Hamilton keeps title hopes alive with Mexico win

© XPB 

Lewis Hamilton kept his title hopes alive with victory ahead of Nico Rosberg in the Mexican Grand Prix.

In a largely uneventful race, Hamilton held onto the lead despite making a mistake at the start and was never seriously threatened by his Mercedes team-mate. Rosberg had his mirrors full of Max Verstappen's Red Bull for the majority of the race but repelled the only serious attack to secure second place.

The result cuts Rosberg's championship lead to 19 points but means he will be champion of he wins the Brazilian Grand Prix, regardless of what Hamilton does.

Verstappen added excitement against Rosberg, with one of the race's few highlights being the 19-year-old's attempt to overtake at Turn 3 with 20 laps remaining. Having followed Rosberg for most of the afternoon - with the gap sitting at 1.5s for a number of laps - Verstappen took advantage of uncertainty behind backmarkers to make a lunge up the inside of Turn 4 but couldn't stop his car in time and slid wide as Rosberg retook the position.

It was an incident which allowed Rosberg to break away from the Red Bull and Verstappen started to fade in the closing laps having completed a final stint of 59 laps on medium tyres, and Sebastian Vettel closed in rapidly. Verstappen ran wide with four laps to go as Vettel attacked at Turn 1, but the Red Bull cut Turn 2 to retain the place and was handed a five-second time penalty after the race.

With Verstappen not yielding, an angry Vettel was backed into Daniel Ricciardo but defended robustly - and spectacularly as both drivers locked brakes - into Turn 4 and just held off the second Red Bull to cross the line fourth ahead of Ricciardo. Vettel wagged his finger at Verstappen as he crossed the line and was then promoted to third by the post-race penalty.

However the contact between the two former Red Bull team-mates was investigated after the race and three hours after the chequered flag fell Vettel was handed a 10-second time penalty for moving under braking. Having originally stood on the podium, Vettel dropped two places with Ricciardo promoted to third.

With Vettel's penalty demoting him to fifth behind Ricciardo - who two-stopped with a late run on softs to challenge for the podium - and Verstappen, the German finished 22 seconds clear of Kimi Raikkonen who took sixth after two-stopping. Raikkonen needed a late move to get past Nico Hulkenberg at Turn 4, with the Ferrari going round the outside and Hulkenberg spinning but rejoining with enough margin to finish seventh.

It proved a crucial move as the Williams pair of Valtteri Bottas and Felipe Massa were eighth and ninth, one position ahead of home favourite Sergio Perez who shadowed Massa throughout the race.

All of the action bookended a dull middle part of the race, with the first lap seeing controversy and contact. Hamilton locked up heavily at Turn 1 and opted to run straight on, cutting across the grass at Turn 2 and rejoining on the exit of Turn 3 with a large lead. Hamilton may well have been penalised but for a collision further back which required the safety car.

Rosberg and Verstappen touched wheels at Turn 1 as Verstappen attacked on the inside, with Rosberg also cutting Turn 2 to retain his place. It was the second corner which saw more meaningful contact in the midfield, however, with Esteban Gutierrez squeezed between Pascal Wehrlein and Marcus Ericsson. A slight touch from the Haas on the Manor saw Wehrlein pitched to the left and hit the rear of the Sauber, with both stopping on the exit of Turn 2. Wehrlein retired but Ericsson limped back to the pits for a new front wing and a set of medium tyres which he would run to the end of the race with an impressive stint to 11th place.

The late excitement came following a largely drama-free affair as most teams one-stopped with degradation low on the medium tyre, highlighted by Ericsson's stint.

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Pos Driver Team Gap Stops
01 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 71 laps - 1h40m31.402s 1
02 Nico Rosberg Mercedes +8.354 1
03 Sebastian Vettel Ferrari +17.313 1
04 Daniel Ricciardo Red Bull +20.858 2
05 Max Verstappen Red Bull +21.323 1
06 Kimi Raikkonen Ferrari +49.376 2
07 Nico Hulkenberg Force India +58.891 1
08 Valtteri Bottas Williams +65.612 1
09 Felipe Massa Williams +76.206 1
10 Sergio Perez Force India +76.798 1
11 Marcus Ericsson Sauber +1 lap 1
12 Jenson Button McLaren +1 lap 1
13 Fernando Alonso McLaren +1 lap 2
14 Jolyon Palmer Renault +1 lap 1
15 Felipe Nasr Sauber +1 lap 1
16 Carlos Sainz Toro Rosso +1 lap 1
17 Kevin Magnussen Renault +1 lap 2
18 Daniil Kvyat Toro Rosso +1 lap 2
19 Esteban Gutierrez Haas +1 lap 2
20 Romain Grosjean Haas +1 lap 2
21 Esteban Ocon Manor +2 laps 1
22 Pascal Wehrlein Manor DNF 0