► Red Bull admits to cost cap breach
► Verstappen wins 14th race this season
► Ferrari and Mercedes switch places
F1 returned to Mexico this weekend for a race that promised much but delivered very little. Practice and qualifying sessions pointed to an action-packed race, but in the end, we got more of a thriller, with strategy and tyre life management ultimately deciding the result.
Max Verstappen crossed the line first – for a record-breaking 14th time this year – and he was followed by Lewis Hamilton and home-favourite Checo Perez. However, just as in Austin the week before, there were some interesting stories down the field – and even more off the track.
Keep reading for 5 things we learnt in the Mexican GP.
1. Red Bull admits to cost cap breach
After rumours and allegations, Red Bull admitted to breaching the 2021 cost cap rules – though the punishment for doing so may be lighter than you’d expect. Essentially taking a ‘plea bargain’ rather than facing more draconian punishments, Red Bull will have to pay the FIA $7million and will also receive a 10% reduction in wind tunnel testing, as well as restricted CFD limits.
Paddock whispers suggest that the fine is pretty light; the team keeps the results it achieved while going over the breach. What’s more, the CFD and wind tunnel limits simply mean that the team can divert their resources to other parts of the car, such as the suspension or weight-saving measures. Finally, the $7million fine doesn’t come out of the team’s future budget cap, so if they have the money (which they certainly do) it’ll have little effect on R&D spending.
Was the punishment equal to the transgression? Let us know in the comments.
2. Mercedes gets its best chance for a win yet
Mercedes found itself fighting for victory last week, though it was mainly down to a slow stop for Max Verstappen. This weekend however, the W13 was the second fastest car, with both George Russell and Lewis Hamilton putting in quick times throughout the weekend. Now ahead of the Ferraris, the Mercedes wasn’t a match for one of the Red Bulls – though that was partly because of an unusual tyre strategy.
Rather than going for Softs and then Medium compound tyres, the Mercedes pit wall opted for Mediums and then Hards. That proved to be the wrong way to go, as both Red Bull and McLaren’s Ricciardo proved that a Medium and Soft strategy was both viable for a one stop race, and ultimately faster.
3. Daniel Ricciardo reminds us why he’s in F1
Daniel Ricciardo managed to simultaneously prove why he doesn’t have a seat next year – but why he also was once of the sport’s hottest properties. After a clumsy move which took Yuki Tsunoda out of the race, Ricciardo regrouped, put on some Softs and gave one of his best performances of the year. The result? A 7th place, even after a ten second penalty for knocking off the Alpha Tauri. While the Australian may not have a race seat for next year, it’s hard to believe his F1 career is done for good.
4. Ferrari slumps further
Just a few months ago, Ferrari looked to be on course to win its first constructors’ championship since 2008, and its first drivers’ championship since Kimi Raikkonen in 2007. Fast forward to the Mexican GP, and it’s hard to believe Maranello was ever in the title fight at all.
While Red Bull remains on top, it’s now fighting off silver cars – not red ones – and it doesn’t bode well for next year either. Regardless of who was behind the wheel, the Ferrari looked a handful around the Mexican circuit, with bags of oversteer and tyre degradation, and the pace wasn’t great either. Maranello will need to do some serious work between now and next year if it’s to sustain a serious title challenge in 2023.
5. Alonso has more unreliability issues
Mechanical failures have been an unwelcome trend for Alonso and Alpine this year, and yesterday it happened again. After qualifying 9th and fighting his way to 7th, the Spaniard’s engine dropped a cylinder before totally blowing up In the last ten laps.
‘Car 14 stops before the chequered flag, so I think now we lost about 70 points,’ Alonso told the F1 website. ‘I think Austin and Mexico have been the best races from a personal point of view. Pace-wise, I was like 20 seconds or something like that ahead of the McLarens and my team mate. I felt fast, but once again Car 14 stops.’