The stars of F1 are back in business this weekend on this side of the globe. We already know that Mercedes has locked up the constructors championship this season. But, what about the drivers? Three years in-a-row now, the title was wrapped up in Mexico. Will it happen on Sunday?
Lewis Hamilton leads his Mercedes teammate of Valtteri Bottas by 64 points as he searches for his sixth career title. Hamilton, has won the drivers championship in all but once year under this hybrid era and looks for another crown in 2019. The only time that he didn’t win a championship since 2014 was in 2016 when another Mercedes driver in Nico Rosberg did.
So, can he clinch this weekend?
Numbers say, yes. He just needs to gain 14 points on his teammate Valtteri Bottas over the course of the weekend. If he can do so, he’ll leave Mexico for the third straight year with the championship in hand.
If he wants to do that though, he’ll likely have to win. That’s something Mercedes started off doing well in Mexico going 2-for-2, but 0-for-2 since.
So, how does Hamilton clinch?
If Hamilton wins, a feat he hasn’t done in the Mexican Grand Prix since 2016, then Valtteri Bottas has to finish fourth or worse so long as he sets the fastest lap and gain an extra bonus point. Bottas, has done so in two of the last three years. He was runner-up in 2017, but eighth in 2016 and fifth last year. If Hamilton doesn’t set the fastest lap, the Bottas has to finish fifth or worse.
If Hamilton finishes second, then Bottas has to finish seventh or better. If he finishes third, then Bottas has to finish ninth or better.
Hamilton, has five podiums in his last six tries on the season, so a podium isn’t out of reach but he also hasn’t finished on the podium in Mexico since that 2016 win. In fact, he hasn’t led a lap there since 2016. Bottas, won the last race of the season and was second the race prior. He has three top two’s in his last four starts on the year and five podiums in his last six. He too has never led a lap in Mexico though.
Odds are, the Ferrari’s and Red Bull’s will dominate the podium. Qualifying is so crucial on this track as every winner since 1990 has come from the front row. Mercedes, hasn’t won a pole since Germany.
To me, barring a disaster for Bottas, Hamilton will have to save his clinching to COTA.