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2017 Mexico Grand Prix: Hamilton on the Threshold of Greatness

There are some out there that feel that Lewis Hamilton’s world titles at Mercedes came because he had the best car under him and some would give more credit to the cars that Mercedes have built than to the driver. Truth of the matter is that to win one world title is hard enough. Just look at how much it took out of Nico Rosberg. To win three takes astounding dedication and drive, not only from the driver but from everyone in the team. Hamilton, on the threshold of becoming World Champion for the 4th time, should be admired and respected and if he does clinch the title this weekend, he’ll become the most successful British driver in Formula One history.

Hamilton heads into the Mexico Grand Prix weekend a massive 66 points ahead of Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel in the drivers’ championship and only needs to finish 5th or higher to become world champion. It won’t matter if Vettel wins, unless Hamilton is lower than 5th. A scenario that is quite unlikely given the bulletproof reliability of the Mercedes power unit this season.

After the United States Grand Prix Vettel looked resigned to the fact that he had lost the world title. It was a race that he needed to win but the pace of Hamilton in the Mercedes was too much for Ferrari. Ferrari will not give up and neither will Vettel as long as there is a chance. Hamilton, of course, is never going to take it easy. He’s a sportsman and he will do everything he can to win the race.

Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez

This is the 3rd installment of the Mexico Grand Prix in modern F1. The circuit is 4.304km long with 17 corners. A mix of high-speed sweeps and slow technical sections brings some balance to the circuit. The long straight preceded by the long right-handed Turn 17 sees cars reaching speeds upwards of 360km/h with a tow and DRS before Turn 1. The cars this year, with the increased downforce, are not expected to reach those speeds.

Teams tend to run full downforce setups around the Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez despite the high-speed nature of the circuit due to the high elevation of the circuit. The highest point of the circuit is at Turn 6 with an elevation of 2 229m above sea level. Higher elevation means the thinner air than at sea level, the thinner the air, the harder the wings and diffusers need to work.

Pirelli goes a step softer

Pirelli has brought the yellow marked soft, the red marked super soft, and the purple marked ultra soft tyres to the Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez. It’s the first time the ultra soft will meet the tarmac in Mexico since the first race in 2015. We should see some lap records being broken this weekend.

The asphalt around the circuit is relatively new and quite smooth which puts degradation in the lower end of the scale. The twisty middle sector and slow final sector should put the ultra soft to the test.

Weather this weekend is expected to be mild so thermal degradation should be low as well.

Teams will have to get to grips with the ultra soft since it will be used for the first time. Although it will be used as a qualifying tyre, the long run pace and degradation will be important as it is expected to be a one stop race.

Mid-Field Battle for Supremacy

The top four positions in the Constructors’ Championship are all but confirmed with Mercedes already winning the Constructors’ Championship at the US Grand Prix.

The battle for 5th between Williams (68 points), Toro Rosso (53 points), Renault (48 points) and Haas (43 points) is reaching the business end in these final few races and you can expect some hard racing between them.

The circuit characteristics of the Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez should favour the Williams setup, but Renault with Carlos Sainz and Nico Hulkenberg are not far from closing the gap to the Grove-based outfit and Toro Rosso.

Toro Rosso who have Pierre Gasly and Brendon Hartley in the cars for what looks like the remaining races of the season will find it hard to hold off Renault in these final few and if Haas can get their balance issues sorted out, could potentially overhaul Toro Rosso who are just 10 points behind the Faenza based team.

As much fun as it was watching the title challenge unfold, it’s worth keeping an eye on the battle in the mid-field. We can expect some great racing and epic battles between the teams and drivers.

About Ritesh K Bhana

Ritesh likes to think he is a true Tifosi, but he still remains fair to other teams. He supports two other teams which are not Red Bull and McLaren. Follow Ritesh on twitter @Humanshield_1

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