It’s been a busy old week with F1 jumping straight from the Tex to the Mex. The show rolled into the Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez for the anticipated title decider, duly won by Lewis Hamilton – albeit in slightly bizarre fashion. But who would win that other coveted prize? You know, Top Chilli Dog? Would it be the most successful British driver of all time? Valiant Vettel after yet another superb recovery drive? Someone new?
After much careful deliberation, I can reveal the champ chihuahua award goes to…
You just knew Max was going to be in the mix in Mex! He was having one of those weekends when everything was going right. He had the momentum from two brilliant drives in the previous races. He blitzed the Free Practice sessions, had a great car underneath him (Red Bull continuing its welcome upward performance trajectory – on Verstappen’s car at least) and he just missed getting his first ever pole position by a ‘smidge’ (technical term). Sandwiched between the two championship contenders on the grid, the smart money was on Max getting the jump on Vettel off the start line. And so it came to pass – literally.
The youngster showed yet again why he has all the hallmarks of a world champion in waiting. He was simply sublime at the start, braving it around the outside (where else?) of pole sitter Vettel, judging his braking to perfection and basically showing everyone around him who’s boss. Hamilton had a momentary sniff at the lead too but Max was having none of it. And thanks to Lewis’ and Seb’s third corner mishap, Verstappen shot off into the distance never to be troubled again.
It may sound like plain sailing, but it takes some doing to finish 20 seconds ahead of Mercedes’ Valtteri Bottas and almost a minute clear of Raikkonen’s Ferrari. Those cars are seriously quick, but no-one had an answer for our Max. It was an awesome display of dominance which I’m sure we will see many more times in the future.
It appears he didn’t need to try very hard either. Asked by the team to slow down a tad and just match the pace of second place man Bottas (why bust a gut if you don’t have to?), the Dutchman thought he was obliging only to be told over the radio he had done an identical lap time to his previous one. When asked to ease off again, Max replied with a casual ‘I’m very sorry’ and a cheeky little chuckle. Going slower is clearly not in the lad’s DNA. Great news for us fans!
Max’s radio communication was a treat throughout the race, demonstrating his capacity to race hard, be aware of what’s happening around him but still have the head space to calmly control everything from the front. His perfect start prompted the chilled response of ‘Simply, simply lovely.’ I’ll second that Max. Congratulations on a hat trick of Top Dog awards. Now give someone else a go!
Tequila shots all round
I’ll admit this week’s choice was a tricky one. There were so many contenders for different reasons. Vettel and Hamilton put on gutsy displays, regaining multiple positions on this notoriously difficult overtaking track. Hamilton’s fourth world championship is a phenomenal achievement and thoroughly well deserved.
Badger was also impressed with several of the midfield boys too. Ocon, Stroll and Magnussen had terrific races as did Hulkenburg and Ericsson before the mechanical gremlins struck. But special mention (and a double tequila shot) must go to our old friend Fernando Alonso. He defended like a demon all race long – he wanted points and he wanted them bad. His sparring with old adversary, Hamilton, was an absolute joy to watch; two world champions and pure racers going at it hammer(time) and tongs. Well done to all you deputy dogs!
Both championships might be done and dusted, but it’s still all to play for in the Top Dog stakes. Join Badger GP for all the goings-on in the penultimate round in Brazil. See you soon.