Local Boy Perez Shines at Mexican Grand Prix F1Esta
28 October 2019 | Ravenol Marketing
Local hero Checo put in a stellar drive at the Mexican Grand Prix, holding off rival Ricciardo in the Renault to take 7th place and 6 well deserved points for the Racing Point team.
The Autódromo Hermanos Rodríguez in Mexico City is like a second home to our F1 Technical Partners, SportPesa Racing Point, and is certainly the home race for Mexico’s favourite Racing driver, Sergio “Checo” Perez. As the drivers went round the track, the crowd were all on their feet for their favourite F1 star.
The Racing Point cars started off with Lance Stroll in 16th and Checo in 11th, having narrowly missed out on Q3. At the front there were some shuffles, after Red Bull’s Max Verstappen – fastest in Qualifying – was given a 3 place grid penalty for not slowing for a yellow flag. The left him down in 4th and bumped the Ferrari’s into a front row lockout. At the start, Verstappen and Mercedes’ Lewis Hamilton were straight after the Ferraris but the pair collided at Turn 2, forcing Verstappen wide, and the Ferraris stayed ahead. Further back, Lance got another good start and made up a couple of places, whilst Checo did his best to avoid the melee of the first few turns to keep hold of 11th.
A few laps in, Checo was all over the gearbox of Toro Ross’s Pierre Gasly and by Lap 5 he’d got the job done to take 10th and move up into the points. Meanwhile, Verstappen was once again getting into trouble with the Mercedes, this time Valtteri Bottas. He had slight contact with Bottas overtaking him, but it was enough for a puncture and the Finn soon took the place straight back. Verstappen was forced into an early pit, giving Checo and Lance and extra place boost.
Checo took no time in getting on after Gasly’s teammate Daniil Kvyat and was within DRS in only a few laps, the boost from the home crowd clearly worth a few 10ths. A lap later and Kvyat was also ticked off the list, much to the delight of the amazing crowds. In response, the Russian dived into the pits after his teammate, giving Lance a two place bump up to 11th.
There was drama down at McLaren though, after a pit light issue saw Lando Norris given the green light to move off when his front left wheel wasn’t secure. The mechanics had to run after him and push him back, which saw him tumbling down the field and lapped. But one man’s misfortune meant P7 for Checo and another pink car in the points as Lance was promoted to 10th.
Ferrari brought in Race leader Charles Leclerc, trying to cover off Red Bull’s Alex Albon, and with the pit window declared open, a few other teams came in, but the Racing Points stayed out a bit longer. They ended up with the two Renaults of Daniel Ricciardo and Nico Hulkenberg between them, and there was a hairy moment when they got into DRS of Checo, but the star Mexican driver was having none of it in front of his cheering fans, and the door was firmly shut.
Checo pitted on Lap 21 and came back out in 10th, still ahead of Hulkenberg but back behind Kvyat. But it only took our man a few laps to undo that, and a messy stop for Alfa Romeo’s Antonio Giovinazzi – another wheel gun/ green light issue – saw him make that 2 places gained.
Half way through the race, front runner Lewis Hamilton came in for his stop, but Sebastian Vettel was told to prepare to pit but stay out for now. Hamilton was put onto the hard tyres, and although initially he wasn’t happy with them, it meant he could continue to the end of the race in search of not just a race win but also a 6th World Champion title. Hamilton’s teammate Bottas then also pitted, but Ferrari’s plans started to go awry when Vettel was held up by back markers. He came out just ahead of Bottas after his own pit stop, but behind Hamilton, whilst race leader Leclerc needed to pit again.
By Lap 41, the charging Red Bull of Max Verstappen was coming up behind Checo on his bid to get back up the field. A few laps later and he was right behind him, and despite Checo’s best efforts, the Dutchman managed to get past. Checo fought back and for a while was stuck to Verstappen’s gearbox like glue, but the Red Bull was too fast and eventually pulled away.
Up at the front, race leader Leclerc pitted and came out in 5th, but was too far back to do anything other than mull how Ferrari’s strategists had yet again offered up another victory up to the Silver Arrows. Behind the front runners, Daniel Ricciardo was still doing well on his first set of tyres, not even losing time to Verstappen. Once he pitted, he came back out behind Checo in 8th.
Meanwhile, Lance was a couple of places back in 10th, but by now his tyres were starting to fade and Kvyat was coming up behind him. But as luck would have it, the front runners were approaching and Kvyat had to slow for them. Lance managed to let the front runners past without losing so much time, giving him a few seconds advantage.
A few laps later, Ricciardo finally caught up with Checo, but the Mexican once again kept the door firmly shut, much to the delight of the home fans who were willing him on. Ricciardo tried again the next lap on the long DRS straight, but locked up and ran wide, bouncing across the grass and back onto the track, but had to give the place back as he cut the corner.
Meanwhile Kvyat was back up behind Lance, and this time there was no reprieve for the luckless Canadian and he slipped back to 11th, out of the points. On much fresher tyres, Kvyat soon pulled away and was replaced by his teammate Gasly, now sniffing around Lance’s gearbox. A lap later, Gasly also managed to get past the struggling Lance and he ended up in 12th. Not even a spectacular collision on the last lap between Kvyat and Hulkenberg, which saw Hulkenberg into the wall before limping over the line without a rear wing and Kvyat given a 10 second penalty post-race, could change poor Lance’s fate.
But ahead, Checo was still valiantly fending off Ricciardo’s advances and managed to hold him off to take 7th. Hamilton took the win, ahead of Vettel and Bottas, but he wasn’t far enough ahead of his teammate to take the World Championship today, so the fight continues for another week.
We’ll catch you again this weekend in Austin for the USA Grand Prix! Here’s hoping there’s more points in store for the Men in Pink and lots more exciting racing!