2019 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix – Preview

It was a masterful performance in an entertaining and chaotic 2019 Brazil Grand Prix by Max Verstappen at the Autódromo José Carlos Pace in São Paulo to claim his third race victory of the season, the eighth win of his career after starting from pole position for the second time, and while Verstappen produced one of the great drives in his young career to date, others had problems with Valtteri Bottas retiring from the race with an oil pressure issues on Lap 52, both Ferrari’s taking each other out with arguably the most innocuous collision in Formula One history, and Lewis Hamilton making a rare mistake in taking out Alexander Albon from podium contention for what would have been Albon’s first podium, and after Hamilton’s five-second penalty after the race allowed both Pierre Gasly and Carlos Sainz Jr. to claim their first podium’s in Formula One.

Now, the grid heads to the Yas Marina Circuit in Abu Dhabi for the 21st and final round of the 2019 FIA Formula One World Championship, the 2019 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.

Hamilton (387 points), despite finishing seventh in Brazil after the five-second penalty for the collision with Albon, still extended his lead over his Mercedes teammate Bottas (314 points) to 73 points, and now has the opportunity to not only match his race victory tally in 2014 and 2018, as well as score 400 points or more for the second-straight season, but also finish every race of a season for the second time in his career.

Hamilton will also have the opportunity to equal his own record of most consecutive points finishes in Formula One history with 33-straight points finishes. Hamilton, coming into this weekend, has finished 65 of his last 66 races inside the points, with his retirement at the 2018 Austrian Grand Prix being the only race he hasn’t finished inside the points since the 2016 Malaysian Grand Prix, where his engine and ultimately his world championship hopes went up in flames after leading the race comfortably!

Bottas will also be looking to finish his season on a high, and prove to himself that he has the capabilities to challenge Hamilton in 2020!

Verstappen (260 points) moves up into third in the championship for Red Bull Racing-Honda, and will be battling for third-place in the standings this weekend with Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc (249 points), who surrendered third in the world championship to Verstappen after his collision with teammate Sebastian Vettel in Brazil.

For Verstappen to finish third in the 2019 FIA Formula One World Championship:

1. If Leclerc wins the race (with the fastest lap), Verstappen must finish in second.

2. If Leclerc wins the race (without the fastest lap), Verstappen must finish third or higher (with or without the fastest lap).

3. If Leclerc finishes second (with or without the fastest lap), Verstappen must finish sixth or higher (with or without the fastest lap).

4. If Leclerc finishes third (with the fastest lap), Verstappen must finish seventh or higher.

5. If Leclerc finishes third (without the fastest lap), Verstappen must finish eighth or higher (with or without the fastest lap).

6. If Leclerc finishes fourth (with the fastest lap), Verstappen must finish ninth or higher.

7. If Leclerc finishes fourth (without the fastest lap), Verstappen must finish 10th or higher (with the fastest lap if he finishes in 10th).

8. If Leclerc finishes fifth or lower (with or without the fastest lap).

Vettel (230 points) is fifth in the championship after losing his chance to finish third in the final standings after his race-ending collision with Leclerc in Brazil, but still has the opportunity to finish fourth in the world championship in front of his teammate if he can out-score Leclerc by 19/20 points in Abu Dhabi.

Behind the Top Five, there is the battle for sixth between Gasly (95 points) of Scuderia Toro Rosso-Honda, Sainz (95 points) of McLaren-Renault, and Albon (84 points) of Red Bull Racing-Honda, while Daniel Ricciardo (54 points) from Renault, and Sergio Pérez (46 points) from Racing Point-BWT Mercedes complete the Top 10, with Lando Norris (45 points) from McLaren-Renault, Kimi Räikkönen (43 points) from Alfa Romeo Racing-Ferrari, Nico Hülkenberg (37 points) from Renault, and Daniil Kvyat (35 points) from Scuderia Toro Rosso-Honda still a realistic chance of finishing the championship inside the Top 10 in the standings.

Looking at the Constructors’ Championship, Mercedes (701 points) will finish in first, ahead of Ferrari (479 points) in second, Red Bull Racing-Honda (391 points) in third, and McLaren-Renault (140 points) in fourth. The battle remains open though for fifth between Renault (91 points) and Scuderia Toro Rosso-Honda (83 points), as well as the fight for seventh between Racing Point-BWT Mercedes (67 points) and Alfa Romeo Racing-Ferrari (57 points). Haas-Ferrari (28 points) will likely finish in ninth, ahead of Williams-Mercedes (one point), who will finish in 10th, barring a minor miracle!

So, who will win the final race of 2019?

I feel like at a circuit which typically offers little shocks or surprises, that a dominant performance from Lewis Hamilton, especially given the race he had in Brazil, would be expected, but you cannot rule out Ferrari, or Max Verstappen from Red Bull Racing-Honda giving him a run for his money in the 2019 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix!

2019 Newcastle 500 – Preview

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Scott McLaughlin clinched his second Supercars Championship last time out at the 2019 Sandown 500, with McLaughlin and his co-driver Alexandre Prémat finished in a lowly ninth, but the drama since the 2019 Bathurst 1000 victory for Car No.17, and for McLaughlin, Prémat, and DJR Team Penske has continued, with of course the penalty surrounding Car No.12 at Bathurst of Fabian Coulthard, who was in the car at the time, and Tony D’Alberto for holding up the field after the safety car was deployed on Lap 135 of the Bathurst 1000, allowing Jamie Whincup and Scott McLaughlin to escape up the road to have essentially a free pit-stop, and was the catalyst for Car No.17 to win the 2019 Bathurst 1000.

Then, we had the revelation from CAMS (Confederation of Australian Motor Sport) and Supercars at Sandown in regards to the qualifying engine of Car No.17 that “the valve lift in a number of cylinders was found to have exceeded the maximum permitted valve lift prescribed”, and then the subsequent penalty for Car No.17 to be disqualified from qualifying at the 2019 Bathurst 1000, and therefore being stripped of their pole position at Bathurst, DJR Team Penske being fined $30,000, and Car No.17 being forced to start the Sandown 500 from the back of the grid, but crucially were able to keep their victory in the 2019 Bathurst 1000.

Now, the way that CAMS, which will become Motorsport Australia in 2020, and Supercars stewards decided to punish Car No.17 was an admission, without actually saying it, is that they had made a mistake in not punishing Car No.17 and DJR Team Penske earlier, as in at the Bathurst 1000, and it is not the first mistake CAMS and Supercars have made in 2019, and both of them are going to have to have a deep review of their technical and sporting operations in the off-season heading into 2020.

However, despite all the conjecture and debate about the credibility and validity of the success of Scott McLaughlin, DJR Team Penske, and the Ford Mustang, the one thing is for sure is that McLaughlin is a deserving two-time Supercars champion, and it will be celebrated at the 2019 Newcastle 500, the 15th and final round of the 2019 Supercars Championship.

McLaughlin (3614 points) leads the championship by an unassailable 550 points over Shane Van Gisbergen (3064 points) from Triple Eight Race Engineering, who is in a three-way battle for second in the championship with his teammate Jamie Whincup (2968 points), and McLaughlin’s teammate in Fabian Coulthard (2791 points) heading into Newcastle.

Behind the Top Four, Chaz Mostert (2705 points) is fifth in the standings for Tickford Racing, and is still a chance of finishing third in the championship, while David Reynolds (2517 points) will finish outside of the Top Three in the final standings for Erebus Motorsport regardless of what happens on the streets of Newcastle.

Then, there is a huge five-way fight for what will be likely seventh in the championship between Tickford Racing’s Cameron Waters (2387 points) and two of his teammates in Will Davison (2369 points) and Lee Holdsworth (2323 points), as well as Nick Percat from Brad Jones Racing and James Courtney from Walkinshaw Andretti United, the team that he will be leaving after the Newcastle 500 to join the new Sydney team in 2020.

Looking at the Teams’ Championship, there is 116 points separating DJR Team Penske (6101 points) and Triple Eight Race Engineering (5985 points) with the battle being reinvigorated after the 300 point penalty handed out to DJR Team Penske after the actions of the team in telling Fabian Coulthard to hold up the field at Bathurst.

In regards to the Newcastle Street Circuit, it is important to note that the track has been lengthened by 12 metres to 2.641 kilometres, with the Turn 11 hairpin being revised, with the approach into Turn 11 being lengthened by 11.5 metres.

So, who will win the 2019 Newcastle 500?

I think all the distractions that have happened over the last few weeks, plus the crash on the Gold Coast have really affected Scott McLaughlin, but with the distractions largely out of the way, I think McLaughlin will dominate the Newcastle 500, winning both races to finish his largely incredible season in style!

 

2019 Brazil Grand Prix – Preview

Lewis Hamilton claimed his sixth Formula One World Championship to move to within one of Michael Schumacher’s record of seven after finishing second behind his Mercedes teammate Valtteri Bottas at the 2019 United States Grand Prix, and will be looking to not only match and surpass his race victory tally in 2014 and 2018 over the course of the last two rounds of 2019, but also score 400 points or more for the second-straight season as the grid heads to the Autódromo José Carlos Pace in São Paulo in Brazil for the 2019 Brazil Grand Prix, Round 20 of the 2019 FIA Formula One World Championship.

Hamilton (381 points) leads by an insurmountable 67 points over Bottas (314 points) after a season which both him and his team have faced some challenges, the death of three-time world champion Niki Lauda, who was the non-executive chairman of Mercedes, and the surge of form towards the end of the season from Ferrari, but a year which Hamilton has confirmed his place as a legend of the sport.

He won Formula One’s 1000th race back at the Chinese Grand Prix in April, and in Monaco, produced arguably the best drive of his career, certainly one of the two best defensive drives of his career, along with the 2014 Bahrain Grand Prix, to win the Monaco Grand Prix for the third time, keeping Max Verstappen (who had a five-second penalty to be added), Sebastian Vettel, and Bottas behind him, and then we had the race-long battle between Hamilton and Verstappen at the Hungarian Grand Prix, with Hamilton and Mercedes taking a strategic gamble in switching to a two-stop strategy on Lap 48, and with a lack of challengers from behind, it worked with Hamilton catching and passing Verstappen with the best part of four laps to go to clinch a memorable victory.

However, Hamilton’s legendary career has had so many moments that we will remember forever, his first race victory in Canada back in 2007, his fourth race victory of his career in torrential rain at Fuji Speedway in Japan in 2007, his dominant victory in Australia in 2008 in scorching hot conditions, his first win in Monaco in 2008, his first win at the British Grand Prix in 2008 in extremely wet conditions, winning by over a minute from Nick Heidfeld, to his charge to victory at the 2008 German Grand Prix at Hockenheim, his first victory of the 2009 season in Hungary after McLaren managed to get back up to speed after a difficult start to 2009, his amazing drive in China in 2011 after almost being forced to start from the pit-lane due to a technical issue, then his first victory with Mercedes in Hungary in 2013, to a number of countless performances over the last six seasons that have left us all watching in awe!

The question for 2020 for Hamilton is, can he equal Schumacher’s record? Only time will tell with that one, but you wouldn’t bet against him, that is for sure!

For his teammate Bottas, he has only been outscored by two points by Hamilton over the last four races, and will be looking to beat him over the last two races to give himself a huge confidence boost heading into 2020.

Behind the two Mercedes drivers, there is a three-way battle for third in the championship between Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc (249 points), Max Verstappen (235 points) from Red Bull Racing-Honda, and Leclerc’s teammate in Vettel (230 points).

Leclerc has had a magnificent first season at Ferrari, winning both in Belgium and Italy, as well as taking seven pole positions, while Verstappen has been simply superb in dragging the Red Bull car to two race victories in Austria and Germany, as well as securing his first career pole position in Hungary, but Vettel hasn’t quite been at his best in 2019, with his only win this year so far coming at the Singapore Grand Prix.

Leclerc can claim third in the world championship this weekend if he outscores Verstappen by 13 points, and Vettel by eight points.

Behind the Top Five in the standings, Alexander Albon (84 points) has moved up to sixth in the championship for Red Bull Racing-Honda after finishing fifth at the Circuit of the Americas, and has now been officially confirmed as Verstappen’s teammate at Red Bull for 2020.

However, Carlos Sainz Jr. (80 points) for McLaren-Renault, and Pierre Gasly (77 points) for Scuderia Toro Rosso-Honda will be looking to challenge Albon for sixth in the standings over the course of the final two races of 2019.

Completing the Top 10 in the world championship are Renault’s Daniel Ricciardo (46 points), and Sergio Pérez (44 points) from Racing Point-BWT Mercedes.

Looking at the Constructors’ Championship, Mercedes (695 points) lead by 216 points over Ferrari (479 points) as they look to score 700 points in a season for the fourth time in the last six seasons, with Red Bull Racing-Honda (366 points) 113 points behind Ferrari, with both Ferrari and Red Bull locked into second and third respectively.

Behind the Top Three, McLaren-Renault (121 points) are on the verge of officially securing fourth in the championship, which would be their first Top Four finish in the Constructors’ Championship since 2012, when they finished third, with Renault (83 points) looking like finishing in fifth, a spot worse than in 2018.

Behind those two, Racing Point-BWT Mercedes (65 points) and Scuderia Toro Rosso-Honda (64 points) are in a titanic battle for sixth with only a point separating the two teams with two races remaining, while Alfa Romeo Racing-Ferrari (35 points) and Haas-Ferrari (28 points) are in a battle for eighth with Williams-Mercedes (one point) looking certain to finish 10th and last.

So, who is going to win the 2019 Brazil Grand Prix?

Mercedes have found some form in recent races, winning the last four, and you feel that a big weekend, and a huge performance is just around the corner from Lewis Hamilton to really put the icing on the cake celebrating his sixth world championship. I think he will win in Brazil for the third time, and end his eight race drought without a pole position in the process!

2019 Valencian GP (MotoGP) – Preview

Maverick Viñales grabbed just his second race victory of the season at the 2019 Malaysian Grand Prix, Marc Márquez came from 11th on the grid to be second after the opening lap, and after an early battle with Jack Miller, managed to hold second place right until the end of the race, while Andrea Dovizioso finished third from 10th on the grid after a race-long battle with Valentino Rossi.

So, the season is about to come to an end, and the grid heads to Valencia in Spain for the 2019 Valencian Grand Prix, the 19th and final round of the 2019 MotoGP World Championship.

Márquez (395 points) leads the championship by a dominant 139 points for the Repsol Honda Team over Dovizioso (256 points) from Mission Winnow Ducati in what has been a truly extraordinary season for the Spaniard.

Márquez has achieved 11 wins in 2019 so far, just two away from his tally in 2014, but has had 17 podiums, the most by anyone in a premier class season, one more than he had in his rookie season in MotoGP back in 2013, and three more than what he had in 2014.

However, what is mind-blowing is that he has now scored the most points in a premier class season, 12 more points than what his current teammate Jorge Lorenzo did back in 2010, and now only needs five points in Valencia to become the first rider in any class to score 400 points or more in a single season.

Also, if Márquez can outscore Dovizioso by nine points or more in Valencia, it will be the biggest world championship winning points-scoring margin in history, surpassing the 147-point winning margin Rossi had over Marco Melandri in the 2005 MotoGP World Championship.

However, regardless of whether this happens in Valencia or not, the question will be afterwards whether Márquez can replicate this in 2020, and by the way he has performed on the Honda, you struggled to see anyone truly halting his charge towards immortality in the sport.

Meanwhile, Dovizioso just needs six points to score more points in 2019 than in any other season since he has been in the premier class since 2008. He scored 261 points in taking Márquez to a final round championship battle back in 2017, but has been nowhere near challenging the great Spaniard in 2019.

Behind the Top Two in the world championship, there is a battle for third between Viñales (201 points from Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP, and Álex Rins (194 points) from Team SUZUKI ECSTAR.

Both riders have had inconsistent seasons by their standards, suffering four and three race retirements respectively, but have shown some flashes of their brilliance, with Viñales producing magnificent performances at Assen and Sepang, while Rins won at the Circuit of the Americas, taking advantage of the only race crash of 2019 for Márquez, and then beating the now six-time MotoGP World Champion in a race long duel at Silverstone.

So, for Viñales to finish third in the 2019 MotoGP World Championship:

1. If he finishes ahead of Rins.

2. If Rins wins in Valencia, Viñales must finish in second.

3. If Rins finishes in second, Viñales must finish in third.

4. If Rins finishes in third, Viñales must finish seventh or higher.

5. If Rins finishes in fourth, Viñales must finish 10th or higher.

6. If Rins finishes in fifth, Viñales must finish 12th or higher.

7. If Rins finishes in sixth, Viñales must finish 13th or higher.

8. If Rins finishes in seventh, Viñales must finish 14th or higher.

9. If Rins finishes in eighth, Viñales must finish 15th or higher.

10. If Rins finishes ninth or lower.

Behind the Top Four in the standings, Danilo Petrucci (176 points) is fifth in the championship for Mission Winnow Ducati despite not achieving a podium in his last 11 races, just ahead of Fabio Quartararo (172 points) from Petronas Yamaha SRT and Valentino Rossi (166 points) from Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP, while Jack Miller (149 points) from Alma Pramac Racing, Cal Crutchlow (133 points) from LCR Honda, and Franco Morbidelli (115 points) from Petronas Yamaha SRT complete the Top 10 in the world championship.

In terms of the Teams’ Championship, only two points separate Mission Winnow Ducati (432 points) and the Repsol Honda Team (430 points). For the Repsol Honda Team to win the Teams’ Championship, they must outscore Mission Winnow Ducati by two points or more in Valencia.

So, who is going to win the final race of the season in Valencia?

It should be a cracking race, as it usually is in Valencia, and with fine, but cool conditions expected, it should give every top competitor a chance of victory, but given his dominance in 2019, and that once in 2019 has he failed to bounce back after not winning the previous race, you would have to tip Marc Márquez to finish 2019 on a high!

2019 United States Grand Prix – Preview

Despite expectations of not being as competitive compared to their rivals, Lewis Hamilton delivered Mercedes a wonderful victory at the 2019 Mexico Grand Prix, his 10th for the season, the 83rd of his career, and is now very much on the verge, if he wasn’t already, of becoming a six-time world champion as the grid heads to the Circuit of the Americas for the 2019 United States Grand Prix, Round 19 of the 2019 FIA Formula One World Championship.

Hamilton (363 points) leads the championship by 74 points over teammate Valtteri Bottas (289 points) after a brilliant drive at the Autódromo Hermanos Rodríguez, with Mercedes outsmarting Ferrari on strategy to allow Hamilton to jump ahead of Sebastian Vettel in the battle for the win, and Bottas to move, and then stay ahead of Charles Leclerc in the fight for third.

With that result for Hamilton, he has an even better opportunity to move to within one of Michael Schumacher’s record of seven world championships this weekend if (and please note that you must finish inside the Top 10 in the race to claim a point for setting the fastest lap):

1. If Bottas wins the race (with the fastest lap), Hamilton must finish 8th or higher.

2. If Bottas wins the race (without the fastest lap), Hamilton must finish 9th (with the fastest lap if he finishes in 9th) or higher.

3. If Bottas finishes second or lower (with or without the fastest lap).

Behind the Top Two in the championship, Leclerc (236 points) sits in third in the standings for Ferrari, six points ahead of teammate Vettel (230 points) after finishing a disappointing fourth in the end at the Mexico Grand Prix after inheriting pole position from Red Bull Racing-Honda driver Max Verstappen, his seventh for the season, which means he cannot be overtaken for most pole positions in 2019, but Ferrari must review and rectify their inability to convert pole positions, and front row starts in victories in the last three races of 2019 if they are going to give themselves the best chance of success against Mercedes in 2020.

Verstappen (220 points) is fifth in the world championship after a disappointing Mexico Grand Prix after firstly being stripped of pole position after failing to adhere to the yellow flag after the Bottas accident, followed by a scruffy opening lap of the race, and then being forced to pit at the end of Lap Five after suffering a tyre puncture after the front wing of Bottas’ car made contact with the right rear tyre on Lap Four, but managed to fight his way back to finish in sixth.

The circumstances surrounding Verstappen being stripped of pole position, and the subsequent three-place grid penalty, will be something that he will learn from going forward, but the race stewards should have reported the incident earlier than they did, and quite possibly, both Verstappen and the race stewards should have taken into account that Verstappen would have still been on pole position even if that final lap wasn’t completed, and you would hope that both parties will learn from this experience going forward.

Behind Verstappen in the championship, there is a huge three-way battle for sixth between Pierre Gasly (77 points) from Scuderia Toro Rosso-Honda, Carlos Sainz Jr. (76 points) from McLaren-Renault, and Alexander Albon (74 points) from Red Bull Racing-Honda, although you sense that Albon will be the favourite to take sixth by the end of the season due to the superior car that he has underneath him, compared to the Toro Rosso and McLaren.

Racing Point-BWT Mercedes driver Sergio Pérez (43 points), and Renault driver Daniel Ricciardo (38 points) complete the Top 10 in the standings after both achieved points-scoring finishes in Mexico.

Looking at the Constructors’ Championship, Mercedes (652 points), who are just four points from surpassing their points tally of 2018 (655), and 17 points from surpassing their points tally of 2017 (668), lead by 186 points over Ferrari (466 points), with Ferrari being 125 points ahead of Red Bull Racing-Honda (341 points) with three races remaining.

Ferrari can claim second in the Constructors’ Championship for the third-straight season, and the fourth time in the last five years if Red Bull Racing-Honda don’t outscore Ferrari in the United States by 37 points or more.

Behind the Top Three, McLaren-Renault (111 points) are heading towards fourth in the championship, ahead of Renault (73 points), Scuderia Toro Rosso-Honda (64 points), and Racing Point-BWT Mercedes (64 points) battling for fifth, with Alfa Romeo Racing-Ferrari (35 points), Haas-Ferrari (28 points), and Williams-Mercedes (one point) rounding out the field.

So, who will win the 2019 United States Grand Prix?

This should be a great race, like last year, and while Ferrari have had the one lap speed advantage over Mercedes since the mid-season break, you sense it will be Mercedes with the fastest race car this weekend, and I think Lewis Hamilton will claim his sixth Formula One World Championship in style!

2019 Malaysian GP (MotoGP) – Preview

The margin won’t say so, but the 2019 Australian Grand Prix was one of the best races of the year, with plenty of battles at the front of the field before it became a battle between Marc Márquez and Maverick Viñales, with Márquez shadowing Viñales for a number of laps until the final lap, when Márquez made his move, passing Viñales on the Gardner Straight/into the Doohan Corner (Turn One).

Viñales tried all he could to overtake Márquez, but crashed out on the final lap entering the braking zone of Turn 10, throwing away a certain podium, and Márquez went onto claim his third win at Phillip Island, his 11th for the season, and the 55th of his premier class career, overtaking Mick Doohan into third on the all-time premier class winners list.

However, there is still plenty on the line for not only Márquez, but also the rest of his rivals as we head into the penultimate round, the 2019 Malaysian Grand Prix, Round 18 of the 2019 MotoGP World Championship.

Márquez (375 points) leads the championship for the Repsol Honda Team by 135 points over Andrea Dovizioso (240 points) from Mission Winnow Ducati after winning in Australia, and despite having the world championship well and truly wrapped up, Márquez still has plenty to play for, including equalling his win tally from 2014 of 13, as well as the record for the most points in a premier class season, Márquez currently just eight points away from Jorge Lorenzo’s record of 383 points that was set back in 2010, and the biggest world championship winning margin, with the Spaniard’s lead just 12 points away from Valentino Rossi’s record winning margin of 147 points set back in 2005 when the great Italian was at the peak of his powers.

Meanwhile, Dovizioso has secured second in the championship for the third-straight season in what has been a difficult season overall with two races remaining.

Behind the Top Two though, it is a giant battle for third in the standings between Álex Rins (183 points) from Team SUZUKI ECSTAR, Viñales (176 points) from Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP, Danilo Petrucci (169 points) from Mission Winnow Ducati, and Fabio Quartararo (163 points) from Petronas Yamaha SRT.

However, the only rider to finish the 2019 Australian Grand Prix from these four riders was Rins, who finished in a lowly ninth after another disappointing qualifying session, qualifying 12th in a performance symptomatic of his season, and his performance over one lap is something that must be addressed if he is to ever challenge for a MotoGP World Championship.

Behind those four, Valentino Rossi (153 points) from Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP, Jack Miller (141 points) from Alma Pramac Racing, and Cal Crutchlow (133 points) from LCR Honda are still in the hunt for third in the championship, but it will be a tall order for those three to challenge the four ahead of them in the standings for third.

However, the performances of Crutchlow in finishing second, and Miller in finishing in third at Phillip Island were simply magnificent, and they will be hoping to take this form into the final two races of 2019.

Behind them, Franco Morbidelli (105 points) closes out the Top 10 for Petronas Yamaha SRT.

In terms of the Teams’ Championship, the Repsol Honda Team (408 points) are somehow, thanks largely to the performances of Márquez, just a single point behind Mission Winnow Ducati (409 points) heading into the final two races as Honda look to win the Riders’, Constructors’, and Teams’ championships.

So, who is going to win the 2019 Malaysian Grand Prix?

There is only one rider that you could tip with confidence, supreme confidence, to win this weekend, and is probably in his best form since the first 10 races of 2014. It has got to be Marc Márquez to claim his sixth-straight race victory, and win the Malaysian Grand Prix for just the third time in the premier class.

2019 Mexico Grand Prix – Preview

It was a magnificent, but more importantly a morale-boosting performance from Valtteri Bottas to claim the 2019 Japanese Grand Prix, his third race victory of the season, and is now the only driver that can challenge Lewis Hamilton for the 2019 championship, which means for the first time in Formula One history, a team, which in this case is Mercedes, will win six-consecutive driver and constructor championships after Mercedes claimed their sixth-straight Constructors’ Championship at Suzuka!

However, with Ferrari showing fantastic speed over one lap, and Red Bull Racing-Honda normally very strong at the Autódromo Hermanos Rodríguez, there will be a lot of factors for Mercedes to deal with as we head into Round 18 of the 2019 FIA Formula One World Championship, the 2019 Mexico Grand Prix.

Hamilton (338 points) leads the championship by 64 points over his Mercedes’ teammate Bottas (274 points), the only driver that can challenge Hamilton for the world championship, and this weekend, Hamilton can move to within one of Michael Schumacher’s record of seven world championships if (and please note that you must finish inside the Top 10 in the race to claim a point for setting the fastest lap):

1. Hamilton wins the race (with the fastest lap), and Bottas finishes fourth or lower.

2. Hamilton wins the race (without the fastest lap), and Bottas finishes fifth or lower (with or without the fastest lap).

3. Hamilton finishes 2nd (with or without the fastest lap), and Bottas finishes eighth or lower (without the fastest lap).

4. Hamilton finishes 2nd (without the fastest lap), and Bottas finishes ninth or lower (with or without the fastest lap).

5. Hamilton finishes 3rd (with the fastest lap), and Bottas finishes ninth or lower.

6. Hamilton finishes 3rd (without the fastest lap), and Bottas finishes 10th or lower (without the fastest lap).

However, you sense it is going to be uphill struggle for Hamilton and Mercedes this weekend given the challenges they have had in recent times at high altitude in Mexico, which could very well mean that the championship goes onto the Circuit of the Americas the week after the Mexico Grand Prix.

Charles Leclerc (221 points) is third in the championship, and the best of the rest for Ferrari despite finishing the Japanese Grand Prix in seventh after fighting back through the field after colliding with Max Verstappen on the opening lap, forcing Leclerc to come into the pits to change his front wing.

Verstappen (212 points) is still fourth in the standings for Red Bull Racing-Honda despite having to retire from the race at Suzuka due to damage suffered to his car after the collision with Leclerc. Vettel (212 points) is now level on points with Verstappen for Ferrari after finishing second behind Bottas in Japan, but still trails Verstappen in the championship due to having more wins than Vettel (two wins to one).

Behind the Top Five in the world championship, Carlos Sainz Jr. (76 points) is sixth in the world championship for McLaren-Renault, followed by Pierre Gasly (75 points) and Alexander Albon (64 points) for Scuderia Toro Rosso-Honda, who will be changing their name to Scuderia Alpha Tauri-Honda in 2020, and Red Bull Racing-Honda respectively, while Sergio Pérez (37 points) for Racing Point-BWT Mercedes and Lando Norris (35 points) for McLaren-Renault complete the Top 10 in the standings following the disqualifications of both Renault drivers (Daniel Ricciardo and Nico Hülkenberg) from the 2019 Japanese Grand Prix after both cars were found to have had illegal pre-set, automated brake bias system after a protest by Racing Point-BWT Mercedes.

Looking at the Constructors’ Championship, Mercedes (612 points) have claimed their sixth-consecutive title, and have an unassailable 177-point lead over Ferrari (435 points), who have a 112-point lead over Red Bull Racing-Honda (323 points). Ferrari can claim second in the 2019 Constructors’ Championship this weekend if they outscore Red Bull Racing-Honda by 21 points or more.

Behind the Top Three, McLaren-Renault (111 points) have increased their grip on fourth, while Renault (68 points), after the disqualifications of both their cars from the 2019 Japanese Grand Prix, are slipping back into the clutches of Scuderia Toro Rosso-Honda (62 points), and Racing Point-BWT Mercedes (58 points), with Alfa Romeo Racing-Ferrari (35 points) and Haas-Ferrari (28 points) in a battle for eighth, while Williams-Mercedes (one point) look set to remain in last barring a minor miracle in the last four races.

So, who will win the 2019 Mexico Grand Prix?

Mercedes have a poor recent record at Autódromo Hermanos Rodríguez due to the track characteristics in part, but more specifically the higher than usual altitude, which affects the usual cooling package of their car, meaning that they have to allow more air into the car to cool various components, including components within the power-unit, thus reducing the overall performance of the car.

With that being the case, I look towards both Ferrari and Red Bull Racing-Honda, and while Ferrari have shown a great upturn in form since the mid-season break generally, I am going to tip Max Verstappen to grab his third race victory of 2019, and place heavy pressure on Charles Leclerc in the battle for third in the world championship.

And, with that, the championship battle between Lewis Hamilton and Valtteri Bottas will continue onto the United States!