Despite having been surprisingly locked out of the front row during Qualifying on Saturday, both Max Verstappen and Sergio Pérez of Red Bull Racing Honda had a 2021 Formula 1 Mexico Grand Prix to remember.
Verstappen, taking advantage of the tow behind Valterri Bottas and title-rival Lewis Hamilton, held his nerve to brake latest into the first corner and pass both Mercedes cars within seconds of the start. From that point on, he built a commanding lead and never seemed troubled, taking the chequered flag with a cushion of over 16 seconds to extend his championship lead to 19 points with four races remaining.
Pérez meanwhile finished in third to take his third consecutive podium finish and his first at his home race. He was hot on Hamilton’s trail over the closing laps but just could not find a way past the British driver. The one-three result leaves Red Bull Racing Honda a single point behind Mercedes in the quest for the Constructors’ Championship.
It was an incredible day for the team and also for the fans, to have Checo on the podium here in Mexico at his home Grand Prix was great, so it couldn’t have been better. I knew the start was very important today, we were three-wide at one point and I was on the more ideal race line so I could break later and get into the lead. After that I could do my own thing, the pace was very good today so I could just keep building and creating a gap, the pit stops were seamless and the car was good throughout the race which was crucial today. Checo, for the last few races, has really picked it up, he’s been up there and he was really pressuring Lewis today towards the end. I’m still not thinking about that trophy, we’ll try again in Brazil and just keep pushing.
This is a great result for my country, I really wanted more but unfortunately, we didn’t get that. It was so messy in turn one so to avoid incident there was critical and then I wanted second place, but we didn’t get the chance because it is just so difficult to overtake around here. I was really close to getting Lewis but the Mercedes are so quick on the straight lines so I didn’t get an opportunity to go for it but I gave my best. I could feel the fans’ energy when I was going through the stadium sector and I was thinking about how many people were there for me, I could actually hear the crowd when I was driving through Foro Sol. I wanted more but I am just very happy to be on the podium of my home country, the Mexicans were so happy today.
We are so competitive as drivers that when we finish third we aren’t happy but today I had to enjoy it, everyone who has been there since the start with me was there at the end of the race and that was an amazing moment for me. I think today we were the fastest team, but that is going to swing around for the remainder of the season, so we just have to keep our focus and keep pushing.
Christian Horner – Team Principal
Today was a big race and a big team win. It was a flawless performance from the entire team, from drivers to pitstops to strategy to reliability, it was a really strong team performance. Max was phenomenal again today, he found some space at turn one, and I have to say Bottas was very fair and allowed him enough space, and Max made the most of it and was then able to control the race. It’s the first time Honda has had a driver win nine races in a year, as Max was tied with Senna on eight, so that’s a great achievement for him and Honda. What a weekend it has been for Checo, the first Mexican to lead the home Grand Prix and first to finish on the podium, his third in as many races is really special. He’s found his confidence in the car and his performances are getting stronger and stronger, it’s exactly what we were hoping for from him. Next up is Brazil, where it’s a sprint race and we still haven’t won a sprint race weekend yet. We saw how competitive Mercedes were this weekend, particularly in qualifying, so we are taking nothing for granted. There are still 107 points available, it’s a long way to go and there’s a lot of racing left.