For those of you that don’t know, the cactus used to brew Mexico’s finest firewater is the Blue Agave. It’s not a drink I touch these days.
Experience has shown me that its initial benign effect is just a ruse to suck me in and convince me it’s safe to drink another, then another, and then another. That is until that feeling of “nothing to see here” is replaced by the freight train that appears cartoonlike out of nowhere and runs me over.
This is then followed by temporal time displacement where I discover a large chunk of my life has passed but I don’t recall how.
This must have been the feeling for many of the teams at the la Ciudad de Mexico last weekend as the route to releasing performance seemed to be a mystery, wrapped up in an enigma, shrouded in tire smoke, apart from Red Bull Racing that is, who came home with the goodies and a generous settlement for their cost cap breach.
The only oil on the Red Bull pit box floor was Sky News in particular, Ted Kravitz casting repeated aspersions Red Bull had robbed the 2021 Championship from Lewis Hamilton in Abu Dhabi.
Their reaction was like the tequila cactus itself, blue and prickly. I can understand Max’s position here as he stole nothing but as a driver, he is the focus of social media vitriol. If there was any stealing to be had, it was ostensively by a now binned FIA official.
The lady doth protest too much
However, I find it a bit rich for Christian Horner to personally take umbrage. His team (which he heads up) broke the regulations in the 2021 period by exceeding the cost cap.
There is no (or should be no) “by a little” or a “by a lot” discussion. Where other Formula 1 regulations have a clear metric, you are either compliant or non-compliant. If you exceed the measurement (even by a nanogram or mm) then you’re disqualified. Simple.
To Horner, I say suck it up buttercup and think yourself lucky you got away with it (exceeding the budget cap that is). To Max I say, sorry it’s wrong and completely unjustified but welcome to F1 where opinions are like assholes – everyone has one.
Rightly or wrongly, it goes with the turf. To Ted, I say best fall on your sword and apologise or get that CV on LinkedIn. If you are a persona non grata with the World Champions, then you’re not much use to SKY.
Where did that come from?
If Mercedes could have had their way this season, all circuits would have been elevated to 2,000ft above sea level, but unfortunately for them, only Mexico could release the “Thin air” fairy to wave her magic wand and turn the W13 frog into a prince charming.
Last season the track was not a favourite for the Silver Arrows but this year, with the W13 possessing the aerodynamic trim of a brick, the low-density atmosphere gave welcome relief to its normally draggy profile.
To prove how pivotal this has been this season, George Russel and Lewis Hamilton went on to top the time sheets in FP2 and FP3. It did a robust job in qualifying too as Messrs Hamilton and Russel landed the 2nd and 3rd spot respectively.
Duh, it’s the mediums stupid!
The fact that Mercedes left their only real potential win this year on the table is already well-documented. However, Hamilton drove a superb race and demonstrated once again that “Boy Russell” is not ready for him just yet.
The seven-time World Champion showed him that there’s more to a race start than just sending it down the inside. Having given the race craft lesson, he (Hamilton) proceeded to pull away from both him and Perez to hang with Verstappen for the duration.
Another surprise appearance at the front was the Alfa Romeo of Valtteri Bottas, splitting the Ferraris of Carlos Sainz and Charles Leclerc respectively.
The team brought upgrades to Mexico, so I assume these were of the mechanical grip type as opposed to aero. Unfortunately, they could not convert the qualifying pace into a race performance. Much like their cousins…
Performance, performance wherefore art thou performance?
Apart from FP1, neither of the Ferraris seemed at ease at the Autódromo Hermanos Rodríguez with Carlos flying the flag as Charles Leclerc appeared to have sent his cat to race in his place.
Sadly, the team from Maranello reminded me of a top prize fighter who has competed in one bout too many and is starting to tire before the end of the round.
Only 40 points separate them from Mercedes in the Constructors’ Championship. Best not to tempt the racing fates, they have two weeks to get back in the gym and get focused!