We’re nearing the final stretch of the 2019 Formula One season. This weekend’s Mexican Grand Prix marks the fourth to last race of the year. Here’s the race preview.
How to Tune In
Coverage – 2:30 p.m. ET
TV – ABC
Race Distance – 71 Laps/189.738 Miles
Country – Mexico
Track – Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez
Defending Winner – Max Verstappen
Championship Battle, A 4th Straight Year Title Is Clinched In Mexico?
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’s clinched the championship in each of the last two years in Mexico in fact.
If Hamilton wins, a feat he hasn’t done in the Mexican Grand Prix since 2016, then Valttier 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. Bottas, won the last race 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.
Hamilton, also was ninth in 2017 and fourth last year, so chances are, he doesn’t actually clinch this weekend.
Basically, he has to gain 14 or more points on Bottas this weekend. That will be difficult.
100th Mercedes Win?
When F1 started coming back to Mexico in 2015, it started off as Mercedes’ playground. They won in each of the first two years. Now, they’re looking to end a recent two year skid.
They have won two straight races on the season and sit 1-2 in the drivers standings. They’ve also wrapped up the constructors championship as well. Can they earn a sixth straight drivers title and for the fourth straight year do so in Mexico?
If so, they’ll want a win to accomplish that. A win for Mercedes on Sunday for either Hamilton or Bottas would score them their 100th Grand Prix victory.
The problem is, they don’t think that they serve much of a chance.
The Ferrari’s have the most speed in them and the track layout in Mexico has a lot of high speed straights. They’re the favorites if this race is won on pure speed. If not, Max Verstappen has won in each of the last two years there. That’s three cars that should be better than them.
That’s why Hamilton hasn’t finished better than fourth since his Mexican Grand Prix win in 2016. That’s also the last time he led a lap there as well. Bottas, has never led a lap in Mexico himself.
Plus, they haven’t been qualifying well lately either.
They haven’t won a pole since Germany, six races ago. For Hamilton, that’s his longest pole drought since 2015. Bottas, has never qualified in the top three on this race track either.
Ferrari’s, have won every pole since the summer break ended until Saturday. With every winner on this track coming from the front row since 1990, that doesn’t bode well for a Hamilton or Bottas win Sunday who will start fourth and sixth respectively.
Can Ferrari’s Stay In The Hunt?
The Mercedes drivers say that they don’t have much of a chance this weekend. The Mexican course features some high speed straights and the Ferrari’s have the top pace in those areas already this season. Plus, they’ve had some good speed in qualifying too.
The Prancing Horse’s have now won every pole since summer break. They’ll start 1-2 on Sunday. That’s good news for them because every race run in Mexico since 1990 has been won from the front row. Ferrari has won three of the last five races on the season as well.
Sebastian Vettel was fifth in 2016, fourth in 2017 and second last year. Trends say he will win on Sunday. He was runner-up in the last race of the season in Japan and first two races prior in Singapore. He rolls off second.
Charles LeClerc was seventh with Sauber last year and has four podiums in his last six starts on the season including two wins. He starts from the pole.
Verstappen 3 Peat?
Max Verstappen has sort of hit a rough patch on his season. He has just one podium in his last four tries including two DNF’s. But, Mexico could be just what the doctor ordered for him.
Verstappen, has won in each of the last two years on the road course and should have a better car than the Mercedes duo this weekend. He will start fourth.
Albon A Sleeper?
Alex Albon has quietly been good since he joined the big Red Bull team this season. He’s scored a point in every race since German including six finishes inside of the top six. He’s actually outscored his teammate Max Verstappen in the last five races as well.
Verstappen, has won this race in each of the last two years and Mercedes looks vulnerable this weekend. We’ve seen the Ferrari’s have the best two cars a lot of times this year but not capitalize in terms of a victory. Verstappen, has two DNF’s in the last four races and one podium in that timeframe too.
Albon, could be a benefactor of all of this on Sunday. He starts fifth.
It will be hard to beat a Red Bull, Ferrari or Mercedes on Sunday, but don’t count out some sleepers for top fives either.
Lando Norris has three top 10 finishes in his last four starts on the season. Home country hero Sergio Perez has three top 10’s in four tries on his home circuit to go along with four top 10’s in his last five starts on the season as well.
Kimi Raikkonen was sixth in this race in 2016 and third in each of the last two years.
Nico Hulkenberg has three top seven finishes in four starts in Mexico to go along with five straight races with a top 10 on the season too.
5 Vettel – He was was quickest in Friday’s practice and second on Saturday’s. Vettel, starts second after being fifth in 2016, fourth in 2017 and second last year. Trends say he will win on Sunday.
16 Leclerc – He was second, third and first in practice and rolls off first.
33 Verstappen – He initially thought he would start on the pole. Instead, a grid penalty drops him to fourth. Verstappen, won this race in each of the last two years but can’t get past the Ferrari’s for a third consecutive win in Mexico.
44 Hamilton – He hasn’t had a podium in Mexico since his 2016 win. That doesn’t change this weekend.
23 Albon – It goes chalk. Albon, has five straight top six finishes entering this weekend and will make it six on Sunday.