLaren's Lando Norris a stunning fifth after starting in 17th place and putting in the drive of the day.

The Briton was let through by team mate Oscar Piastri, who finished eighth, to attack and pass AlphaTauri's Daniel Ricciardo and then Mercedes George Russell.

Russell had to settle for sixth and Ricciardo, who qualified in fourth place, scored his first points of the campaign for AlphaTauri in seventh.

Alex Albon was ninth for Williams and Esteban Ocon 10th for Renault-owned Alpine after being let through by team mate Pierre Gasly to attack and pass Haas's Nico Hulkenberg.

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