Although both Mercedes got off to a good start, it paid off for Max Verstappen to start from third place: Taking advantage of both Mercedes’ windshields, he overtook both Mercedes on the outer corner with a very gritty overtaking.
However, the drama didn’t come until after Daniel Ricciardo rolled out Valtteri Bottas, who also lost his spot to Lewis Hamilton, out of third. The Australian broke his front wing and both had to enter the penalty area. The shot after the start caused two more casualties: Esteban Ocon made a dangerous sandwich and knocked Juki Konuda and Mick Schumacher out of the race almost simultaneously.
There were two big winners at the start: Antonio Giovinazzi in sixth, George Russell in ninth, improving fifth and seventh respectively, and we must also mention Nikita Mazepin, who came in 11th with the best start to his career so far. .
With the Haas and AlphaTauri clean, the safety car was inside for 4 laps, but the restart was well managed by Verstappen and he managed to get away from Hamilton, followed by Sergio Perez and Pierre Gasly in third and fourth.
We had to wait until lap 9 to see another action: Kimi Raikkonen envied Verstappen’s gentle curved pass and showed a similar maneuver for ninth against George Russell, which was later repeated by Fernando Alonso, knocking out the top scorer.
Hamilton started lagging behind Max Verstappen on lap 15: his defect increased from 3.6sec to 5.5 in two laps after the W12 started to overheat the rear tires.
As Hamilton started complaining about the tires, Sergio Perez said on the radio on lap 16 that his tires were just starting to work well, catching up to two seconds behind the seven-time world champion after his early camper ride – and he told Red Bull that they would be moved to Strategy B.
Perez was already 1.5 seconds behind Hamilton on lap 30, and Mercedes had to react: They brought out Hamilton for a bunch of new tough mixes, but they settled down a bit and stuck behind Charles Leclerc, who was preparing for his boxing stand. However, since the Monaco rider only completed one lap in front of Hamilton, Red Bull did not jump at the chance.
Verstappen went out on lap 33 to change wheels and comfortably returned to Lewis Hamilton, where he temporarily took the lead with Sergio Perez – becoming the first Mexican driver to lead the race on home soil.
It wasn’t long, on lap 40, when Perez distinguished himself on his solid tyres, so he had 30 laps to work 10secs on tires 10 laps smaller than Hamilton to finish second.
After the first lap, Ricciardo and Bottas couldn’t unravel on the track either, but not quite as Mercedes had imagined: Bottas was stuck behind the Australian. Ricciardo came out on lap 39 to change a wheel, and then Bottas’ lap, where he was able to permanently say goodbye to his scoring chances: they could only change his tires in 12 seconds, slipping back to 15th.
Meanwhile, Perez had a great time with the task at hand: he immediately ran the fastest lap of the race and was within 8 seconds of the British in a few laps.
Although Pete Bonnington told Hamilton on the radio that Perez would not catch him until the final laps, the Mexican met him much faster than expected to fight with him for second place: on lap 58 he was already within two seconds of the seven-time world champion. Comparison after Hamilton made a minor error in Sector 2.
Perez caught Hamilton 10 laps before the end of the race and was at a DRS distance compared to him, but in the turbulent atmosphere – which wasn’t facilitated by bluffing the midfielders either. Perez managed to attack Hamilton with the DRS for the last time on the last lap, but the Brits managed to hold on to second, and Perez had to content himself with his ability to finish third on the podium in his home race.
For Pierre Gasly, he provided a superb fourth place for AlphaTauri in a quiet race, while behind him were two Leclerc-Sainz-ranked Ferrari finishers – leaving his teammate Monaco on newer tires to see if he could overtake Gasly, but it was also unsuccessful.
Kimi Räikkönen benefited greatly from Ricciardo and Bottas not being able to catch up at the expected speed, as they finished an impressive eighth place in the final season of Formula 1 behind strong Sebastian Vettel.
Fernando Alonso finished ninth, while Lando Norris, who started from the end of the field, took just one point for McLaren.
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