Max: Bottas had to leave me space at Turn 1

Jamie Woodhouse
Max Verstappen, Red Bull, celebrates victory in Mexico. November 2021.

Max Verstappen, Red Bull, fist clenched, celebrates victory at the Mexican Grand Prix. November 2021.

Max Verstappen was not surprised by how much space he had to go around Mercedes’ Valtteri Bottas at the Mexican GP start.

Mercedes locked out the front row in Mexico, but it was the pre-qualifying favourite Verstappen who picked off both Black Arrows into the opening corner, going on to win comfortably from there.

Mercedes boss Toto Wolff was left far from pleased with his drivers, claiming they parted the sea to allow Verstappen into the lead.

But Verstappen did not feel that the room which opened up was excessive, stating that a car’s width must be left.

“Well you have to leave a car’s width anyway, so there was not much they could do,” he told Sky F1.

“They were already side-by-side and I just went three-wide.

“I knew the start was going to be really important and we went three-wide towards Turn 1 and it was all about who was going to brake the latest.

“So I went around the outside and I got into the lead, and that basically made my race because after that I could just do my own pace and control it from there.”

Verstappen’s team-mate Sergio Perez harried Hamilton for P2, but ultimately settled for a solid P3 finish at his home race.

Verstappen acknowledges Perez’s improvement in recent rounds, and was delighted to see his team-mate join him on the podium and celebrate in front of the home crowd.

“Checo the last few races has really picked it up and he’s there,” said Verstappen.

“He was of course pressuring Lewis as well towards the end, and it is really good to have both cars on the podium.

“And especially for Checo here at his home grand prix, that was incredible to see.”

Mercedes’ surprise qualifying form was turned into a mere blip by Red Bull on Sunday, and Verstappen confirmed that it was indeed the only low of the weekend, one which very much ended on a high.

“Friday was good, Saturday morning was good, qualifying was terrible, and then in the race everything was normal again,” he stated.


Verstappen now leads the Drivers’ Championship by 19 points over Hamilton, and only four rounds remain.

But he is not even beginning to dream about that title, instead remaining focused on the next round in Brazil, where he is eyeing extra points with sprint qualifying set for a third outing.

Asked when he will start to feel like he has one hand on the trophy, Verstappen replied: “I don’t think like that, we try again in Brazil, try to score the same amount of points or even a bit more with the sprint race, and try to stay in the lead even more.

“That is the goal every single weekend and I don’t start dreaming about these kind of things, we have to fight all the way through to Abu Dhabi.”


Max Verstappen can taste the championship

The Dutchman had the race wrapped up from the first corner, and Lewis Hamilton could do nothing about it.