MEXICO CITY (AP) — Max Verstappen split the Ferrari front row of Charles Leclerc and Carlos Sainz at the start to snatch the lead of the Formula One Mexico City Grand Prix by the first corner, then drove off to his record 16th victory of the season on Sunday.
Red Bull’s three-time season champion collected his third consecutive win at the Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez and broke his own season victories record set last year.
Verstappen started from third and won from the same spot as he did in 2021. Back then, he used the slingshot effect of the draft down the long starting straight to whip to the outside and pass two cars. This time, Verstappen’s quick bolt off the starting line allowed him to squeeze between the two Ferraris and into the lead.
He still had work to do. A hard crash by Haas driver Kevin Magnussen at the halfway point forced the race into a halt and a restart. Verstappen nailed that one as well and was never threatened for the checkered flag.
The Dutch driver’s 51st career win tied Alain Prost for fourth most in F1 history. Mercedes driver Lewis Hamilton leads with 103.
Hamilton finished second Sunday. Leclerc was third.
Leclerc had started on pole position for the second consecutive race but again failed to turn it into a win. In 22 career starts from pole, Leclerc has won just four times.
Home favorite Sergio Perez’s race was over quickly. The Mexican driver, who is fighting to hang on to second in the championship behind Verstappen, was taken out in the first corner when his car clipped tires with Leclerc and bounced high into the air.
The crackup silenced the massive crowd that had greeted Perez with thunderous cheers on every lap all weekend. Much of the crowd left after the crash. Most critically, it allowed Hamilton to close a 39-point gap to Perez to just 20 with three races left.
Perez hasn’t won since April and hasn’t been on the podium in the last five races.
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The Associated Press