By Tom Dodd
- Lewis Hamilton on verge of clinching fourth Formula 1 Drivers’ World title in Mexico this weekend
- Chaser Sebastian Vettel must win and hope Briton finishes lower than fifth to extend title race to Brazil in two weeks’ time
- Race is third in at Mexico at Autodromo Hermanos Rodruguez since race’s return to the calendar in 2015.
MEXICO CITY, MEXICO – Here are five questions ahead of Sunday’s eighteenth round of the season, as Lewis Hamilton bids for a fourth Driver’s World title.
Will a champion be crowned?
In a word. Yes. Or at least that’s what all the common sense and form of 2017 would suggest. Lewis Hamilton need only finish fifth on Sunday to claim his fourth world championship crown, and that’s assuming Sebastian Vettel can win for the first time since August. The track in Mexico City won’t favour the Silver Arrows, which means Red Bull could well be a factor, but it seems only a mechanical failure will stop Hamilton’s coronation this weekend.
That said, the Brit is due, having not retired from a race in over a year having completed every single racing lap of this season. The down-to-the-wire title fight that looked on the cards for most of the year is almost certain to be wiped off the table on Sunday afternoon. But never say never, this is Formula 1 after all…
How will Toro Rosso fare?
It’s been hard to keep track of who’s who and where in the last few weeks at Toro Rosso. After losing Carlos Sainz following the Japanese Grand Prix it was announced Daniil Kvyat, who himself had been replaced by Pierre Gasly at Suzuka, would rejoin the team in Austin to replace Gasly, who had other Formula commitments in the Far East.
Brendon Hartley – who first tested a Red Bull sponsored car in 2008 filled the other space in the team in Texas and despite Kvyat scoring a handy point for the team, it is the Russian who has made way for Gasly’s return in Mexico as the team try and find a line-up for 2018. The Italian outfit have scored just one point in the last two races and are now looking over their shoulder at Renault, who sit just five point adrift in the battle for 6th in the Constructors’.
Will Formula 1 try any more gimmicks?
Those watching on TV in Austin probably had to re-adjust their sets midway through the race as a huge shadow passed over turn one. Formula 1 themselves revealed all on Monday by announcing that they had planned the ‘Eagle’ for special effect to enhance the viewing experience.
Was it a bird?
Was it a plane?
— Formula 1 (@F1) 23. Oktober 2017
It was another step in a host of scheduled tricks planned to give the event an extra special edge. What with announcer Michael Buffer and Usain Bolt on podium-duty, Formula certainly left North America having thrown all of the glitz and glamour it could at the watch world. What, if anything, might they have lined up in Mexico?
Will track limits become an issue again?
Flashback to a year ago, Max Verstappen is penalised for track limits and is forced to hand over his place on the podium to a Ferrari driver despite walking into the waiting zone. Sound familiar? Mexico’s tight first corner at the end of Formula’s 1 longest pit straight wreaked havoc with some last year and caused the stewards to dish out many a penalty mid and post race. With the tight infield stadium section also likely to see cars concertinaed, the officials could be in for another long weekend.
Will Kimi get a free run?
After Ferrari switched Vettel’s strategy mid-race in Austin it left Kimi Raikkonen running second and with a strong car underneath him for the final part of the race at the Circuit of the Americas. The Finn, obviously, had to yield the place to the German to make sure the losses in the Drivers’ standings were limited as much as possible, but should the championship be virtually over we could see the Scuderia allow their drivers to race for the first time this season. We’re not asking for an epic battle, maybe somewhere in the middle of what we’ve seen so far this season and the first corner in Singapore.
The Mexican Grand Prix takes place between 27-29 October.
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