Lewis Hamilton moved to within touching distance of his sixth Formula 1 world championship by scoring his 10th victory of the season in Sunday's Mexican Grand Prix, perfecting his one-stop strategy to defeat Ferrari rival Sebastian Vettel.

Hamilton recovered from a poor start that saw him go on the grass on the opening lap to cross the line 1.7 seconds clear of Vettel, having got the undercut on the Ferrari driver with an early switch from Medium to Hard tyres, gaining a track advantage that he would not relinquish.

While Hamilton was unable to seal the title on Sunday in Mexico after failing to gain the 14 points required on Mercedes teammate Valtteri Bottas, who finished third, the Briton needs just four points in the remaining three races to seal the title, making his coronation likely in Austin next Sunday.

Ferrari had managed to maintain its one-two from the starting grid through the opening stages of the race after opting against using tactics between pole-sitter Charles Leclerc and Vettel, but the duo were unable to pull a gap over the rest of the field as they tried to conserve their tyres and keep strategy in mind.

Alexander Albon was able to jump up to third early on after a scrap between Hamilton and Max Verstappen caused both drivers to run onto the grass and lose ground. Verstappen dropped as far back as ninth on the first lap before clawing back some places, only to suffer an early puncture when trying to overtake Valtteri Bottas, dropping him to the rear of the field.

Albon was tasked with leading Red Bull’s charge as a result, with the Anglo-Thai driver being the first of the lead runners to pit at the end of Lap 14. Albon committed to a two-stop strategy by taking another set of Mediums, prompting Ferrari to follow suit one lap later with Leclerc and split its strategies by keeping new leader Vettel out longer, leaning toward a one-stop.

Mercedes also favoured a one-stop strategy with its drivers, and attempted to get the undercut on race leader Vettel by bringing Hamilton in on Lap 23. Ferrari told Vettel to prepare to pit, only for the German driver to ask to stay out and let Hamilton go, giving up track position in order to have fresher tyres for the final stint.

Hamilton expressed concern that he had pitted too early a number of times over team radio, but was told to keep his head down and focus on managing his tyres as the three groups – Hamilton on an early one-stop; Vettel and Bottas on later one-stops; and Leclerc and Albon on two-stops – began to converge on-track.

After seeing Bottas pit from second on Lap 36, Vettel was brought in one lap later for a set of Hards, emerging behind both Hamilton and Albon. Once Albon had come in for a second time, Vettel was released in pursuit of Hamilton, reducing the gap to less than two seconds with 20 laps to go.

But the gap soon stabilised as Hamilton found more and more time on his Hard tyres, leaving Vettel to look in his mirrors as both Bottas and the charging Leclerc – who had completed his second stop, losing a few seconds due to a slow right-rear attachment – began to close in entering the final 10 laps of the race.

Ferrari continued to wait for Hamilton's tyres to drop off, but the Italian team was to be left disappointed as the Mercedes driver continued to set personal best times throughout the closing stages, keeping the gap to Vettel stable.

Hamilton took the chequered flag after 71 laps to record his 10th win of the season, as well as scooping his 100th podium finish for Mercedes and the manufacturer's 100th win as a constructor in the process.

Vettel followed 1.7 seconds behind, with Bottas completing the podium in third, doing enough to keep the title race alive for one more race.

Leclerc was left fourth on his two-stop strategy ahead of Albon in fifth, while Verstappen clawed his way back to sixth place after going 66 laps on his set of Hard tyres.

Home favourite Sergio Perez won the midfield battle for Racing Point in seventh, fending off a charging Daniel Ricciardo in the closing stages to leave the Renault driver to settle for eighth.

Daniil Kvyat took ninth place for Toro Rosso, but is under investigation after appearing to punt Renault's Nico Hulkenberg into the wall on the final lap when trying to make a pass. Hulkenberg limped across the line without a rear wing in 11th place, having also lost a position to Kvyat's teammate, Pierre Gasly.

Lance Stroll finished 12th for Racing Point ahead of Carlos Sainz, who struggled on the Hard tyres after an early stop, causing him to drop back to 13th. McLaren teammate Lando Norris retired after a problem at his first pit stop caused him to be released without all four wheels attached, dropping him to the back of the field.

Antonio Giovinazzi finished 14th ahead of Kevin Magnussen, while George Russell took 16th for Williams, beating Haas driver Romain Grosjean in P17. Robert Kubica claimed 18th for Williams as the last classified finisher, with Kimi Raikkonen being the only retiree alongside Norris.

 

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