Mexico City Grand Prix Talking Points: Advance Australia Fair, while Verstappen tastes sweet 16
The second part of the final Formula One triple header is done with as we leave Mexico with more records broken and some smiles for Aussie F1 fans.
There was also a sterling drive from an orange car and more pressure put on a certain driver who was trying to put on a show for his home race.
That means that there is always plenty to talk about, as you are about to find out in the latest edition of my F1 talking points.
Sweet 16 for Verstappen
16 wins in a season. What an incredible achievement. Max Verstappen, take a bow.
Sure it was never going to be a surprise that he would reach that target given the form he has been in this season, but it is still an almost unfathomable number to reach in a single season for wins.
To put that into perspective, 20 years ago in 2003 if Verstappen had won 16 races, he would have won every single race that year. Now we have more races on the calendar, so it is even more of an extraordinary achievement.
Also adding weight to his feat is the fact that he has won as many races this season as Stirling Moss did in his entire career, and more than the likes of Jack Brabham, Jenson Button, Graham Hill and Emerson Fittipaldi – all former World Champions.
I will also add that there are still three races to go this year, meaning he could end his season tally with 19 race wins in a single year.
No matter what you think of his dominance, these are remarkable stats that simply cannot go unacknowledged.
Nothing can stop Norris
After a hot run of four consecutive podiums, and six in the last ten races, the most in-form driver was by far Lando Norris.
However, that all looked to come to an end in Mexico after failing to make it out of Q1 and languishing back in 17th on the grid for the race.
From there though Norris put on a clinic, making his way through the field to storm to an impressive fifth place, and secure yet another ‘driver of the day’ award by fans.
It was a shame to see his issues during qualifying to prevent what would have easily been another podium for the popular British driver and stop what could have even been a challenge for Verstappen in the race.
One thing is for sure, nothing can seemingly stop him, making that win drought even harder to bear for his fans.
It will come, do not worry about that.
Ferrari falters again – but it is not all bad news
Another race, another Leclerc pole, another non-win. That is now ten consecutive races for Charles without converting his favourite place on the grid into a victory.
That is definitely a bitter pill to swallow for Ferrari fans, especially given the surprise nature in which the team not only took the pole on Saturday but locked out the front row with Carlos Sainz in second.
But despite not taking the chocolates on race day, it is still not all doom and gloom for the Scuderia. There are definitely positive signs to take from the performance and the continuity, which shows the team should easily be in a stronger position next year.
And as of now, it looks very likely the only team to beat Red Bull in 2023 will be Ferrari – something that will very much irk not only the Austrian team, but their other rivals for second in the top constructor in Mercedes, Aston Martin and McLaren.
Ferrari fans are very used to the “there’s always next year” scenario, but if things improve even just a little bit from the consistency that has come in the last few races, it perhaps might finally come true in 2024.
Perez’s ice is nearly completely gone
The thin ice around Sergio Perez is very much nearly gone.
After such a strong start to the year, the Mexican has very much fallen deep into the second-seat Red Bull driver trap that has sadly cursed whoever has sat in it since Daniel Ricciardo left the team at the end of 2018.
It is a shame for Perez, who clearly had the best chance of winning his home race he ever has had in perhaps the greatest F1 car ever built. His mentality of ‘all or nothing’ at the start in order to achieve that very much could have gone the complete opposite way and this would be a very different entry. However it was not, it is not, and we find ourselves constantly talking about his future in the team and the sport in general.
There is no doubting his passion for the sport and his unwavering desire to improve to save his seat. Unfortunately when you are getting out-qualified by the guy who is breathing down your neck in a far weaker car, then that really does not make your passion enough to hold on much longer.
Three races remain to see if he can salvage his seat. It has happened before. For the thousands of fans who turned out to see him over the weekend and hope to see him return next season, let us hope he is able to do so.
Double Aussie delight
For the first time since the 2013 Brazilian Grand Prix, Australia had two drivers finish in the points at a Formula One Race. On that day, Mark Webber in his final race finished second, with Daniel Ricciardo in only his third F1 season, finishing 10th.
In Mexico, Ricciardo was seventh, one spot ahead of the man who is now managed by Webber, Oscar Piastri.
It was a great moment for Australian F1 fans, some of whom can still remember the dark pre-Webber days when our F1 fandom was fuelled by no Aussie drivers on the grid for nearly a decade.
It was also an incredibly important moment for Ricciardo, who shone all across the weekend. He was fourth in qualifying and then some incredibly strong driving on race day nearly saw him steal sixth from the far superior Mercedes of George Russell at the death. It was a race all Ricciardo fans had been hoping for since his return and one that has definitely put Red Bull (and Sergio Perez) on notice.
Never in F1 history have two Aussie drivers stood on the podium together. If results like this can continue to come and Ricciardo gets that promotion, it may come to fruition very soon.
Round 19 F1 team power rankings: The McLaren momentum stalls, then rises
With only a few rounds to go, the lower tiers of the F1 team power rankings podium continue to get heated. Mercedes had a strong race, as did Ferrari, and McLaren recovered to have one too, making this week a particularly hard one to digest. But we are going to give it a crack as we always do in our post-race power rankings segment.
Quick disclaimer as always. With any power rankings, these are subjective and based purely on opinion mixed with results.
Are these 100 per cent accurate? Inside my mind, yes. Outside of it, no. But it is a nice way to spark some discussion, showcase some form and allow a conversation that brings F1 fans closer together – and maybe also further apart at the same time.
5. Alpine (-)
Points for the team, but worrying that they seem to be dropping back further from the three teams battling for second in each race.
4. McLaren (-1)
May be harsh to drop them a place given the form of Lando Norris in the race, but overall they were behind both Ferrari and Mercedes all weekend. Still, points are what they need to extend their gap ahead of Aston Martin.
3. Ferrari (+1)
Another pole position and a great front-row lockout were not able to be turned into anything more, but third and fourth is still a pretty solid result which they’ll gladly take.
2. Mercedes (-)
Lewis Hamilton drove another stellar race for another second place, and this time he got to keep it. George Russell nearly was overtaken by an AlphaTauri which was slightly worrying but more consistent points for the team to keep them in second place in the Championship.
1. Red Bull (-)
Red Bull has won more races in 2023 than BRM or Cooper did in their entire time in Formula 1. Incredible.
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Round 19 F1 driver power rankings: Hamilton holding off the pack
Team rankings are done, now we will get into the drivers. It is once again another tight and tricky scenario behind number one, making it another interesting edition for this article.
As always, disclaimer time. With any power rankings, these are subjective and based purely on opinion mixed with results.
To make it extra interesting on the drivers front, rather than rank all 20 drivers on the grid, I have made it more streamlined and easier by simply bringing the top five drivers.
5. Carlos Sainz (+1)
Second on Saturday, fourth on Sunday. Does not sound great on paper, but did all he could to achieve that.
4. Charles Leclerc (-)
You have to feel for Leclerc. Once again a pole, once again no win from it. However, another podium is a good result for him and the team as they hope to real in Mercedes.
3. Lando Norris (-)
An epic drive from Norris to finish fifth. Would have easily been on the podium had it not been for a poor Saturday.
2. Lewis Hamilton (-)
Hamilton is in some form, and thankfully this weekend he was able to keep his podium as proof of it. A great drive by the seven-time Champion.
1. Max Verstappen (-)
One more win from Verstappen this season and he will match the number of years he was when he made his F1 debut in 2015. There is a fun fact you will not forget.
What do you think of these rankings? Do you agree with the positions? Let me know what you think in the comments below.