Lewis Hamilton could wrap up his sixth World Championship, Mercedes could win their 100th Grand Prix and Ferrari could score a rare sixth consecutive pole position. Here are the talking points ahead of the 2019 Mexican Grand Prix.
Title #6 for Hamilton?
Lewis Hamilton has wrapped up the Drivers’ Championship at the Mexican Grand Prix in both of the last two seasons. He could make it three in a row this year, as this is his first opportunity to clinch the 2019 title.
Hamilton is currently 64 points ahead of teammate Valtteri Bottas, with a maximum of 104 points left on offer this season. His chances of taking the title this weekend are quite slim. He has to finish on the podium with his team-mate not featuring in the top three to stand a chance of doing so. Hamilton himself is not optimistic about his chances of getting the job done in Mexico, referring to the Mexican round as his team’s “worst race of the year”.
Win #100 for Mercedes?
After claiming their sixth consecutive Constructors’ World Championship at the Japanese Grand Prix, Mercedes could reach a rare milestone this weekend. A victory this weekend would be their 100th Formula 1 win, which would make them the fourth team in history to reach the milestone. Williams are the team who most recently reached 100 victories, doing so with Jacques Villeneuve at the 1997 British Grand Prix.
Mercedes face an uphill battle in securing victory this weekend. Valtteri Bottas’ second place finish in 2017 is the only time that a Mercedes car has finished on the podium in Mexico in the last two seasons. Though the team took back-to-back 1-2 finishes in the preceding two years, Toto Wolff has said that this race will be a case of “damage limitation” for the Silver Arrows, with it likely to be their worst outing from the remaining four Grands Prix of the year.
High altitude = high drama?
Part of Mercedes’ battle is the location of the track. A quirk of the Mexico Grand Prix weekend is the high altitude. Situated 2200 metres above sea level, Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez sits at an altitude three times higher than the next highest circuit, Interlagos. The thinner air means the race can be particularly trying for engines, and can also lead to the teams being more evenly matched on pace.
With their lesser favoured Renault engines, Red Bull and Max Verstappen have won each of the last two Mexican Grands Prix. With Red Bull switching to Honda power for 2019, McLaren and the works Renault team will be the beneficiaries if the power unit excels in Mexico City again this year. Red Bull also locked-out the front row last season – but they could have a hard time doing so again in 2019, with Verstappen wary of the threat from other teams.
Ferrari in form
Verstappen cites Ferrari as the team to beat in Mexico. Ferrari have started from pole position at every race since the summer break, with Sebastian Vettel ending a run of poles for Charles Leclerc at the Japanese Grand Prix. The inter-team battle between the two Ferrari drivers has been one of the most intriguing aspects of the 2019 season, and it could be a talking point again this weekend – especially given the slipstream effect on the main straight.
While the main straight may hamper the harmony at the team, it is that same straight which is likely to give the SF90 chassis the competitive advantage. Another pole for the Scuderia this weekend would be their sixth in succession – something which they’ve done only five times previously, most recently with a streak ending at the 2007 Spanish Grand Prix.
The Mexican F1esta
The Mexican Grand Prix has made a popular return to the calendar since it rejoined for a third stint in 2015. The colourful fiesta atmosphere is one of the best all season, and the event has picked up the prestigious Best Promoter award at the FIA Gala in every year since 2015. Despite this, the future of the race had looked bleak due to a cut in government funding – but a recent deal will see the event stay on the calendar until at least 2022.
Fans will be out in force to support Sergio Perez, who has scored on all but one appearance at his home race. If he scores this weekend, Perez will become the fifteenth driver to have scored points at 100 Grands Prix.