Mexican Grand Prix 2017: What we learned from the race

Expected to be an out and out assault by Ferrari's Vettel, perhaps in a fading attempt to make something of 2017's lost chance, Mexico turned out to be Max's stage

It’s never a dull day with Max Verstappen beginning on the front row of a grand prix, is it? In clinching only the third win of his F1 career, Verstappen dominated the proceedings from lights out and ensured Hamilton had to fight it out in claiming a well-deserved fourth drivers’ title. 

But the Mexican Grand Prix that had it all – high-octane action, drama right at the start and heartbreak for Sebastian Vettel – taught us some valuable lessons from its 71-lap contest. 

So let us revisit the five insights that an action-packed race at Mexico unfurled on what eventually became Lewis Hamilton’s grand day

Esteban Ocon is surely the find of 2017

"Consistency is all right, but my heart is set on a podium finish", said Force India's Esteban Ocon in the aftermath of the 2017 Mexican GP.

In bringing home 10 valuable points for the Force India stable with a solid P5 in Mexico, Ocon continued the good form that has enabled the young  Frenchman to produce steady results at USA, Japan, Italy and, Azerbaijan.

On Sunday, Ocon made the most of the dramatic opening lap scenes at the Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez and held on to a comfortable P4, before the front of the pack underwent some dramatic changes in the final stages of the drive to the checkered flag.

But in showing good pace, exemplifying an ability to effectively manage his tyres, Esteban Ocon proved that he has got what it takes to be a consistent point scorer at the pinnacle of the sport.

Luck is not necessarily Nico Hulkenberg’s greatest strength

He has the pace, the attitude but perhaps not the greatest of fortunes out there in the slippery, nervy by-lanes of F1. 

Nico, who was holding onto a decent P4 until lap 32, had to concede his position and eventually the drive toward the end of the race owing to an engine failure with his Renault. 

Having already endured a painful season, a run that has been marred by 7 DNFs thus far, one would expect Nico, currently P11 in the drivers' standings, to collect as many points as possible from the rest of the races at Brazil's Interlagos and Abu Dhabi's Yas Marina Circuit. 

But the question that lingers is about Renault's engine reliability issues, and whether his car can provide the German with the much-needed stability in the last two races?

Vettel was arguably the biggest loser from the grand prix

With a major engine failure at Japan, coming right after a sour first lap collision with teammate Kimi Raikkonen and Max Verstappen of Red Bull in Singapore, life hasn’t been all that glorious for the four-time world champion Sebastian Vettel lately.

Adding insult to injury has been Lewis Hamilton, Vettel’s number one threat of the season, producing one great race after the other in the face of the German’s miserable last few races that have seen him endure a DNF each at Singapore and Japan.

But on Saturday, as Vettel pepped up the zing in those wheels by clocking up a blistering 1:16:488 to take pole, one saw a ray of hope for Sebastian, even if it was only a faint one to upset what had rather one-sidedly seemed Lewis’s title to lose in Mexico. 

But it wasn’t to be, as despite beginning Mexico’s terse challenge from a commanding P1, Vettel would quickly cede the place to Verstappen in a move that even though worked wonders for Red Bull and eventually Lewis, pushed the former world champion to the back of the grid. 

Not a man you’d see pose cheerfully with lost chances, the farthest that Ferrari’s car number 5 would go would be to fight from the back of the grid to finish with a fighting but eventually despairing P4.

Vettel lost the chance to win yet another grand prix even as he showed flashes of brilliance in passing Magnussen, Perez and, Stroll toward the closing stages of the grand prix. 

Max Verstappen is the biggest gainer in the final stages of the 2017 season

Not every grand prix is about a Vettel or Hamilton show, is it? Not when you have a certain Max Verstappen dominating the proceedings!

Sunday's super show turned out to be a spectacular outing for Verstappen even as it brought disconsolation for Ferrari's Sebastian Vettel on the one hand and wide-eyed smiles and celebrations for Mercedes' Lewis Hamilton on other.

In winning only his third race win, Max Verstappen, one of F1's most endearing and widely loved talents, led a thrilling 71-lap fight to the checkered flag, reigning supreme in a contest that according to pundits was set to produce a titanic duel between Vettel and season-winner Hamilton. 

Setting one fastest lap after another, everything about Verstappen's driving here in the intense heat of Mexico was hugely impressive as he left no chance for the other drivers on the grid to steal his thunder, moments after he surged past Vettel on a dramatic opening lap.

But what made Verstappen's race rather impressive was the margin by which he clinched his maiden triumph at Mexico. It isn't always that one wins a race by a margin as big as 20 seconds! But when you are someone of the calibre of 'Mad Max' just about anything is possible, isn't it?

Are we seeing a late resurgence by Kimi Raikkonen

Called laggard by Sergio Marchionne earlier on in the season and touted as somewhat too old to compete for podium finishes according to many F1 pundits, Kimi Raikkonen it seems, still has something to offer Ferrari and his fans no matter what critics might think of him.

In collecting his sixth podium finish of the season and his first at Mexico, Kimi held on to a well-deserved P3 in Mexico, even as he had to claw back several places since being overtaken by the likes of Perez and Ocon earlier on in the grand prix.

Even as Vettel, eventually finishing P4, came within the reach of third-placed Kimi Raikkonen, the threat of having to obey team orders and thus to let the German pass him in the final lap would not be an eventuality as the Iceman had more margin on this occasion than on earlier occasions where possible podium finishes were robbed from Kimi's grasp.

But as the season comes to a close with only two grands prix to go, Kimi, one expects, can afford to break into a smile, away from his usual reticent disposition, having collected some valuable points in the closing stages of the season. After collecting his second consecutive podium finish for the first time in a long time, can Kimi manage another podium from any of the remaining races?

We will have to wait and see!

What were your main talking points from the race? Let us know in the comments below!

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Dev Tyagi

Toothpicks. Iced Tea.

Birdy Nam Nam. High-speed corners. The Doors. Monte Carlo.

Orange. Second World War. Sevastopol. Bouncing back against adversity.

Jaipur. Natalie Pinkham. David Croft. Nina Simone. Walls. Nai Palm and disruptive ideas.

-  The Iceman Cometh-