The race that was: Mexico 2019
To be able to race at home is a great honour for any driver, but it throws up its own unique set of challenges and expectations.
There are more media commitments, greater demand from partners, and there’s the added pressure included, knowing tens of thousands of pairs of eyes are trained on you while completing usual preparations for a race weekend.
For SergioPerez, however, racing in his country’s capital city is a challenge he relishes; “It’s a very special weekend,” explains Checo. “There’s so much fun,I love to see that Mexico can create the best race in the whole calendar.”
But regardless of what’s going on all around, it’s what happens on the 4.3kms of the Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez that really matters.
In 2019, the Racing Point team came into the weekend P7 in the Constructors’ Championship, and as such, there was work to do and progress to be made.
Come qualifying, the pole position shootout was just out of reach for Checo – ourMexican maestro shuffled out by less than one-hundredth of a second – such are the fine margins in F1. Lance meanwhile lined up in P17, with just the Haas and Williams cars behind.
Lance has earned a reputation for making progress during races though, and the MexicanGrand Prix proved to be no exception.
Keeping out of trouble while others scrapped, he made up three places on the opening lap and from then on it was a case of building the gap and managing the tyres.
The second stint of the race proved trickier, with the Hard tyres not offering the performance Lance had hoped for, and in the end, P12 would be the best possible result.
It was a similar story for Checo to begin with, with his late lunge on Toro Rosso’s Daniil Kvyat into Turn 1 being a particular highlight.
A one-stop strategy was the order of the day, and it handed the home hero P7 on the road as the race went on.
More challenges awaited Checo, however, as a hard-charging Daniel Ricciardo on rubber 30 laps fresher closed the gap, searching for an overtake before diving.
Going side-by-side into Turn 1, the Honey Badger misjudged his braking and ran deep onto the grass, allowing Checo to defend brilliantly to the flag, and take the accolade of being ‘best of the rest’.
It was a drive that proved to be crucial for the team, with P7 providing enough points to draw level with Toro Rosso in the standings, applying the pressure into the final races of the season.