The eighteenth round of the 2017 F1 season takes us to Mexico City where Lewis Hamilton looks set to win his fouth Drivers’ Title. Meanwhile, there’s another new driver line-up at Toro Rosso and did you know that Max Verstappen may have already won the race?
We take a look at the reasons why you need to watch all the action this weekend!
Hamilton to be World Champion again?
With the Constructors’ Championship wrapped up for Mercedes last weekend, all eyes are now firmly on the Drivers’ Title, which is likely to be won by Lewis Hamilton on Sunday.
A title has never been decided at this track before but the maths is pretty simple this weekend. If Hamilton finishes fifth or higher, he will be the 2017 World Champion, regardless of where title rival Sebastian Vettel finishes.
On the other hand, Vettel must outscore Hamilton by 16 points if he wants to hang on to any slim chance of winning a fourth world championship in 2017.
Hamilton’s reliability this year has been bulletproof, and he has finished all 999 racing laps of the season. It seems that a lapse in that reliability record will be the only thing able to stop the clock reaching hammer time.
The Toro Rosso Shuffle
The Toro Rosso driver merry-go-round continues this weekend as the team brings their fourth different driver line-up of the season. Pierre Gasly, who missed last week’s U.S. Grand Prix to compete in the Super Formula championship season finale (which was incidentally cancelled due to weather!), returns and will be joined by Brendon Hartley. This line-up looks likely to remain until at least the end of the season. Hartley, who finished thirteenth on his Grand Prix debut in Texas, changes his racing number to 28 this weekend.
Max Verstappen: 2017 Mexican Grand Prix Winner?
Max Verstappen’s chances of winning the 2017 Mexican Grand Prix increased dramatically when Daniil Kvyat was dropped once again by Toro Rosso. While there’s no logical reason why, there is one statistic – every time Daniil Kvyat has lost his seat, Max Verstappen has won the following race.
every time Daniil Kvyat has lost his seat, Max Verstappen has won the following race.
In 2016, when Kvyat was hurled back to the Italian team from the main Red Bull squad, his replacement – Verstappen – won the following race in Spain. And in 2017, when Kvyat lost his Toro Rosso drive following the Singapore Grand Prix, Max won the next race in Malaysia.
It would be quite the feat if the same coincidence were to happen this weekend now that Kvyat has been unceremoniously dropped from Toro Rosso once again. Kvyat’s future in the sport looks bleak as Helmut Marko has said the Russian won’t be returning to the Red Bull junior team.
Talking of Verstappen, his removal from the podium finishers last time out in Texas caused quite the stir among teams, journalists and fans. After overtaking Kimi Raikkonen on the final lap, Max’s move was found to be illegal and he was given a five second time penalty, which demoted him to fourth.
Verstappen knows the feeling of being ousted from the podium celebrations all too well as he first experienced it in Mexico last year. Sebastian Vettel was promoted to the podium, taking third spot after the Dutchman was familiarly penalised for cutting a corner. On that day at the Autódromo Hermanos Rodriguez, the drama continued well into the evening, as Daniel Ricciardo eventually ended up taking the third place trophy home after the stewards deemed Vettel at fault for ‘dangerous driving’.
Will we see a repeat of any podium debacles this weekend?
Part of what makes this event special is the atmosphere around the track, thanks to the passionate Mexican fans. A unique feature is the stadium section between Turns 13 and 16, where the crowd can usually be heard loud above the sound of the V6 engines. The podium ceremony is always spectacular – as it takes place in front of the fans in the stadium rather than in the pit-lane.
Force India will be getting the most support from the Mexican crowd, thanks to home favourite Sergio Perez. The pink panthers have been very racy this season, but are yet to score a podium in 2017. Could Checo give his home crowd something to really cheer about with the team’s first showing on the rostrum this year?
Alfonso Celis Jnr, will be taking Esteban Ocon’s seat in First Practice too, giving the Mexican crowd an all-Mexican team for one session.
The race is live on Sky this weekend, with Qualifying kicking off at 7pm on Saturday and the Grand Prix beginning at 8pm on Sunday evening. Remember the clocks go back!