GPR Awards – 2023 Formula 1 Mexican Grand Prix

Another race weekend, another Max Verstappen walkover. Just like Qatar, his win was never in doubt after the first corner. In Mexico, he said he would do what he could to help his teammate, home hero Sergio Perez, achieve runner-up in this year’s championship. It turned out that he wasn’t needed, after all. 

Sergio Perez, crashing out at the first corner, earns Reject of the Race at his home grand prix! 

At least he doesn’t lack ambition. Under all the scrutiny that Perez has faced since his excellent early-season form dropped off after the Miami GP, he has often spent far too many races stuck behind equally demotivated Ferraris and not really going anywhere. Lewis Hamilton, after an impressive mid-season run of podiums and decent finishes, now genuinely threatens him in the championship for runner-up. This would have been unthinkable if Sergio was anything close to his form from the opening rounds, and it has been one of the prime sources of all the critiques levelled at him. 

Therefore, there were about five to ten seconds of elation from his fans and the local crowds alike when he got the start from heaven, swooping around both Ferraris and potentially his teammate, to take the lead towards the first corner braking zone. For about 1.5 seconds that is. Unfortunately for Sergio, he misjudged the positioning of the Ferraris to his right, cut across to take the racing line too early, and got launched into the sky. His Red Bull and his ego considerably damaged, he went from hero to zero in moments, limped into the pits, before retiring, bashing the steering wheel a few times in the process. 

We have crashdown for the Space Shuttle Perez.

There’s not much worth in discussing the rest of Sergio’s weekend, because it doesn’t matter when he didn’t finish the first lap of his home race. In spite of his ambition and eagerness to please, he simply had not enough room and rightly earns Reject of the Race in Mexico City. Coupled with the fact that Lewis Hamilton did this very thing two races ago in Qatar just doubles the embarrassment of it all. 

If not Perez, then Aston Martin deserve a rather ominous nod in their direction. Again, they were appallingly slow, and like Sergio they have completely lost their early-season form. Even the might of Fernando Alonso doesn’t appear to be enough to drag performances out of the car. Alonso used the new upgrade packages while Lance Stroll went back to the Qatar spec. After Kevin Magnussen suffered a hairy crash when his Haas’ left-rear suspension broke, causing a mid-race red flag, the race resumed with a standing start. Alonso suffered damage at some point during the restart and parked it in the pits, and then Stroll did the same thing some laps later when overtaking Valtteri Bottas’ Alfa Romeo. This incident was six of one and half a dozen of the other – Stroll yet again didn’t see someone in his mirrors, and Valtteri should have known when to give up.

The other real embarrassing moment was when Esteban Ocon announced to the world feed, and more specifically to Nico Hulkenberg’s Haas ahead, that he was “going for it”. Just like when a cocky guy at school tells everyone to “watch this” before he misses the basketball hoop by two metres, Esteban took about 11 laps to overtake Nico! The whole Formula 1 world waited with baited breath as the very humble and unassuming Frenchman eventually got past with DRS. 

Daniel Ricciardo finally shows us what he’s capable of, and wins Infinite Improbability Drive of the Race! 

One extra black mark against Perez comes as a result of him being outqualified by Daniel Ricciardo. Now, admittedly the performance of the various teams is affected due to the thinner air and the unique climate that this circuit offers on the calendar, but we still expect AlphaTauri to be firmly behind their sister team, and when rumours are going public about Sergio’s eventual replacement, then Daniel put himself in the right place at the right time. 

Throughout the early stages he was successfully able to hold up a frustrated Hamilton, and only really lost 5th due to the red flag falling at a suboptimal time. His teammate Yuki Tsunoda also had really good top 10 pace, but blew it after not one but two contacts with Oscar Piastri when fighting for position – and this after he had already bumped wheels with Magnussen in the opening laps. While Yuki clowned around and finished outside the points, Ricciardo clung onto a massive 7th for the team. Grand Prix Rejects has been critical of the 2022 Reject of the Year’s return to Formula 1 this season, but this was a 10/10 performance from the Australian.

The Mexican fans were treated to a glimpse of the 2014-2020 Daniel Ricciardo

A final shout-out goes to Lando Norris. He went out in Q1 due to poorly timed yellow flags, before scything his way through the field into the points. He, like Ricciardo, got unlucky with the safety car and red flag timing, before a nightmare restart dropped him to the rear yet again. Lando had to scythe his way through the field again, which he did with gusto to bring home 5th and 10 more precious points for McLaren. Certainly a busy afternoon for Lando, and he brought some real excitement to a second half of the race which sorely needed it.

Full Results

REJECT OF THE RACE INFINITE IMPROBABILITY DRIVE OF THE RACE
Sergio Perez 14 (70%) Daniel Ricciardo 16 (94%)
Esteban Ocon “going for it” 5 (25%) Lando Norris 1 (6%)
Aston Martin 1 (5%)
Number of votes: 20 Number of votes: 17

Disclaimer: The ROTR and IIDOTR awards are purely for fun purposes.

The IIDOTR is a democratically-decided award, based on the assumption that, at any moment in time, there is a non-zero probability that even the slowest, most inexperienced and least reliable of underdogs might win the race. That under every rock, there might be a gold nugget. This is the award for that first podium that we all celebrate, for the overtake no-one was expecting, for the underdog’s first win. This is the award, in short, for the driver or team that makes you go “Woah! Where did THAT come from?!”.

The ROTR is a medal of dishonour that celebrates the most noteworthy failure of a Grand Prix weekend, based on expectations heading into the weekend and general performance. That one brainfade, the silliest mistake or the most patent nonsense going on, all that is what being the ROTR is all about.

2023 Grand Prix Rejects Awards
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