Max Verstappen beat old rival Lewis Hamilton to win the Mexico City Grand Prix and break the record for most wins in a season.

The Dutchman got a great start from pole to hold the lead for the first three turns from George Russell and Hamilton, who started second and third, but fell out with each other in the Red Bull slipstream.

Hamilton overtook Russell, who was relegated to fourth by Sergio Perez, allowing Verstappen to establish a gap of 1.3s with a lap to go. Hamilton kept him honest, not threatening to pass, keeping him within 2.5s.

The Briton started with a medium formation, rather than the soft one that Verstappen chose, and played a long game. Of course, the Dutchman complained that his tires were running out after the 20th lap.

On the 25th lap, Red Bull Racing stopped him for a set of intermediates. Hamilton followed in 29th, switching to hard.

Mercedes assumed that Verstappen would have to stop again and Hamilton could stay away, and initially the Dutchman seemed to stick to that strategy, managing his pace. The longer the work went on, the more it became apparent that the RB18 could lean on a medium stock without wearing it out.

Hamilton, meanwhile, struggled to pick up the pace from the hards and, combined with intermittent power cuts, allowed the gap to widen. Mercedes hoped the media would eventually give up and hand the race back to the Brit, but the moment never came. Verstappen suddenly used a faster one-stop strategy and took the win by 15.1s.

“Incredible result,” said the Red Bull pilot. “The pace of the car was very good again. We had to look after the tires because it was a very long job on the means, but we made it work.”

His 14th win moves him one race clear of Michael Schumacher and Sebastian Vettel’s previous record for most wins in a single season.

“It’s been an incredible year,” Verstappen said. “We’re definitely enjoying it and we’re going to try to go bigger.”

Hamilton complained about his choice of tires for the race, but admitted his Mercedes could not match the pace of Red Bull Racing.

“I think I was close in the first stint, but the Red Bull was clearly too fast today,” said the seven-time champion. “They ended up having a better tire strategy. I’m not sure if (solid) was the right tire at the end. I thought we should have started soft.”

Sergio Perez finished 2.9 seconds behind Hamilton to claim his second consecutive home podium, but regretted a 5-second pit stop that prevented him from jumping into the Mercedes car.

“Today I gave my all at the start; really pushed hard,” Perez said. “Unfortunately we had a bit of a bad stop that prevented us from beating Lewis. Overtaking is so difficult. Once I got behind him, it was very difficult to follow.’

George Russell was fourth, but his advantage over the Ferrari cars behind him was large enough to make a late stop on the soft tires and take the bonus point for fastest lap.

Carlos Sainz led Charles Leclerc home a minute behind in the Italian team’s worst Grand Prix of the year, with his power unit fighting hard at altitude to keep up with the leaders.

Daniel Ricciardo was the highlight of a day that included a bit of overtaking, completing a back-to-back approach to seventh. At the end of the first lap, the Australian was 13th, but had a very long run on the medium tire when it became clear that the yellow-striped rubber had lasted longer than expected.

He left his first stop until lap 44 to switch to the soft compound, with which he made a hard final push to climb deep into the points. It was not without controversy, and he was almost destroyed by a disaster with Yuki Tsunoda early in his tenure. At turn six, Ricciardo nosed into the interior of the AlphaTauri and forced the Japanese pilot off the track into retirement. McLaren was unhurt, but was given a 10-second penalty for causing the crash.

However, his forward movement was unstoppable. He overtook struggling teammate Land Norris, passed Valtteri Bottas and then passed both Alpine cars to move up to seventh.

In the final 10 laps, he jumped to a 12-second lead over Esteban Ocon in eighth, despite a virtual safety car interruption, to recover Fernando Alonso’s stalled Alpine after another technical retirement for the Spaniard to consolidate his position despite penalty, winning driver of the day in the process.

Ocon finished eighth ahead of Norris, while Valtteri Bottas rounded out the top 10 and took the final point of the race.

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