Lewis Hamilton’s fastest lap raises questions at Mexican Grand Prix

Oliver Harden
Mercedes driver Lewis Hamilton studies his car in Mexico.

Lewis Hamilton studies his car in the Mercedes garage.

Lewis Hamilton’s blistering pace to set the fastest lap in the Mexican Grand Prix suggested there was way more pace in the Mercedes in Sunday’s race. 

That is the view of F1 commentator Peter Windsor, who believes Hamilton’s eye-catching final lap would have raised eyebrows among his Mercedes team.

After suffering only the second disqualification of his career in the United States for a technical breach, Hamilton enjoyed a strong race in Mexico by rising from sixth on the grid to finish second behind Max Verstappen’s dominant Red Bull.

Could Lewis Hamilton have gone faster in Mexico?

Hamilton lit up the timing screens on the very final tour by registering a 1:21.334s – three tenths faster than Verstappen’s previous benchmark on Lap 40 – to snatch the bonus point for fastest lap.

Former title-winning Williams team manager Windsor was left surprised by Hamilton’s sudden turn of speed, suggesting that he could have gone faster much earlier in his final stint.

Speaking via his YouTube race roundup, he said: “Lewis set the fastest lap [and] that will have irritated Max a bit because he always loves to set fastest lap and, at that point, he had it – and Lewis set it on the last lap.

“That brought a smile obviously to everybody’s face in the Mercedes garage – and certainly Lewis enjoyed that – but it was a weird thing.

“This is Lewis looking after the tyres and going a little bit slower than Max virtually everywhere, apart from one [lap] –  and on the last lap he does a 21.3!

“It’s a cliché to say: ‘Well, where did that come from?’ – but it has to be asked because I suppose you would say in the debrief afterwards when it’s all quiet: ‘21.3, Lewis! What were you doing [for the rest of the race]?’

“Of course, he would say: ‘Well, I wouldn’t have been able to do that 21.3 unless I’d been looking after the tyres the way I had in the previous 10-12 laps’ – and that probably is the correct answer.

“But it’s an interesting one, isn’t it, how quick he was? But then again, I suppose we don’t know how quick Max would have been if he’d had to respond to that 21.3. As it was, he had no chance because it was on the last lap of the race.

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“So it was a little bit of an unanswered question there [and] I suppose this is the way to put it: if Lewis had known that the tyres were going to last to the point where he could do a 21.3 on the last lap, how much quicker would he have driven – how much more would he have pushed the tyres – over the previous 12 laps?

“That’s an interesting question. Of course, he doesn’t know the answer [and] it’s purely hypothetical, because he never would know how long the tyres are going to last. It was always a question mark if those mediums were going to go away.

“Lewis finished second, nearly 14 seconds behind Max, but with fastest lap to his credit – and there were no issues in parc ferme!”

With just three rounds remaining in 2023, Hamilton is closing in on a second successive winless season having managed to take at least one victory in each of his first 15 years in F1 from 2007.

His last victory occurred at the penultimate round of the 2021 season in Saudi Arabia, seven days before being dethroned by Verstappen in highly controversial circumstances in Abu Dhabi.

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