Nico Rosberg has won the first Mexican Grand Prix in 23 years from pole, with a two-stop strategy. Using a soft-medium-medium strategy, he beat his team mate Lewis Hamilton to secure a 10th one-two of the season for Mercedes and move back to second in the driver points standings.
Behind them, the race strategies were affected by a safety car with just 20 laps to go. This effectively allowed a ‘free' pit stop, which meant that those contemplating another stop could do so without a big penalty.
The exception was local hero Sergio Perez, driving for Force India, who stopped only once and finished in a points-scoring eighth: reinforcing his reputation for excellent tyre management. Perez was the only one-stopper in the race, with the vast majority of drivers stopping twice and a handful stopping three times: although none of the three-stoppers managed to score points.
An extra dimension to today's race was added by the highest track temperatures seen all weekend, despite earlier predictions of rain. With 46 degrees of track temperature and an increasing amount of rubber on the new surface, the pattern of wear and degradation seen in practice and qualifying was altered. The extra traction also helped to increase the very high top speeds seen in the thin air of Mexico, with Sebastian Vettel recording 366kph on the straight. Williams driver Felipe Massa clocked 352kph on the straight even without DRS assistance.
As the race went on and the track evolved, the medium tyre in particular came into its own, with the fastest lap being set by Rosberg (lap 67) on this compound at a pace about one second off the pole position he had set on soft tyres.
Paul Hembery: "As expected we saw two stops for the majority of competitors, at what turned out to be quite a complicated race strategically because of a surface that kept on evolving, track temperatures a full 12 degrees higher than we experienced yesterday, and a safety car towards the end of the race. Formula One's return to Mexico has been a spectacular success, with an amazing and vibrant atmosphere from start to finish. As Nigel Mansell said when he interviewed the drivers on the podium: Viva Mexico! It's good to know that some things don't change: when Mexico last returned to F1 in 1986 a Pirelli-equipped car won, thanks to Gerhard Berger and Benetton, and the fans are still brilliant."
We predicted a two-stopper as being the best choice for the 71-lap race: starting on the soft tyre, changing to soft again on lap 23 and then to medium on lap 46. Rosberg chose a two-stopper with a similar pit stop window to our prediction but only did one opening stint on the soft at the start of the race. He moved to the medium on lap 26 and then to the medium again on lap 46. The strategy was affected by higher temperatures than seen previously during the weekend and continuous track evolution.
Check out our Sunday gallery, here.