With the Formula One 2023 Mexican Grand Prix at Mexico City ahead of us on this weekend, we would like to take a look back. Here are six epic moments we like to remember of the F1 Mexican GP.
Since 1963, Formula One has made 23 appearances at the Autódromo Hermanos Rodríguez, delivering many exciting races. Among the many epic moments the following six stand out for us.
1964: The Most Unlikely World Champion
Our journey through time begins in 1964. That year’s Mexican GP was perhaps the most dramatic finale in the history of the Formula One World Championship. Three drivers still had the chance of winning the title. Graham Hill (BRM) with 39 points, John Surtees (Ferrari) with 34, and Jim Clark (Lotus) with 30. To become world champion, Clark had to win the race, with Surtees finishing not better than third and Hill not better than fourth. Surtees could only win the title by finishing first – or second, with Hill finishing not higher than third.
Surtees champion amidst high drama
Pole-sitter Clark dominated the race, winning the start, then pulling away quickly and building a substantial lead. While Hill and Lorenzo Bandini, Surtees’s teammate, were duelling for third place, Surtees was a distant fifth, seemingly far from any chance of winning the title. Then Bandini ran into the back of Hill’s BRM, causing him to spin and hit the Armco. The impact damaged the exhaust on Hill’s car, causing him to lose pace and drop out of the points. Now, even more than before, the championship was within Clark’s grasp.
If it stayed thus, Clark and Hill would be tied on points (39), but Clark would be champion with four victories to Hill’s two. However, on the penultimate lap, an oil line failed and Clark’s engine seized as the Lotus crossed the line.
With now Gurney leading Bandini and Surtees in third, Hill would be champion, so long as Surtees placed no higher. Realizing Surtees could win the title by finishing second, the Ferrari team manager frantically signalled Bandini, as he passed the pits for the last lap, to slow down and let Surtees through. Bandini obeyed, and Surtees finished second, thus winning the World Championship of Drivers by one point over Hill (40 to 39).
1986: First Win For Gerhard Berger And Benetton
Gerhard Berger and the Benetton team’s first GP victory falls in the middle of the turbo heydays. The Austrian, then already 27 years of age and at the wheel of the colorful and massively powerful Benetton-BMW B186, took the lead from Lotus’s Ayrton Senna at around half-way of the race and never looked back. In the end, Berger won with 25 seconds ahead of Alain Prost and 52 seconds over Ayrton Senna.
The win was mainly secured by the fact that Benetton ran on Pirelli tires. They were known for lasting longer than the Goodyears. Hence Berger was able to do the whole race distance without a pit stop for a fresh set of tires.
The victory at the 1986 Mexican GP was the first of Berger’s ten Grand Prix wins. His last would be in 1997 at Hockenheim, again in a Benetton. And it would also be last F1 GP win for the Italian squad.
1990 F1 Mexican GP: Mansell vs Berger Overtake
It is one of those iconic overtakes, and one of Nigel Mansell’s (many) great moments. Simply breathtaking. How he overtook Gerhard Berger round the outside at the infamous Peraltada corner at the end of the 1990 Mexican Grand Prix was simply breathtaking.
Berger later said that he had to back off to avoid a collision with Mansell. But still, where Mansell got the guts and the grip for that move remains his secret.
2018 Epic Moment: Vettel & Hamilton
After the 2018 U.S. Grand Prix, Lewis Hamilton led the drivers’ standings by 70 points from Sebastian Vettel and by 125 points from Kimi Raikkonen. This meant that only Vettel still had a chance of knocking Hamilton off the top spot as the season progressed.
Vettel was indeed able to finish the turbulent race in second place behind Max Verstappen. However, Hamilton’s fourth place meant that he had become world champion early on and, with his 5th title, now overtook Vettel in this statistic too. So far, so good, so ordinary.
But now for the epic part, namely how Vettel congratulated Hamilton. In front of all cameras, tens of thousands of spectators on site and millions watching on screen, Vettel approached Hamilton with a smile and shook hands with him. Afterwards, the two stood arm in arm for seconds, chatting and celebrating. An unforgettable, epic F1 moment of two great champions.
2019: Perez’ Reception By Home Fans
This moment may not be a racing scene, but it has nevertheless remained in collective memory. The way Sergio Perez was celebrated by his Mexican fans at his home race on the Parade Lap in 2019 was infectious. The positive energy sparked by the music, chants and cheers impressed even the most celebrated in the extreme. Perez spoke of an “incredible feeling” and “unforgettable experience.”
The Mexican, then still driving for Racing Point (now AMR), thanked his supporters with a strong seventh place in the race. He also showed great defensive skills in the final laps, when he was able to keep Daniel Ricciardo, who was attacking on fresh soft tires, behind him on old hards. Perez said, the result felt like a victory, and we are inclined to believe him. Definitely an epic F1 moment at the Mexican GP.
2021: Carnage At The Start
2021 saw some of the worst first corner carnage of the modern F1 era. Mercedes driver Valtteri Bottas started the race from pole position but was first overtaken into the first corner by Max Verstappen (Red Bull) and then hit by Daniel Ricciardo in the McLaren from behind. Ricciardo, seventh on the grid, had flown down the inside on the dirty part of the track to sneak up a few places before forcing his way back into the procession. However, as he braked late, he locked up and then clipped the back of Valtteri Bottas’ Mercedes, spinning the Finn around.
The aftermath of Bottas’ spin triggered a second collision between Yuki Tsunoda (Alpha Tauri), Mick Schumacher (Haas) and Esteban Ocon (Alpine), with Tsunoda and Schumacher coming off worst and exiting the race after less than a lap. That led to a safety car, with Ricciardo and Bottas at the back. The stewards ruled that the collision was just a “racing incident”, and no-one was penalized.
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What is your favorite Mexican Grand Prix moment? Let us know on Twitter @OverTake_gg or in the comments below!