“Ah Mejico, mucho bueno!” That’s how Aussie Daniel Ricciardo so eloquently and gleefully previewed the upcoming 2018 edition of the Mexican Grand Prix. Let’s just hope he is cracking funnies from the top step of the podium once the chequered flag has fallen.
Under normal circumstances, the aim of the Formula 1 game is ‘race to win’, but for reigning world champion Lewis Hamilton, a mere 7th place finish or higher in this week’s Mexican Grand Prix will be sufficient in order for the Englishman to claim his 5th F1 World Driver’s Championship.
With just the Brazilian and Abu Dhabi Grands Prix to follow this week’s battle in Mexico, Hamilton’s only rival for the championship, German driver Sebastian Vettel would essentially need to win all 3 races and hope that Lewis himself fails to finish all three inside the points scoring positions. It’s a highly unlikely scenario and one that has Hamilton with one hand on the trophy.
But Lewis himself can’t deny the help he has received from teammate Valtteri Bottas at various stages throughout the Mercedes’ 2018 campaign and it will be interesting to see, if the opportunity arises, whether Hamilton will repay the Finn by moving over and gifting his ‘wingman’ a victory.
One man who who will find it hard to win this weekend is Haas driver Romain Grosjean who was slapped with a deserved 3-place grid penalty after recklessly ploughing into the side of Charles Leclerc’s Sauber in the USA last weekend.
The Mexican track was only reintroduced to the calendar back in 2015 after a 13-year hiatus and the 2018 installment will mark the 20th running of the race as a Formula One event in Mexico.
With a total of 17 corners at a length of 4.3km, The ‘Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez’ is rather unique in that it contains one of the fastest, and slowest sections of racetrack in the entire F1 calendar. Drivers take turn 13 at a frustratingly pedestrian 60 kmh, before heading on to the 1.2km long start/finish straight to start a new lap. At this point these impressive pieces of machinery top out at a whopping 360 kmh in 8th gear.
There has been a different winner in the 3 Mexican GP’s since the event’s return in 2015 (Rosberg, Hamilton, Verstappen respectively) and hopefully for Aussie fans, Dan Ricciardo can add his name to that list after a horror, recent run where he has suffered 5 DNFs in 10 races.
Mexico Grand Prix: Track Lap with Kevin Magnussen
Drivers to Watch
Max Verstappen has been clinical since the European summer break, having notched up 4 podiums in 6 races and not finishing worse than 5th. He won here last year and performs above expectations in Mexico. With the track being one of the least abrasive on tyres, Verstappen’s Red Bull, arguably the best handling chassis on the grid, looks set for another top 3 finish.
Sebastian Vettel would rather forget the races following the summer break and his Ferrari hasn’t won a race since the Belgium Grand Prix at the end of August. The team have hinted sheepishly that they may have reverted back to their old car set up and if they indeed did, the move paid dividends as we saw Vettel’s Ferrari team mate, Kimi Raikkonen, take an emphatic win last week in Texas; his first in 5 years. If Vettel can keep his car pointing forwards for a change, the 4-time champion will be in the running for a victory come the pointy end of the race.
2018 Mexican Grand Prix Betting
Rain is a slight possibility for Friday and Saturday practice but otherwise the weather is expected to be fairly straightforward and dry. The high altitude of the location and thinner air means that the teams struggle more so than ever to generate downforce throughout the weekend; a factor that will play into the hands of the Adrian Newey designed Red Bull cars.
However, the Red Bull chassis isn’t quite a match for the raw power of the Ferrari and Mercedes’ power units and it could be status quo as far as finding the race winner is concerned.
The driver’s championship might be all but out of reach for Ferrari but the Constructor’s Championship is still alive after the Scuderia trimmed Mercedes’ lead to just 66 points in Texas and the red cars look to be a good wager for the weekend in Mexico.
Pole Position – Sebastian Vettel
Race Winner – Sebastian Vettel
Best Roughie – Valtteri Bottas
Podium Finish – Max Verstappen