Mexico Grand Prix: Lewis Hamilton left surprised by Valtteri Bottas vs Max Verstappen


Lewis Hamilton has expressed his surprise at Max Verstappen being afforded the room to pull off his race-winning swoop around the outside of turn one by Valtteri Bottas at the Mexico Grand Prix on Sunday.

The Silver Arrows held the upper hand at lights out in Mexico but that lasted for all of around 20 seconds as Verstappen launched from third place, picked up the tow behind Bottas and then shifted left to brake later than the Finn and Hamilton into the first turn.

Indeed, Mercedes' woe was compounded as Bottas was sent spinning by McLaren driver Daniel Ricciardo and from there Max ran away and hid in his Red Bull, with Hamilton instead tasked with keeping Sergio Perez at bay in front of the Mexican's vibrant, noisy home crowd.

The Briton, of course, managed to hold onto the second place that he had started from but he would have surely expected the start to have gone a little better, given that the Mercs could have perhaps controlled the field into the first corner.

Indeed, Hamilton expressed his surprise that, whilst he covered the inside line heading into turn one, Bottas didn't do the same to the same extent on the outside, allowing Verstappen to pull off a fine double overtake into the first braking zone:

"I had envisaged it differently, naturally, in the sense that maybe Valtteri had got a better start and I would have tried to get into his tow," Hamilton explained.

"But I was alongside him which was good, and then I was just covering my side of the track trying to make sure that no-one could come up the inside.

"So I was trying to keep whichever Red Bull I could see in my mirror behind, and I thought Valtteri would be doing the same.

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"But obviously, he left the door open for Max, and Max was on the racing line so did a mega job braking into Turn 1.

"Because I was on the inside on the dirt, there was no hope for me."

Ultimately, it's easy to talk about a start before and after it happens but during it, things happen so quickly and Verstappen was just that little bit sharper than Bottas to allow himself to get into a spot where he could seize first place.

It may have been academic in the end, of course, as Verstappen's pace was so strong Hamilton felt eventually he'd have been overtaken anyway but the Briton would have at least liked to have been able to block his title rival's path for longer than was the case.

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