(The meek shall inherit the earth. The first shall be last and the last shall be first. — The Bible) — Mexican Grand Prix
Lewis Hamilton was lapped by the race winner. That is not a sentence-long typo, that actually happened. Let’s investigate.
Qualifying at the Mexican Grand Prix provided a pleasant surprise — there was no Mercedes on the front row come Sunday. Max Verstappen of Red Bull had put down a scintillating fast lap and looked to have pole position locked up. But Sebastian Vettel of Ferrari was even more spectacular and bested Verstappen as time expired in qualifying. Mercedes’s Lewis Hamilton was in third.
As the lights went out on Sunday, the top three all got off to decent starts. In Mexico there is a very long drag race down to the first corner but no one was able to make a move stick. Vettel held the inside through turn one, but that put Verstappen on the inside for turn two. Vertsappen’s aggressive positioning caused Vettel to slow and Hamilton squeezed through too. But then Vettel and Hamilton collided, damaging Vettel’s front wing and puncturing Hamilton’s right rear tyre.
Verstappen scampered off to an unassailable lead while Hamilton called over the radio to his pit team, asking if they thought Vettel intentionally hit him.
Vettel and Hamilton both limped back to the pits and returned to the track at the very back. Vettel was fairly successful in picking his way through the field and got up to P4. Hamilton had much more trouble, especially at the start, and was lapped by Verstappen and Hamilton’s teammate Valterri Bottas.
Usually there isn’t much passing at Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez. So it was a treat to have Vettel and Hamilton making their way through the field.
Unfortunately, Vettel needed to finish at least P2 to keep the Drivers’ Championship race alive. Because of his P4 finish, we saw the incongruous sight of a lapped-Hamilton running around celebrating with anyone who would have him. Of course, we also were treated to Hamilton telling the Mexicans fans that they are the best in the world. Hamilton may need a refresher on how superlatives work.
With both the Constructors’ and Drivers’ Championships sewn up, we may see some risky and unorthodox racing strategies in the last two races. Tune in.