Sebastian Vettel, Lewis Hamilton, Circuit of the Americas, 2017

Hamilton’s inevitable title win? Five Mexican GP talking points

2018 Mexican Grand Prix

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Lewis Hamilton can win the title, Romain Grosjean is at risk of a ban and Red Bull see an opportunity to win. Here’s the Mexican Grand Prix talking points.

Will Hamilton seal the deal?

Unless Sebastian Vettel knocks it out of the (Magdalena Mixhuca) park, and Hamilton gets lost on the way to the track, this one is as good as over.

Nothing less than a win will do for the Ferrari man if he’s to stop Hamilton getting his hands on the silverware – and overtaking him in terms of how many championships they’ve won.

Mercedes can also clinch the championship this weekend, though they’ll need a much more competitive showing than they managed last time out.

Ferrari’s resurgence

Ferrari stopped the rot in Austin with their first victory since the Belgian Grand Prix. But how much of this was down to the red cars becoming more competitive, and how much of it was Mercedes hitting trouble?

Clearly Ferrari transformed the pace of its car and, according to Vettel, did so by removing several months’ worth of downgrades. A bittersweet trade-off, as he surely must be wondering how much quicker they might have been in Singapore, Russia and Japan without their ‘upgrades’.

But it’s equally clear Mercedes were not as sharp in Austin. Hamilton indicated there were various factors at work, but suspicion has fallen on a pre-race change the team made to seal holes in its rear wheels, apparently fearing a potential protest from Ferrari, which undid their recent progress with tyre temperature management.

Both Mercedes drivers struggled with their tyres in the race. With more hot conditions likely this weekend, that isn’t going to get any easier for them.

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Can Grosjean avoid a ban?

Romain Grosjean, Haas, Silverstone, 2018
Grosjean is in a perilous position
Romain Grosjean earned his 10th penalty point of the current 12-month period in Austin, and is at risk of picking up a one-race ban if he received another two penalty points this weekend. This is a worry for Haas, as if he picks up those penalty points in practice or qualifying he will not be able to start the race.

Neither of the team’s reserve drivers Santino Ferrucci and Arjun Maini have sufficient FIA superlicence points to stand in for Grosjean if he were to receive a ban. The likeliest solution might be to draft in their engine supplier Ferrari’s simulator driver (and 2019 Sauber pilot) Antonio Giovinazzi.

If he gets through the weekend cleanly Grosjean will have one point deducted from his tally on Monday. That will leave him on a still-risky nine points for the Brazilian Grand Prix, after which he will lose another two before the next race.

Home goal for Perez?

Force India are creeping closer to McLaren in their bid for sixth place in the championship. The two teams are separated by 11 points – reduced by one due to Esteban Ocon’s disqualification in Austin.

Perez is the team’s leading scorer though there isn’t much in it. Ocon would be just one point behind had it not been for the fuel flow sensor violation which led to his exclusion last time out. The competition for bragging rights at Force India will be particularly fierce between the pair who’ve had a strained relationship over the past two years.

Curiously, Perez hasn’t finished in front of his team mate at his home race since it returned to the calendar in 2015. If he finally manages it this weekend he could bring Force India a step closer to the championship target and boost his chances of ending the year in front of Ocon.

Red Bull’s last chance for another 2018 win?

Red Bull has identified this race as their best chance to win a grand prix before the end of the season. The high altitude and thinner air makes it harder for their rivals to assert their usual straight-line speed advantage.

The team will revert to Renault’s spec two engine for reliability reasons. Max Verstappen scored a superb win at the track last year and Daniel Ricciardo is desperately looking for a clean weekend after his seventh retirement of the year last Sunday.

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Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

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29 comments on “Hamilton’s inevitable title win? Five Mexican GP talking points”

  1. I’d argue ‘will Vettel spin again’ deserves an honorable mention

    1. @mrboerns – yeah, although it seems like the real question that needs asking is “by tapping whom?”

      1. He never taps twice, so it must be one of the other 16 drivers.
        I’d say Bottas or Raikkonen.

        1. @coldfly – ah, so that’s what they meant when they said he’s as quick as lightning? Silly me.

          1. It also explains why his strikes did not impact the other drivers; with the halo they’re in a Faraday Cage, and the rubber tyres prevent the shock to do any harm ;)
            @phylyp

    2. Im waiting for a website in the style of hasvettelspuntoday.com

    3. Don’t be so harsh, try to go against a rap god and your head would spin right round, right round

      1. So maybe Hamilton should start using bling-rims with spinners once he hits the big 5 with ‘Fan-G-OH!’ .Also some pink neon lights under the floor might be in order for Abu Dhabi

  2. I remember on the Real top gear with jeremy clarkson (not the recent fake 1) when hamilton was being interviewed and they asked him about whether its the car or the driver that makes the difference in respect of vettel then winning those championships with redbull and he said its the car. Well i have to agree with him vettel in about equal machinery realy has dropped the ball too many times.

  3. Has Wolff said the “Championship is far from over” yet this week?

      1. Mexican GP drinking game!

        1. Not a very good one though once Vettel had his obligatory opening donut

      2. He’s talking about the WCC though right? (which is far from over given Ferrari’s pace in the US GP)

  4. According to the weather forecast, there’s quite a good chance of rain across the whole weekend. If it’s a wet race I expect Hamilton to win but if not with hot weather Mercedes could struggle with their tyres again.

    Unfortunately for Vettel I think Max could have the package to win, should be entertaining for sure.

    1. Rain is bad news for Ferrari if it happens. Cancels out their advantage, and if Hamilton can’t stay on track for whatever reason, Verstappen can also deliver the win Vettel needs.

      The fact Mercedes had to ‘undo’ the solution to their tyre issues while Ferrari have had the entire season with a big question mark over whatever their up to with their power unit is, well, mildly annoying, but I guess Mercedes are better playing safe.

  5. Inevitable? Yeah pretty much guaranteed. Even if Vettel wins he needs bad luck to hit Hamilton to stay in the game.

    I suppose it would be a stunning turn of luck and form if Vettel and Ferrari did turn this around and took both championships though. It would make for one of the most dramatic and shocking years in a long time.

    1. If it got turned around from here, I’d say it was one of the most dramatic and shocking events in sport! It’s more likely that Ferrari will decide to move to Germany and paint their cars blue!

    2. Problem for Vettel is even if Lewis has a shocker in the remaining races there is still Bottas and the Red Bulls to spoil his party.

    3. Vettel would need to win all three races, and Hamilton would need to be in hospital.

      As long as Hamilton averages 9th place or better, he wins.

      1. Yes, again you can even send hamilton in hospital, or holiday; vettel will not win all 3 races no matter what, and as such lose the title, so unless he gets hamilton to do an unsportsmanlike move like schumacher 1997 jerez, he’s done.

  6. Amazing to think that in 2013, Vettel had 4 times the amount of championships compared to Lewis and now, Lewis is (most certainly) going to overtake him. I know it’s important to keep perspective- ie Lewis’ masterstroke decision to move to Merc and it paying off handsomely etc. I remember back then in 2013 thinking it would be Seb threatening Schumi’s pole, win and WDC records… How it’s all turned out so differently. Vettel still has time to turn it around yet but at this point I am actually questioning whether Seb will win another championship at Ferrari who are seemingly on a downward spiral (again).

    1. All depends who gets the dominant car next…..

      1. True, especially with new regulations next year.

      2. Vettel had it this year.

    2. to be honest Ferrari look like they’re on an upgoing spiral. Forgetting the deviation of races between spa and US, the season is overall a high following a lower high in 2017. that’s upward going

  7. Will Hamilton seal the deal? – Yes.
    Can Grosjean avoid a ban? – Yes.
    Home goal for Perez? – Possibly.
    Red Bull’s last chance for another 2018 win? – Possibly.

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