There are only three races left in 2018, and as we head to Mexico City for the nineteenth round, the focus is once again on Lewis Hamilton’s title chances. Here are your reasons to watch all of the action this weekend!
Title number five looms… again
If Lewis Hamilton finishes seventh or higher on Sunday, he will be crowned the 2018 F1 World Champion. There were few who thought he wouldn’t be walking away from Texas as a five-time champion, but a strong performance from Ferrari meant the celebratory champagne was put on ice and the t-shirts were quietly packed away. The Brit has an easier job this weekend, needing to score just five points to secure title number five.
Last season, Hamilton could only manage ninth place here after first lap contact with Sebastian Vettel. On that occasion, ninth was enough to secure him a fourth World Championship victory. Should he win the title this weekend, he’d be the first driver to win two titles in Mexico City.
Another statistic to look out for this weekend: if Mercedes set the fastest time on Saturday, it will be their hundredth pole position in Formula 1.
Facts and figures of the upcoming race. #MexicoGP #ForzaFerrari pic.twitter.com/fEwEAVKNzU
— Scuderia Ferrari (@ScuderiaFerrari) October 24, 2018
Sebastian HAS to win
Meanwhile on the other side of the championship battle, the only way in which Sebastian Vettel can stop Lewis Hamilton from winning the title this weekend is by winning the Mexican Grand Prix. If he finishes second or lower, he’s automatically out of contention for the title this year. Hamilton still must finish below seventh for Vettel to keep the title fight alive into the Brazilian Grand Prix, even if Vettel wins.
Sebastian doesn’t have particularly good form at this track. He finished on the podium here in 2016, but was later demoted to fifth place after the stewards deemed he’d moved under braking while defending from Daniel Ricciardo. In 2015, Vettel had a weekend to forget, picking up a puncture on the first lap and later crashing out, while last year his first lap collision with Hamilton left him on a recovery drive to fourth.
Vettel admitted after another spin in the U.S. Grand Prix that he’s ‘tired’ of recovery drives. Will he be able to keep facing in the right direction and keep the title race alive this weekend?
Max making history?
No driver has ever won back-to-back races in Mexico – unless you count Jim Clark who won the non-championship event in 1962 as part of a shared drive with Trevor Taylor before winning the 1963 Grand Prix.
There’s yet to be a driver on the current grid who has taken more than one win at the circuit, with Lewis Hamilton, Nico Rosberg and Max Verstappen winning here since the circuit’s return to the calendar in 2015. Verstappen will be looking to become the sport’s first bona fide back-to-back winner in Mexico City.
The race could be the last opportunity for Red Bull to take victory in 2018, with Mexico more likely to suit their car than Brazil and Abu Dhabi. Daniel Ricciardo will certainly be hoping for an upturn in fortune following his retirement last weekend at the Circuit of the Americas. He’s had more retirements than any other driver so far this season, and both he and Red Bull are keen to get a good result before the two part ways at the end of the season.
Romain in the bad books
After picking up a penalty for his first lap collision with Charles Leclerc last time out in Texas, Romain Grosjean is now just two penalty points away from receiving a race ban. He’ll be looking to have a clean weekend. In the past twelve months, Grosjean has picked up two penalty points at four of the race weekends which he has competed in, and has picked up an additional penalty point at the U.S Grand Prix as well as last season’s Mexico race. If he has a clean weekend, his penalty point total will drop to nine. If he picks up two, he won’t be racing in Brazil in a fortnight.
When the squad’s outfit game is strong. #MexicanGP pic.twitter.com/f3n6T6p6GL
— Racing Point Force India F1 (@ForceIndiaF1) October 25, 2018
F1 returns to Mexico for the fourth time since the track returned to the calendar in 2015, and the event never fails to deliver a colourful spectacle. There’ll be lots of support, as there has been every year, for Sergio Perez. Last season, the home favourite recorded his best result so far at the Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez with a seventh place finish. He’s yet to fail to score points at the track.
The Mexican crowd always make everyone feel welcome, and if Hamilton does win the title on Sunday, you can expect similar scenes to when he triumphed last season.
The 2018 Mexican Grand Prix begins at 7:10pm GMT on Sunday. In the UK, coverage is exclusively live on Sky Sports F1.