Verstappen shifts from anger to dominance in Mexico (VIDEO)

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A week after getting a five-second time penalty that knocked him off the podium in Austin, and a year after a five-second time penalty that also cost him a podium in Mexico City, Max Verstappen responded in the best way possible with an utterly crushing third career Grand Prix win in today’s Mexican Grand Prix.

As he did in Sepang earlier this month for his first win of the 2017 season, the Red Bull driver seized his opportunity early in the race and then checked out from there to not be headed.

Verstappen started second and avoided a similar pitfall as plagued him in Singapore, when he got caught up in the Sebastian Vettel and Kimi Raikkonen Ferrari teammate contact on the run down to Turn 1 under the lights, in the rain there.

Today, he made it past Vettel through the Turn 1, 2 and 3 complex and was clear enough of both Vettel and Hamilton by the end of the complex to set sail from the end of the first lap. Vettel, with wing damage and Hamilton, with a puncture, both pitted and Verstappen had the lead from there.

Valtteri Bottas moved into second and Esteban Ocon into third as a result of the first lap chaos, and neither driver – nor their Mercedes and Force India cars – had the measure of the Renault-powered Red Bull the rest of the race.

Verstappen explained the start when speaking to world feed interviewer David Coulthard shortly after the checkered flag.

“The start was very crucial. I went around the outside and it worked out well. I looked after the tires. Performed early in the race. Big thanks to Red Bull otherwise it wouldn’t have been possible. After last week, this is a perfect race,” he said.

The 20-year-old Dutchman expanded on it in a further post-race interview with NBCSN’s Will Buxton, noting how he funneled anger both from losing a podium last week, then losing the pole on Saturday into his dominant drive on Sunday.

“It’s great. Especially after last week. I was so motivated to show these things today,” he told NBCSN. “That’s made it even better to be honest.

“I was maybe a bit angry. But controlled angry. It’s great to have such a great car and control the whole race.”

In fact the only thing Verstappen had to worry about was Renault’s reliability, as the manufacturer endured something of a nightmare weekend. Power unit issues took Verstappen’s Red Bull teammate Daniel Ricciardo, Renault’s Nico Hulkenberg and both Toro Rosso drivers, Pierre Gasly and Brendon Hartley out of the race.

Verstappen said his power unit was turned down and that took that variable out of play.

“Yes (I was nervous)… because I saw one engine catch fire in front of me!” he laughed.

“But we turned it down quite a lot. I had no issues luckily.”

After a run of seven retirements through the opening 14 races through Singapore, Verstappen’s now turned in a four-race run of first, second, fourth and first in the last four races to score 80 points over that time period.

He’s still sixth in the championship but at 30 points back of Raikkonen with two races to play, a top-five points position is still salvageable.

Also coincidentally, Verstappen’s third win comes after Red Bull’s third successive drop of Daniil Kvyat from its program. The first came at Spain last year when the two were switched between Toro Rosso and Red Bull, and his Malaysian win came after Kvyat was temporarily benched to allow Gasly his debut. Now, this win’s come after Kvyat’s final dropping, with Gasly and Hartley in at Toro Rosso until the end of 2017 and quite likely into 2018.

Final 2023 Rolex 24 at Daytona results, stats

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DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. — The 2023 Rolex 24 at Daytona overall results were all streaks: two consecutive victories in the endurance classic for Meyer Shank Racing and three in a row for Acura.

And Helio Castroneves became the second driver to win three consecutive Rolex 24s and the first to win in three straight years (Peter Gregg won in 1973, ’75 and ’76; the race wasn’t held in ’74 because of a global oil crisis).

Starting from the pole position, Tom Blomqvist took the checkered flag in the No. 60 ARX-06 that led a race-high 365 of 783 laps with co-drivers Castroneves, Simon Pagenaud and Colin Braun.

RESULTS: Click here for the finishing order in the 61st Rolex 24 at Daytona l By class

Meyer Shank Racing now has two Rolex 24 victories and the 2022 championship since entering the premier prototype category of the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship in 2021.

“I think what’s so special about this team is we are a small team compared to some of our opponents, but the atmosphere, the way we work, enables people to get the best out of themselves, and I think that’s why we’re such high achievers,” Blomqvist said. “I think there’s no egos. It’s a very open book, and that just enables each and every one of us to reach our potential. I think that’s why we’ve achieved so much success in really a short time at this level of competition.”

It’s the 16th IMSA victory for MSR.

The 61st running of the Rolex 24 at Daytona marked the debut of the Grand Touring Prototype category that brought hybrid engine technology to IMSA’s top level.

In other categories:

LMP2: James Allen passed Ben Hanley on the final lap and delivered a victory in the No. 55 ORECA by 0.016 seconds. It’s the second IMSA victory for Proton Competition, which last won at Sebring in 2012. It was the first Rolex 24 victory for Allen and co-drivers Gianmaria Bruni, Fred Poordad and Francesco Pizzi.

GTD Pro: Cooper MacNeil won in the last start of his IMSA career as the No. 79 Mercedes-AMG GT3 scored the first Rolex 24 at Daytona for WeatherTech Racing and the team’s fourth career victory.

MacNeil, who co-drove with Maro Engel, Jules Gounon and Daniel Juncadella, earned his 12th career victory and first at the Rolex 24.

“Winning by last IMSA race is tremendous,” MacNeil said.

GTD: The No. 27 Heart of Racing Team delivered the first Rolex 24 at Daytona for Aston Martin, which has been competing in endurance races at Daytona International Speedway since 1964. Drivers Marco Sorensen, Roman De Angelis, Darren Turner and Ian James (also the team principal) earned the victory in the English brand’s 13th attempt.

It’s also the first Rolex 24 at Daytona win for Heart of Racing, which has seven IMSA wins.

LMP3: Anthony Mantella, Wayne Boyd, Nico Varrone and Thomas Merrill drove the No. 17 AWA Duqueine D08 to victory by 12 laps for the team’s first class win in IMSA.


STATS PACKAGE FOR ROLEX 24 HOURS OF DAYTONA:

Fastest laps by driver

Fastest laps by driver after race (over the weekend)

Fastest laps by driver and class after race

Fastest lap sequence

Lap chart

Leader sequence

Race analysis by lap

Stint analysis

Time cards

Pit stop time cards

Best sector times

Race distance and speed average

Flag analysis

Weather report

NEXT: The 2023 IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship season will resume with the Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring March 18 with coverage across NBC, USA and Peacock.