Verstappen wants to stop Hamilton from clinching world title by winning in Mexico

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Max Verstappen says he is ready to stop Lewis Hamilton sealing the world championship in style by beating him to victory at the Mexican Grand Prix.

Hamilton, who arrived south of the American border on Wednesday, needs to finish only seventh to be sure of his fifth title.

But the Briton, 70 points clear of Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel with only 75 remaining, will want to make up for his failure to win last weekend by taking the chequered flag on Sunday.

Verstappen, 21, was victorious in Mexico last year, and the Red Bull driver, fresh from his impressive run from 18th to second in Austin, Texas, believes he has the car underneath him to triumph again.

“This is definitely the best chance for me to win out of the last three races,” he said.

“In qualifying, we may not have a chance, but in the race we seem to be working well, so I expect this to better than Austin.

“But Lewis will want to win, so I don’t think that will change anything.”

The high altitude of the Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez, which sits 2,200 metres above sea level, acts as an equaliser in engine performance.

Therefore, the Renault in the back of Verstappen’s Red Bull, usually inferior to the might of Mercedes and Ferrari, is likely to be closer this weekend.

“Performance at altitude is more about mechanical grip, and our car is very good mechanically,” Verstappen added.

“That is why we will be more competitive on this track than others, even if there is a super-long straight. Physically, the high altitude is not a big deal.”

Hamilton clinched his fourth championship in Mexico last year, despite crossing the line only ninth after colliding with Vettel on the opening lap.

Vettel, who made the eighth and ninth errors of his mistake-ridden campaign in the US last weekend, must also win on Sunday to stand any chance of stopping Hamilton.

But the German driver arrives here under a cloud following his recent troubles.

For much of this season, Ferrari have had the superior machinery over Mercedes, but it is Hamilton who is set to prevail with, for the second season running, two rounds to spare.

Would Verstappen have won the title for the Scuderia?

“I am not driving for them, so I don’t want to comment,” came his diplomatic response.

Asked why he felt Vettel had made so many mistakes this season, he replied: “I can only look at myself so it makes no sense to speak about another driver. I don’t want to p*** anybody off.”

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Lewis Hamilton stands on the brink of fifth title and other talking points ahead of Mexican GP

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Lewis Hamilton heads to Mexico City with a second shot at winning the world championship.

The Mercedes star needs to finish only seventh to wrap up the fifth world title of his career.

Here, we look at the key talking points ahead of Sunday’s race.

Hamilton stands on the brink

Lewis Hamilton’s championship challenge rolls over to Mexico this weekend after his failure to get the job completed in the US.

It seems highly probable that the Englishman will emulate Juan Manuel Fangio by winning his fifth world title.

The Mercedes driver needs just five points to beat Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel for a second straight year.

Hamilton won the title in Mexico last season, and if he is seventh or higher when he takes the chequered flag, he will repeat his 2017 feat.

And given that the 33-year-old has finished no lower than fifth in the 17 races he has finished this season, it would appear a formality.

It is also worth noting that Vettel must win all three remaining rounds to stand any chance of stopping Hamilton.

The mistaken-ridden German, however, has won just once since the summer break.

Over to you, Lewis.

Rosberg: Vettel has “been all over the place”

Vettel will be counting down the days to the end of the season.

For the opening half of this year, it appeared as though Vettel and his Ferrari machinery may have what it takes to stop Hamilton’s Mercedes juggernaut.

But, on danger of visiting old ground, Vettel’s challenge has fallen apart following a catalogue of mistakes, not least in the United States last week when he collided with Daniel Ricciardo’s Red Bull on the opening lap.

Indeed, the German has spun in three (Italy and Japan being the others) of the last five rounds.

“The championship is all about consistency, and Vettel has done the opposite,” Nico Rosberg, the man who beat Hamilton to the 2016 title, told F1’s Beyond the Grid podcast. “He’s been all over the place in the last few months.

It has been so one-sided since the summer, it’s unbelievable. It is the result of mistakes, and you are never going to beat Lewis like that because Lewis doesn’t make mistakes.”

Sell-out crowd await Hamilton’s title coronation

The Mexican Grand Prix, which returned to the calendar in 2015 after a two-decade absence, has been a real success, and tickets for Sunday have already sold out.

The race at the Autodrom Hermanos Rodriguez takes place a staggering 2,000 metres above sea level, and the high altitude presents a unique series of challenges to both man and machinery.

Red Bull fared well here last year, with Max Verstappen taking the chequered flag, and don’t be surprised to see them challenging both Mercedes and Ferrari again this weekend.

Should Friday practice be scrapped?

There is a growing feeling that Friday’s schedule, which features three hours of testing, is in desperate need of a revamp.

The lack of practice dry running in the US meant teams were unable to collate all the data they normally would have, contributing to the unpredictable nature of a thrilling race.

Race promoters are understandably hesitant against abolishing practice altogether with tickets sold separately for Friday’s running.

Ross Brawn, F1’s motorsport boss, however, has hinted that he wants to make a change.

He said: “Does less data produce a better show? It is definitely more uncertain and therefore another topic for discussion when looking at ways to make our sport even more exciting.”

F1 proves it’s got the X Factor

The US Grand Prix proved a TV hit with 5.5million tuning in to watch the Austin race, the sport’s biggest UK audience in nearly three years.

The race was shown on both Channel 4 and Sky Sports, and courted a bigger combined audience than the X Factor on ITV.

The race in Mexico however, will be screened exclusively by Sky, with a live viewership likely to be nearer one million for Hamilton’s probable championship coronation.

Channel 4 will continue to show highlights packages next year, but they will only have one race, the British Grand Prix, live.

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Claire Williams believes George Russell has what it takes to deal with the pressure of F1

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George Russell has got what it takes to deal with the pressure of being Formula One’s next big thing, his new boss Claire Williams has said.

Russell, 20, was confirmed as a driver for Williams earlier this month, joining Lewis Hamilton and McLaren rookie Lando Norris as the third Briton on the grid in 2019.

The young Englishman boasts an impressive record in motor racing’s junior categories, and is set to enhance his blossoming CV by clinching the Formula Two championship, F1’s feeder series, in Abu Dhabi next month.

All eyes will be on Russell when he becomes the first British driver to race for Williams since Jenson Button, nearly two decades ago, at the season opener in Melbourne, Australia.

“The pressure is going to be on George,” deputy team principal Williams said. “But he is mature, and he will be able to handle that pressure.

“He is an individual who knows what he wants, and he works hard to go after it. That is what I love about him, his sheer determination.

“As an overall package, George has got it, and he is going to be a really bright talent of the future in Formula One.”

A Mercedes junior driver, Russell initiated his move to the British constructor by making contact with Williams at the German Grand Prix in July.

A little over two months later, Russell had signed on the dotted line, posing with Sir Frank Williams, and Claire, at the team’s Oxfordshire HQ.

Sir Frank, 76, remains team principal, but is rarely seen in the paddock these days, attending only the British Grand Prix this season.

“Frank loves George,” Claire added. “George is very British and Frank really enjoys that.

“Just the fact that he is called George, too. When I say his name, it sounds like I have got my headmistress voice on. If he gets into trouble, it is not going to be much fun listening to me.”

Russell, 6ft 2in tall but weighing just 68 kilograms, will be one of the tallest drivers in the sport.

“Frank’s main concern is always ‘how tall are you? And how much do you weigh?’ So, poor George had quite a lot of that from him,” Claire added.

“He is tall, and there is nothing to him. The weight issue will be a worry, but he has had his seat fitted, and we know he gets into the chassis.

“Frank loves bringing in any new talent to Formula One, and particularly one with the potential George has. He can really get behind that, and buy into it.”

Russell, reserve driver for Mercedes, will be in Mexico City this coming weekend to watch at close quarters Hamilton’s probable championship coronation.

Hamilton, 33, needs to finish only seventh on Sunday to secure his fifth world title.

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