2018 Mexican Grand Prix – Preview

Kimi Räikkönen took his 21st career race victory in Formula One, but his first since the 2013 Australian Grand Prix, when he was with the Lotus F1 Team, by taking out the 2018 United States Grand Prix, his first win in the United States, holding of Max Verstappen, who charged from 18th on the grid to claim second, and claimed the Driver of the Day award, and Lewis Hamilton, with Mercedes taking a strategic gamble by taking the pit-stop under the virtual safety car, but it backfired, but despite requiring a second pit-stop, Hamilton charged back to finish in a close third.

And with this, the 2018 FIA Formula One World Championship battle is still alive heading into the 2018 Mexican Grand Prix, Round 19 of the championship.

Hamilton (346 points) leads the world championship for Mercedes by 70 points over Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel (276 points) after another disappointing performance by the German, finishing in fourth after spinning on the opening lap when racing Daniel Ricciardo, throwing away yet another opportunity for a crucial race victory.

Behind Hamilton and Vettel in the championship, Vettel’s teammate Räikkönen (221 points) has re-taken third in the standings ahead of Hamilton’s teammate Valtteri Bottas (217 points), while Verstappen (191 points) is closing in on both of them in a close fifth for Red Bull Racing-TAG Heuer, but the Dutchman’s teammate Daniel Ricciardo (146 points) is still mathematically in the hunt, but realistically knows that sixth is the best he can do this year in the world championship after suffering his seventh retirement of the season.

However, while the battle for third in the championship is starting to heat up, the battle for seventh in the standings has been blown wide open, with Nico Hülkenberg (61 points) moving up to seventh after a sixth-place finish at the Circuit of the Americas for Renault, with Sergio Pérez (57 points) slipping one place back to eighth in the world championship after finishing in the same position at the United States Grand Prix for Force India-Mercedes.

Behind Hülkenberg and Pérez, the trio of Kevin Magnussen (53 points) for Haas-Ferrari, Fernando Alonso (50 points) for McLaren-Renault, and Esteban Ocon (49 points) for Force India-Mercedes, who in the case of Alonso retired from the United States Grand Prix, and in the case of Magnussen and Ocon were disqualified after technical breaches in regards to their fuel usage, with Magnussen using beyond the maximum 105kg of fuel, and Ocon for exceeding the fuel-flow limit on the opening lap of the grand prix, while Hülkenberg’s teammate Carlos Sainz Jr. (45 points) moves into the tussle for seventh in the world championship after finishing seventh in Austin.

Looking at the Constructors’ Championship, Mercedes (563 points) have had their lead narrowed slightly to 66 points over Ferrari (497 points), while Red Bull Racing-TAG Heuer (337 points) will finish third regardless of what happens in the final three races of the season, but behind them, Renault (106 points) have taken a firm grip on fourth ahead of Haas-Ferrari (84 points), while Force India-Mercedes (47 points) close in on McLaren-Renault (58 points) for sixth, a tight battle continues for eighth in the championship between Scuderia Toro Rosso-Honda (32 points) and Sauber-Ferrari (28 points), while Williams-Mercedes (seven points) have had a lock on 10th in the Constructors’ Championship for quite a while.

So, with the opportunity of both the Drivers’ World Championship, and the Constructors’ World Championship to be claimed this weekend by Lewis Hamilton and Mercedes respectively, this is how they can do it.

For Hamilton to claim his fifth world championship at the Autódromo Hermanos Rodríguez in Mexico City:

  1. If Vettel wins, Hamilton must finish 7th or higher.
  2. If Vettel doesn’t win, Hamilton becomes a five-time Formula One World Champion.

For Mercedes to claim their fifth-straight Constructors World Championship at the 2018 Mexican Grand Prix, Mercedes must out-score Ferrari by 20 points or more.

So, who will win in Mexico?

Red Bull Racing-TAG Heuer have been targeting this race as a chance to grab a win before the 2018 season comes to an end, and judging by their form in Austin, they are a strong chance of success, and with the high altitude reducing the power-unit advantage of Mercedes and Ferrari, you could see a race victory from either Max Verstappen or Daniel Ricciardo, and if that happens, Lewis Hamilton will be a five-time world champion.

Advertisements

2017 Mexican Grand Prix – Preview

The 18th round of the 2017 Fédération Internationale de l’Automobile (FIA) Formula One World Championship takes place this weekend at the Autódromo Hermanos Rodríguez, which is about eight kilometres south-east of the city centre of Mexico City, and after Mercedes took out the Constructors’ World Championship for the fourth year in a row, Lewis Hamilton will have his second opportunity to claim his fourth world championship of his career in Mexico.

Hamilton (331 points) leads the championship in his Mercedes by 66 points over Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel (265 points) with just three rounds remaining after taking a superb victory at the Circuit of the Americas in Austin, Texas, taking the lead of the race from Vettel on Lap Six after the German won the battle of the start, before Hamilton went onto dominate the rest of the race to take a marvellous victory.

Hamilton is currently showing to the world that he is in career-best form, and while Ferrari have shown improved form in 2017 to challenge Mercedes throughout large parts of the year, Hamilton and Mercedes have really lifted their games, while Ferrari have crumbled under their own pressure, with reliability issues at Malaysia and Japan, as well as the costly chaos at the start of the Singapore Grand Prix really hurting Vettel’s chances of winning a fifth world championship.

Valtteri Bottas (244 points) is third in the championship, but out of mathematical championship contention, finishing the United States Grand Prix in fifth position after struggling for speed once again in comparison to his teammate Hamilton.

However, Bottas is still comfortably ahead of Red Bull driver Daniel Ricciardo (192 points), who sadly had to retire from the United States Grand Prix due to an engine issue. Ricciardo is still comfortably ahead of Ferrari driver Kimi Räikkönen (163 points), and his fellow Red Bull teammate Max Verstappen (123 points) as we head into the final three races of the season.

In the Constructors’ Championship, Mercedes (575 points) have clinched their fourth-successive title, and have an unassailable 147 point lead over Ferrari (428 points). Red Bull (315 points) are third in the championship, with Force India (159 points) unable to catch them in fourth, while Williams (68 points) have pulled away from Toro Rosso (53 points) in the battle for fifth in the championship, with Toro Rosso know battling Renault (48 points) and Haas (43 points) for sixth in the Constructors’ Championship, while McLaren (23 points) and Sauber (five points) bring up the rear of the field.

So, for Hamilton to clinch his fourth world championship at the Mexican Grand Prix, one of these scenarios must happen:

  1. If Vettel wins the race, Hamilton must finish fifth or higher.
  2. If Vettel finishes in second, Hamilton must finish ninth or higher.
  3. If Vettel finishes third or lower, Hamilton is the world champion!

So, who will win the Mexican Grand Prix?

The cars will run with maximum downforce to deal with the lack of air density, which will mean that the cars will still be very fast on the straights, faster than even at Monza, despite the huge amount of downforce on the cars, so it will be important to find a good, strong balance with the cars to be competitive.

If this race was held earlier in the season, I would have tipped Ferrari, and Sebastian Vettel to win the Mexican Grand Prix due to the characteristics of the circuit, and because Ferrari had the stronger car at that point of the season.

However, while Ferrari are still strong, Mercedes have seemingly sorted out their strange issues that they have experienced with their cars at times during 2017, and Lewis Hamilton is in seemingly unbeatable form right as we speak, but we shouldn’t count out Red Bull challenging for the win in Mexico as they are getting better and better as the season has gone on.

My tip for the Mexican Grand Prix is for a Hamilton victory to seal a fourth world championship crown.

 

The first two practice sessions (90 minutes each) are on Friday at 10am and 2pm local time (Saturday 2am and 6am AEDT).

The final practice session (60 minutes) and qualifying is on Saturday at 10am and 1pm local time (Sunday 2am and 5am AEDT).

The 56 lap race is on Sunday from 1pm local time (Monday 5am AEDT).