- The general consensus among the teams was that a two-stop strategy was the fastest way to make it through the 71 laps of the Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez Circuit.
- Those who dare to be different, however, have the chance to chart a new path to the goal and so it was that Mercedes' gamble to pit Hamilton early paid handsome dividends.
Mercedes' driver Lewis Hamilton showed his unwavering resolve to win by nursing his hard tyres for 48 laps to take the chequered flag at the Mexican Grand Prix in a race in which he himself had at some point doubted he could conquer.
The general consensus among the teams was that a two-stop strategy was the fastest way to make it through the 71 laps of the Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez Circuit.
Those who dare to be different, however, have the chance to chart a new path to the goal and so it was that Mercedes' gamble to pit Hamilton early paid handsome dividends.
Red Bull's Max Verstappen had found form in the right window to secure pole position by more than two-tenths of a second. Such was his form that he out-qualified his teammate, Alexander Albon, by more than half a second. Ferrari's Charles Leclerc yet again out-qualified his teammate, four-time world champion, Sebastian Vettel.
Hamilton was fourth, Albon fifth, while Mercedes' Valtteri Bottas, who crashed during qualifying, was sixth. For ignoring yellow flags as soon as Bottas crashed, Verstappen, who was on his flying lap, was given a three-place grid penalty.
Hamilton made a great start and hoped to get into the slipstream of Leclerc, but Vettel would have none of it, squeezing the Brit to the left to the extent that he took evasive action and had two wheels off the track. Leclerc, realising that he could inadvertently give those behind him the advantage, switched sides and went right, effectively preventing Vettel from gaining extra speed.
SIDE BY SIDE
Hamilton and Verstappen were side by side going into Turn One, with the Brit sweeping the outside. Verstappen attempted to muscle his way through by squeezing Hamilton but the five-time world champion held firm.
The result was that Hamilton skidded and could not take Turn Two, getting onto the grass with Verstappen following suit. The two lost positions with Hamilton dropping to fifth from third while Verstappen got to eighth from fourth. Ahead of them, Vettel also bumped Leclerc still within the first lap.
On the fourth lap, Verstappen attempted a brave move on Bottas at Turn 13. It worked, momentarily, but then the Dutchman had had his rear right tyre clipped by the front wing of Bottas and he soon got a puncture.
He bravely limped to the pit stop and when he re-joined the race, he was last. The chance to emulate his victory here last year had evaporated.
As the race settled in, the key question became whether teams would deploy a one-stop or two-stop strategy. When Albon pitted on the 14th lap from third, Ferrari reacted by pitting Leclerc soon after. Hamilton was brought in on the 23rd lap and given the hard compound.