F1 returns to Mexico, gives Rosberg victory
23 years ago, Mexico dropped off the F1 calendar because the Autodromo Hermanos Rodriquez track at the city centre had fallen into disrepair. To entice F1 to return, the track has undergone a US$50 million overhaul and removed the Peraltada Turn, which killed Ricardo Rodriquez back in ‘62 and where Ayrton Senna crashed in ’91. Citizens of Mexico City woke up to an exciting weekend as the motor racing series returned once more and Force India’s Sergio Perez (pictured below), one of only six Mexican drivers in the whole of F1 history, shouldered the hopes of the nation.
But it was Mercedes’ Nico Rosberg who claimed victory, his first in more than four months, beating teammate and this season’s world champion, Lewis Hamilton. Rosberg controlled the race from the start, with Hamilton only a few seconds behind.
The largely uneventful race was enlivened during the latter half when a bit of controversy cropped up in team Mercedes. The initial strategy was to run on a single stop, using the soft tyres for the first third of the race and the medium tyres for the long remainder. But with 25 out of 71 laps left, Mercedes called Rosberg in for a second stop, and Hamilton a lap later.
Hamilton at first did not acquiesce, wanting to know why, and was told it was for “safety reasons” as the first set of tyres were “down to the canvas”; eventually he was ‘instructed’ to come in. After that, Hamilton set out to take on his teammate, until Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel crashed, bringing out the safety car. After the restart, Rosberg held Hamilton off for another 22 laps until the end.
With his fourth win of the season, Rosberg moves up to second in the championship standings, passing Vettel, who lost out on points after having to retire following the crash. Williams’ Valtteri Bottas rounded out the podium in third.
But for the spectators in the grandstand, it didn’t seem to matter who finished in first until seventh. Perez, who came in eighth, was still the crowd’s favourite until the end. He was the only driver to stop once, leaving him with old tyres at the end of the race. “I’m a very lucky driver and a very lucky person to be able to experience this,” Perez said. “I would like to have given them a victory here, and I hope one day I will give them that victory here. But eighth pace in the conditions it’s like a first place.”