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Fast start and smart strategy paid off says Verstappen

Two-time world champion Max Verstappen said the combination of a fast and flawless start and Red Bull’s smart tyre strategy were decisive on Sunday when he claimed a record 14th win of the season at the Mexico Grand Prix.

The 25-year-old Dutchman, who clinched the constructors’ title for Red Bull a week earlier in Texas, took control of the race with a perfect start from his 17th career pole position.

He pulled clear to increase his advantage ahead of seven-time champion Lewis Hamilton of Mercedes, only relinquishing his lead for nine laps after his pit stop before powering away to a comfortable triumph.

“It helped me out a lot for the rest of the race to stay in the lead at Turn One,” said Verstappen, emphasising how important the 800-metre charge off the grid was to taking command of the race.

“Of course, we were also on a different strategy to the cars around us—but again an incredible result. The pace of the car was really nice.

“We had to look after our tyres because it was a very long stint on the mediums, but we made it work.

“It’s such an incredible atmosphere and we love to come here. And it has been an incredible year so far. We are definitely enjoying it—and will try to go for more.”

Red Bull’s choice of a tyre strategy that saw them start on softs and switch to mediums proved to a key factor in their victory as rivals Mercedes struggled when they moved from mediums to hard tyres.

“We got it wrong today,” admitted Mercedes team chief Toto Wolff.

Verstappen’s pure pace did the rest as he cruised to his 14th win of the year to pull clear after sharing the record of 13 wins in a season with two German stars — seven-time champion Michael Schumacher and four-time champion Sebastian Vettel.

His victory in Austin a week earlier had sealed Red Bull’s first constructors’ championship since 2013. He now has 35 wins and a total of 416 points to lead Red Bull teammate and local hero Sergio Perez on 280 in the drivers’ championship, which he clinched on October 9 in Japan. Charles Leclerc of Ferrari is third on 275. 

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