Lewis Hamilton claimed his fourth FIA Formula One World Drivers’ Championship title with a ninth-placed finish in a Mexican Grand Prix won by Red Bull Racing’s Max Verstappen.
Mercedes driver Hamilton had to battle from the back of the field after an opening lap collision with title rival Sebastian Vettel dropped both men to the back of the field. Vettel, whose slim title chances rested on securing victory at the Autódromo Hermanos Rodríguez, managed to claw his way back to fourth place. However, with Hamilton slowly progressing to ninth place and too big a gap to overhaul to the drivers ahead, the Ferrari driver's hopes ended after Verstappen, second-placed Valtteri Bottas of Mercedes and third-placed Kimi Räikkönen crossed the line.
When the lights went out at the start, Vettel was pressured by Verstappen off the line and at the end of the long run to Turn 1 the Red Bull driver drew alongside the Ferrari driver and muscled his way past in Turn 2 to take the lead. There was minor contact between them as they went through, with Vettel losing part of his front wing. More damage was to come for the German, however, as Hamilton went around the outside to steal second.
In Turn 3 the left side of Vettel’s front wing collided with the rear right of Hamilton’s car. The result was a puncture for the Mercedes man and substantial front wing damage for Vettel. Both limped to the pits for repairs and rejoined at the back of the field.
At the front, Verstappen began to build a lead and by lap 14 he found himself 5.5 seconds clear of Valtteri Bottas who had inherited second after the Vettel/Hamilton incident. Esteban Ocon was third, the Force India driver having bypassed Kimi Räikkönen in the opening lap.
Carlos Sainz was the first to make a scheduled stop, the Renault driver pitting on lap two to take on soft tyres, with which he’d try to reach the flag. Red Bull Racing’s Daniel Ricciardo was the next into the pit lane on lap five, but for the Australian it was a complete stop. After taking a grid drop in the morning for an engine change, Ricciardo rose from his P16 starting position to P7. But his race was then ended by a suspected turbo failure.
At the back, Vettel was marching through the order and by lap 25 he was up to 11th place behind McLaren’s Fernando Alonso. Hamilton, though, was struggling, and after being lapped by race leader Verstappen the Briton complained that he couldn't get near Sainz up ahead in P18.
Hulkenberg was the next to exit the race. On lap 25 the German being told to stop the car, as it was unsafe. With a suspected ERS issue, Hulkenberg was told to exit down the nosecone and jump off.
On lap 32 Brendon Hartley pulled over at the side of the track with flames licking at the engine cover of his Toro Rosso. The halt, close to the side of the track, resulted in the Virtual Safety Car being deployed and that resulted in a flurry of pit stops, with Verstappen diving in from the lead to take on supersofts.
Behind him Räikkönen profited most, the Finn leapfrogging Ocon to claim third place. Behind them William’s Lance Stroll was now firth ahead of Force India’s Sergio Perez and Haas’ Kevin Magnussen. Magnussen’s hold on the place would be shortlived. Vettel had taken on ultrasoft tyres during his pit stop and he soon began setting fastest laps. He quickly reeled in the Dane and passed him with ease to claim seventh place.
There were however, 16 seconds to make up to the next target, Perez. Vettel closed quickly, to 7.5s by lap 45 but with the German needing second place to keep his championship hopes alive if Hamilton finished outside the points, and with almost 54 seconds to make up to second-placed Bottas it looked like the German’s title challenge was done.
Hamilton, though, was making his own steady progress and on lap 46 he passed Sauber’s Marcus Ericsson for 12th place and began to close the 7.1-second gap to Vandoorne. On lap 50, Vettel lunged down the inside into Turn 4 to pass Perez and looked to close the 3.3s gap to Lance Stroll and on lap 54 he eased dismissed the Canadian to take fifth place. Hamilton, meanwhile, had passed Vandoorne under DRS into Turn One to claim P11 and his team were advising him that at the pace he was going he was forecast to finish in P8.
Hamilton began to make that forecast come true by powering past Williams’ Felipe Massa on lap 57 to claim 10th place and a points finish. Up ahead Vettel passed Ocon to grab fourth but with 24 seconds to make up to get to third placed Räikkönen and a further 26 second gap to close to Bottas the German was fighting a losing battle. Told of the gaps he sighed “oh, mamma mia.”
Sainz, meanwhile, retired from the race, meaning that four of the six Renault-powered cars in the race had exited by lap 62. Just leader Verstappen and 13th-placed Gasly remained.
At the front the Dutch driver was in complete command, however, and not experiencing any mechanical concerns. With an 18s gap to Bottas it might have been expected that he would throttle back and control matters but Verstappen wanted more and on lap 64 he set a race record for the circuit with a lap of 1:18.892 and then widened the gap to over 20 seconds by the chequered flag.
Behind him Bottas held second ahead of Räikkönen, while Vettel’s brave charge ended in fourth place. Esteban Ocon scored his second fifth-placed finish of the year, while Lance Stroll delivered a good result for Williams with sixth place. Sergio Pérez was seventh in front his home crowd ahead of Haas’ Kevin Magnussen, while Lewis Hamilton finished ninth, enough to earn the Briton his fourth drivers’ title. The final point on offer went to McLaren’s Fernando Alonso.
2017 Mexican Grand Prix – Race
- Max Verstappen Red Bull TAG 1:36'26.550
- Valtteri Bottas Mercedes Mercedes 19.678
- Kimi Raikkonen Ferrari Ferrari 54.007
- Sebastian Vettel Ferrari Ferrari 70.078
- Esteban Ocon Force India Mercedes 1 lap
- Lance Stroll Williams Mercedes 1 lap
- Sergio Perez Force India Mercedes 1 lap
- Kevin Magnussen Haas Ferrari 1 lap
- Lewis Hamilton Mercedes Mercedes 1 lap
- Fernando Alonso McLaren Honda 1 lap
- Felipe Massa Williams Mercedes 1 lap
- Stoffel Vandoorne McLaren Honda 1 lap
- Pierre Gasly Toro Rosso Renault 1 lap
- Pascal Wehrlein Sauber Ferrari 2 laps
- Romain Grosjean Haas Ferrari 2 laps
Carlos Sainz Renault Renault
Marcus Ericsson Sauber Ferrari
Brendon Hartley Toro Rosso Renault
Nico Hulkenberg Renault Renault
Daniel Ricciardo Red Bull TAG
British-based satellite broadcaster Sky is mulling over a 4.5 billion (6.8 billion, 6.06 billion euros) bid to take a controlling stake in Formula One, potentially trumping a Qatari-backed consortium's plan to seize control of the sport, the Sunday Times reported. Wednesday saw the Financial Times report that the owner of the Miami Dolphins NFL team was to join up with Qatar in a bid to take over Formula One.
Sports mogul Stephen Ross and his RSE Ventures, backed by Qatar Sports Investments, initially hope to buy 35.5 percent of the holding company that owns F1 from London-based private equity firm CVC Capital and ultimately buy the entire stake, the paper reported. However, the Sunday Times citing City of London "sources" said the RSE-Qatari team was just one of several buyers in contact with CVC. The newspaper said Sky and Liberty Global, the cable conglomerate set up by the American billionaire John Malone which is the broadcaster's potential partner in any bid for Formula One, had held informal talks with CVC.
The Canadian fashion tycoon Lawrence Stroll, who helped to build the Tommy Hilfiger and Michael Kors brands, has also been linked with a bid. CVC owns a 35.5 percent stake in F1 but controls the sport because its shares have special voting rights. The private equity giant first bought into the sport in 2006, paying 1.2bn to take control from a group of shareholders, including F1 chief executive Bernie Ecclestone -- who remains a key figure in the sport -- and the banks JP Morgan, Lehman Brothers and Bayerische Landesbank. Formula One is viewed as one of the most valuable prizes in global broadcasting.
The Sunday Times said Pay-TV companies were paying ever-larger sums to secure live sports rights, in an attempt to prevent subscribers defecting to online rivals such as Netflix. Sky regards Formula One as an increasingly important part of its sports coverage, especially in Britain where rival a broadcaster has loosened its grip on top-flight Premier League and European football. However, Grand Prix team chiefs have warned that the sport is close to a crisis as grandstand seats remain increasingly unoccupied and television-viewing figures fall, with races increasingly dominated by a handful of drivers.
Nico Rosberg claimed his third Grand Prix win of the season at the Red Bull Ring after beating Lewis Hamilton away from the startline to reduce the championship lead to 10 points. Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel was never in the hunt for victory, and lost a dead-cert podium finish with another tardy pitstop. He battled back on terms with Williams's Felipe Massa, but couldn't find a way past in the closing stages.
Hamilton was already second when he received a 5 second penalty on time for crossing the white line at the pitlane exit. Rosberg pushed past Hamilton off the startline, with Vettel covering Massa for third with the pair getting very close to colliding on the run to Turn 1. Hamilton tailed Rosberg while exiting Turn 1, and drew alongside into Turn 2 but locked up, so Nico covered him. Hamilton made his move at Turn 3 also, with a similar outcome. Fernando Alonso’s McLaren became stuck on top of the nose of Kimi Raikkonen’s Ferrari after a big accident on the exit of Turn 3, taking Alonso with him into the barrier.
Alonso’s sidepod got dangerous close to Kimi’s head and hands on the steering wheel but thankfully both were unhurt.
“I got some wheelspin and it suddenly went left,” reported Raikkonen.
Grosjean suffered a gearbox problem that caused him to run off track momentarily and retired, and Sainz was also forced out. Ericsson had an odd moment when his Sauber cut-out exiting the final corner on lap 22, but managed to restart his electronics and continue. McLaren had another double retirement, as Jenson Button was forced out soon after the safety car restart. “It’s been a pretty bad weekend for all of us,” rued Button.
Will Stevens was a first-lap retirement with an oil leak.
Michelin has decided after weeks of deliberation to apply for the FIA tender opened last month. The company's motorsport boss Pascal Couasnon said the company has taken the decision because it is unhappy about the direction F1 has taken with its tyres.
“What we are doing with this official application is the next step after all the things we have suggested recently,” he said in an interview with Motorsport.com “We're a bit disappointed to see where the technology lies – at least, the way tyres are represented in F1. We've been talking about this for a while. We made some proposals in F1 already but couldn't get the chance to go really far into it two or three years ago. Now that there is a well-established process, we were able to formulate an offer with our ideas.
“Indeed, one of the extremely important things is that in addition to providing a show with technology and tyres that correspond to something, we would like to get closer to everyday life. We want this technology that would be put in the tyres to reach the high-end road car products. It would be something.”
The FIA deadline for the tender is on June 17 and after saying at Le Mans that it was unsure about whether or not to pursue an F1 return, Michelin’s board has now decided to go ahead with a push to win the contract. Doing so will mean that Pirelli, F1's current supplier, faces potential competition for the tender. A final decision will be taken after the FIA has spent a month deliberating technical and safety criteria of canditates.
As of now it's unsure whether or not there will be further competition from other tyre companies who may submit applications to join the process.
Imola has begun discussions with Formula 1 supremo Bernie Ecclestone to save the Italian Grand Prix if Monza is unable to secure a fresh contract for 2017. Imola has not hosted an F1 race since it held the San Marino Grand Prix in 2006, prior to a circuit revamp that took place in 2007. Daniele Manca, the city's mayor, met with F1 supremo Ecclestone in London to discuss the possibility of the track getting a grand prix back. Monza officials met with Ecclestone in Monaco last month to try to push forward a deal, but it has become clear that discussions will not resume until the necessary finances are in place. Several times Ecclestone made it clear that he wants Monza paying the same as other Eurioean venues to host the race after its current contract expires next year.
Fans have been open about the criticism with potentially losing the Italian Grand Prix and is a driving force behind why Imola chiefs are now looking to push for their own solution to keep the country on the F1 list. Uberto Selvatico Estense, President of Formula Imola, and Stefano Manara, president of CON.AMI were also present in the meeting with Ecclestone.
In an interview with Motorsport.com, Manca said: "We wanted to show Ecclestone how willing Imola was to get Formula 1 back, but also do our part to keep the grand prix in Italy. We presented our plan to relaunch the circuit, outline the investments we have made and what we plan to do in the coming years with our infrastructure."
Manca claimed that Ecclestone was open to ideas of a 2017 return despite Imola not coming anywhere near being able to put a fresh F1 deal together recently.
"Bernie told us that he never wanted to go away from Imola and he must remember that Enzo Ferrari originally asked him to organise a grand prix on our circuit. There are issues to sort out and one factor is obviously the economy. But Ecclestone has agreed to check the timeframe and conditions under which it would be possible to get F1 back to Imola. The target is 2017."
Goodyear won't be submiting a tender for the new Formula One contract from 2017. The company as not absolutely confirmed the decision but sources believe that the company have made the decision to concentrate on its current commitments in NASCAR. The Group also races in LMP2, GT, BTCC and Moto 2 though its Dunlop brand. Darren Wells, President of The Goodyear Tire & Rubber Company’s Europe, Middle East and Africa business unit, would not confirm a decision either way while speaking to Motorsport.com.
“Motorsport is core to the motorsport brand and business. Whenever there is a motorsport opportunity we will spend time thinking about it but we have to be selective and make sure we are prepared," Wells said. "I expect, one way or another that you will find out next week.”
Wells was visiting the Le Mans 24 Hours where Dunlop is competing in the LMP2 and LMGTE Am class. It's believed that Goodyear remains in a state of readiness for the next tender for the Formula One contract after the current process but an official communication will come in the last week of June. Goodyear withdrew from F1 at the end of 1997 with 361 Grand Prix wins, 25 drivers' crown 26 manufacturers' title.