The Mexican Grand Prix wasn't the best example of driving standards, with several drivers going off the track and Sebastian Vettel penalised for moving under braking. However, several other drivers put on a better show, with one pay driver's performance having particularly gone unnoticed.
Felipe Massa was no match to teammate Valtteri Bottas in Mexico and finished well adrift of the Finn after 71 laps of racing.
However, he kept Sergio Perez at bay for nearly 50 laps, which is crucial for Williams in their battle with Force India for fourth in the standings.
Massa took full advantage of his straightline speed and didn’t make a single mistake throughout, despite the obvious pressure exerted from the Mexican.
Lewis Hamilton had an upper hand over Nico Rosberg all through practice and was able to outqualify him on Saturday to take pole.
At the start of the race, Hamilton locked up at turn 1 and went straight, gaining an advantage by re-joining the track still in the lead.
While telemetry data showed that he backed off, with the subsequent safety car negating any advantage, the stewards were indeed lenient by not even investigating his early off-track excursion.
Apart from the aforementioned incident, it was a faultless drive from the Englishman who recorded his second win in a row and reduced the points deficit to Rosberg to 19 points in the standings.
Marcus Ericsson has been anything but impressive since he made his Formula 1 debut with Caterham in 2014. However, his drive in Mexico, which went mostly unnoticed, deserves credit.
Ericsson was unlucky to get caught out on the opening lap by Pascal Wehrlein, demoting him to the back of the pack.
The Swede pitted immediately and put on a set of medium tyres, doing a mammoth 70-lap stint on the same compound.
With no challenge arising towards the end of his stint, he was able to nurse his tyres enough to finish 11th and on the brink of points.
On a day when Perez failed to make it into Q3, Nico Hulkenberg qualified his Force India in a brilliant fifth place, ahead of both Ferraris.
He made a lightning start in the race, passing Ricciardo and nearly dispatching Verstappen for third. However, as that was not to be as the safety car brought his early charge to a halt.
Starting on supersoft tyres was always going to be a disadvantage, even if the red-striped tyres lasted far longer than most expected.
Indeed, Vettel was able to jump by extending his soft tyre stint, while two-stoppers Ricciardo and Raikkonen were able to pass Hulkenberg on fresher tyres.
The German deliberately spun to prevent a contact with Raikkonen, but was able to continue without losing any positions.
While Hulkenberg wouldn’t be too pleased to finish seventh, having ran fourth in the first stint, he maximised the potential of his car to secure the best of the rest spot.
Daniel Ricciardo pitted on lap 1 under the safety car for medium tyres, and later switched to a two-stop strategy, putting on soft tyres for the final dash.
On fresher tyres, Ricciardo charged his way through the field, inching near the rear of Vettel on the penultimate lap of the race.
The Australian tried to dive down the inside at turn 4, but Vettel closed the door, leading to contact between the former teammates.
Ricciardo crossed the line in fifth, but was promoted to third after both Vettel and Verstappen were handed penalties for separate incidents.
by Rachit Thukral