You’d be mistaken and completely forgiven for confusing the 2022 Mexico City Grand Prix for the 2021 Mexico City Grand Prix. The 2022 Formula 1 cars may generate downforce differently, use higher ethanol fuel mixtures, and have different liveries compared to the 2021 cars, but the 2022 Mexico City Grand Prix produced the same podium as the 2021 edition of the race.

We’ll review the Formula 1 Mexico City Grand Prix and all that happened and didn’t happen on Sunday afternoon in Mexico City, as Max Verstappen set a new record for most wins in a Formula 1 season. High altitude, high downforce, and high speeds combined for a Grand Prix that continued certain trends and brought a halt to others.

But for one to have enjoyed the Mexican Grand Prix, you truly have to be enthralled by the suspense-filled tire strategy.

Otherwise, the Mexican Grand Prix was almost procedural after the first lap and couldn’t be more different than the exciting, action-packed United States Grand Prix last weekend. And what an uneventful race it was.

Formula 1 Mexico City Grand Prix Qualifying

The Autodromo Hermanos Rodríguez was celebrating sixty years in motorsports and
provided an interesting qualifying session. Mercedes looked strong all weekend, benefitting from the lower drag the altitude of Mexico City provides.

Lewis Hamilton topped the times in Q1 and Q2, while track evolution had the majority of the front runners – including Red Bull’s Sergio Perez – doing extra runs to ensure they made it through to Q2.

After Free Practice 1 on Friday, Mercedes pace had everyone, including Ferrari’s Carlos Sainz, believing we might have a six or seven-car race for pole position. While six cars from four constructors finished within 0.2 seconds of one another on Friday, only two constructors had the pace to potentially take pole. And somewhat surprisingly, Ferrari was not among them.

Mercedes landed both cars in the top three at the end of qualifying three, yet couldn’t stop Verstappen from claiming pole position in the end, with Verstappen posting a 0.3-second gap to George Russell in second place.

Mexico City Grand Prix Fastest Qualifier: Red Bull’s Max Verstappen (1:17.775)

Formula 1 Mexico City Grand Prix Review

Ready? It’s lights out, and away we go! And the Mexico City Grand Prix was over before we reached turn four of lap one. Was the Mexico City Grand Prix truly over after turn 4? No. Was it almost a foregone conclusion, barring reliability and strategy curveballs? Unfortunately, yes.

The Mexico City Grand Prix was not the first race this season where strategy was prominent but it was likely the most critical and most uncertain of any Grand Prix in 2022. To start, the entire grid started the race on a mix of tires: Ferrari and Red Bull opted for soft Pirelli tires, while Mercedes was among the medium compound runners.

Throughout the entire Grand Prix, commentators and fans speculated on a two-stop strategy versus a one-stop strategy, with most thinking Red Bull was opting for a two-stop strategy while Mercedes were likely on for a one-stop strategy.

Yet, as the lap total counted down, the durability and pace of the medium tire proved to be the right race tire and a one-stop strategy on those tires was going to win the race.

Having not run the medium compound tires at all throughout the weekend, Red Bull was among the teams prepared for a multi-stop, medium-compound-focused race strategy, only requiring one new set of mediums to claim first and third. Red Bull again aced the strategy game throughout the weekend to cruise to another win and land both cars on the podium.

Despite the Ferrari power units having reliability issues during practice and the turbochargers struggling at times in the Grand Prix with the altitude, a Ferrari-powered car was one of two unexpected results in the top 10. We haven’t spoken much about Valtteri Bottas or Alfa Romero since their Monaco Grand Prix expectations and optimism fell flat.

The C42’s pace improved with upgrades implemented during the United States Grand Prix and fully played out in Mexico City, as Bottas qualified sixth and finished the Grand Prix tenth.

McLaren’s Daniel Ricciardo was the driver of the day and the only driver really making any overtakes on the track. While Ricciardo’s day will be more remembered for his wrecking ball approach to passing Alpha Tauri’s Yuki Tsunoda, which earned him a 10-second time penalty, and ended Tsunoda’s race, his performance in the MCL-36 was unexpected and served as a reminder of the quality of driver the grid is losing in 2023.

Ricciardo finished seventh, giving McLaren very valuable points in the constructors’ standings fight with Alpine.

As for our hero, Fernando Alonso, it wasn’t a great day or weekend, especially considering Alonso was one of the drivers within 0.2 seconds of P1 in Free Practice 1. Alonso took to his favorite tool (the radio) to declare his displeasure with the Alpine A-522’s reliability issues that have cost him a significant amount of points throughout the season.

Alonso was the only victim of reliability in the race and was not very pleased with his slowing, then failing A-522.

Mexico City Grand Prix Top Six

P1: Max Verstappen – Red Bull
P2: Lewis Hamilton – Mercedes
P3: Sergio Pérez – Red Bull
P4: George Russell – Mercedes
P5: Carlos Sainz – Ferrari
P6: Charles Leclerc – Ferrari

Aside from occupying the same steps on the podium in 2021 and 2022, how similar were the two editions of the Mexico City Grand Prix? Very and we’ll let the finishing timing spreads do the talking:

2021: Max Verstappen (1:38:39.086), Lewis Hamilton (+16.555), Sergio Perez (+17.752)

2022: Max Verstappen (1:38:36.729), Lewis Hamilton (+15.186), Sergio Perez (+18.907)

With a new era of cars that generate their downforce differently and new fuels, these times are amazingly close year over year and speaks to how similar the 2021 and 2022 Mexico Grand Prix finishing times were to each other.

The Trends That Continue and One That Ended in Mexico City

Sadly, we have two races left in the 2022 Formula 1 schedule. However, that means we have two more races for Mercedes’ George Russell to land in the top six and continue a season-long trend.

The main reason I choose to focus on a top six in Formula 1 qualifying and Grand Prix results is that this is where you will find the best betting value for your Formula 1 picks. Picking Max Verstappen to win every weekend pays out more often than not but will never provide a great return.

However, picking Russell to finish in the top 6 has been as much of a lock as picking Verstappen to win in 2022. Russell finished fourth in the Mexico City Grand Prix, making it seventeen of twenty races the Mercedes driver has finished a Grand Prix in the top 6.

Although Interlagos in Sao Paulo, Brazil might not favor the W-13’s drag characteristics, I think it is likely that Russell will continue this trend and land in the top six again.

Mexico City’s trend of an annual safety car or virtual safety car deployment was under threat when the grid had an uncharacteristically clean first lap, and the track temperatures declined, making reliability issues less of a concern. Alonso’s power unit issues brought out a virtual safety car on lap 65 to continue the trend.

The trend of the person leading the Mexico City Grand Prix after the first few turns winning the race continued. However, four-time Mexico City Grand Prix winner Max Verstappen ended the streak of someone not starting from pole position winning the race.

Up Next: Interlagos

We have two races remaining in the 2022 Formula 1 season for Max Verstappen to establish the single-season record of most wins by percentage in a season, and he’ll need to win the final two races to hold all the single-season race win records.

The penultimate Grand Prix takes place from the old-school favorite, the Interlagos Circuit and the Sāo Paulo Grand Prix. The Sāo Paulo Grand Prix takes place from November 11th to November 13th in Sáu Paulo, Brazil.

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