Lewis Hamilton says that his teammate Valtteri Bottas ‘opened the door’ to Max Verstappen at the start, which the Dutchman took great advantage of and broke through from the 3rd position on the grid in the first corner to the top of the standings.
Mercedes ‘locked’ the first starting line in Mexico City and the German team hoped to be able to use this to establish control at an early stage of the race. But the tradition has continued that first place is not the most popular to start on this track given the 811-meter long route from the start-finish line to braking for the first corner.
Bottas, Hamilton, and Verstappen were parallel to each other on the brakes for the first corner, but Verstappen had the best trajectory — he 'caught' the outside of the track and went around both Mercedes. The thickest end was pulled by Bottas, who was ‘turned off’ by Daniel Ricciardo in the first corner, so the Finn fell to the back of the standings.
Hamilton on the raceHamilton said after the qualifiers that he and Bottas would work ‘as a team at the start, but after the race, he explained that he imagined things somewhat differently from how they actually went at the start.
"I had a different idea in the sense that Valtteri might start better and that I would try to get into his lee. But I was parallel to him, which is good and I covered my side of the track so that no one could approach me from the inside."
"I tried to keep behind any Red Bull I see in the rearview mirrors, and I thought Valtteri would do the same. But he opened the door for Max, and Max was on the race track and did a great job on braking in the first corner.
I was on the inside, on the dirt, so there was no hope for me, "Hamilton said. Mercedes boss Toto Wolff says he understands Bottas ’position given the lack of visibility in the rear-view mirrors but believes his two drivers could have reacted better to Verstappen’s attack at the start.
"In these cars, it is very difficult to assess what is happening behind you based on the rear-view mirrors. But if they had gone further to the left, I don't think he (Verstappen) would have overtaken them, he would have been blocked, "Wolff said.
Verstappen eventually celebrated a dominant victory ahead of Hamilton, who had to defend against the onslaught of Red Bull driver Sergio Perez before the end of the race. Bottas finished outside the points.