It was a day it seemed for reaching rather standard-looking results via rather haphazard routes. Looking at the first five home in the Mexican Grand Prix you’d be forgiven for thinking that this was another sedate one. Indeed had you watched it at any point between lap two and lap 67 of 71 you’d feel entirely vindicated as little went on.
But each of this top five was on the way involved in some kind of frolic, for which the arguments are ongoing.
For the Mercedes pair in general it was a lot like last week in Austin. Just like then Lewis Hamilton was for much of the weekend on another level to the rest, not least his team mate. Just like last week his team mate Nico Rosberg did – eventually – what was required to keep this year’s world championship under his control, by following him home.
Rosberg Reaches Match Point
I say ‘eventually’ as it looked for a time that he wouldn’t keep up his end of the bargain. He struggled, and slipping behind the Red Bulls at least – which would put the drivers’ title destination back into his team mate’s hands – appeared a possibility.
But if Nico can be counted on for anything it is leaping to his feet and landing a hook after all thought him down and out. And a superb late qualifying lap to seize second on the grid got his Mexican show back on the road. After finishing there too all of a sudden if he wins next time out, in Brazil, the world championship is officially all his. Lewis never has won there… Little wonder Nico beamed afterwards.
But for both their frolic mentioned was at the first turn. Again just like last week much hinged on the order after the start shake out and both took the consideration rather literally it seemed by straight-lining the opening complex and cutting across the grass. In both cases there seemed something wilful about it – both concluding understandably that losing places, the probable result of taking the corner properly, would ruin their day. Equally within the realms of what gets punished these days both were just about OK. And neither was penalised.
It didn’t however stop the usual claim and counter-claim from usual suspects, crying conspiracy and worse.
Rancour Among the Rest
We then had a sedate time of it until the final handful of laps, when Max Verstappen in third, Sebastian Vettel in fourth and Daniel Ricciardo in fifth converged on differing strategies. They provided late thrills on the way to somehow – on the road, anyway – finish in that order. Yet in another sad aspect of the modern sport it seems we cannot have frenzied on-track battles without severe recrimination (including some renewed at Lewis’s incident which a few reckoned had parallels).
We had all three protagonists pointing fingers at, at least, one other person. And in another regrettable part of the modern sport their order was shuffled post hoc by two successive strokes of the stewards’ pen reflecting two particular incidents of contention. Max went down to fifth then back up to fourth; Seb to third then down to fifth; and Danny Ric was lifted gradually to the final podium slot. At least though, as one wag quipped, it’ll provide a future pub quiz question about which drivers finished in third, fourth and fifth in the same Grand Prix…
It rather summed things up, in a round that – despite the wonderful Mexican welcome as usual – seemed well left in a mental recess. Well, perhaps so for everyone aside from Nico Rosberg.