Lewis Hamilton could clinch his sixth world championship in Mexico on Sunday.
The Briton holds a 64-point lead over Valtteri Bottas with just 104 available.
Here, the PA news agency assesses the key talking points ahead of this weekend’s race.
History beckons for Hamilton
Lewis Hamilton will have his first shot at sewing up this year’s championship in Mexico City on Sunday. The high-altitude track is a venue at which the British star has won the title for the previous two seasons. There are a number of permutations as to how he can get the job done this weekend, but the easiest one is this: if he wins and Mercedes team-mate Valtteri Bottas is fifth or lower, the title is his.
Despite being on the cusp of a remarkable triumph that takes him to within one of Michael Schumacher’s record, Hamilton has arrived here facing questions over his frame of mind following a number of posts on Instagram last week. Hamilton took aim at the state of the planet and agriculture farming before encouraging his fans to follow him into veganism.
He then published a further message saying he was ready to “give up on everything”, and “shut down completely” because “the world is such a mess”. Hamilton will be expected to explain his social media outburst in Thursday’s press conference previewing the Mexican race.
Mercedes expecting difficult weekend
The Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez Circuit, situated a breath-sapping 2,200 metres above sea level, has not suited Mercedes in recent seasons. Indeed, the world champions have already started talking about “damage limitation” this weekend. Mercedes’ anticipated troubles could clear the way for Ferrari to continue their largely dominant form since the summer break.
Sebastian Vettel ended Charles Leclerc’s run of four straight poles in Suzuka last time out, but fluffed his start before he finished second. Leclerc started alongside Vettel on the front row but ended up in seventh after he tangled with Red Bull’s Max Verstappen on the opening lap. For all their speed in recent times, a combination of team and driver errors mean the Scuderia have secured just the single one-two finish – last month in Singapore. It is a statistic they will be keen to change on Sunday.
‘Max-ico’ bidding for treble
Red Bull could also be in a position to strike this weekend, having secured pole here last year, through Daniel Ricciardo before Max Verstappen took the chequered flag, his second triumph in Mexico City in as many seasons. Verstappen won two of the final three races heading into the sport’s summer shutdown. But the Dutchman’s Red Bull team have flattered to deceive in the five rounds since.
Verstappen had to retire at the last race following damage he sustained in his incident with Leclerc. He will hope to bounce back in his quest for a hat-trick of Mexico wins. And do not write off his team-mate, Alex Albon. The London-born Thai, fresh from a career-best fourth in Suzuka, has an outside chance of securing the first podium of his career this weekend.
Norris allays injury fears
British teenager Lando Norris alarmed fans earlier this week when he published a picture of his left leg in a brace. “It’s broken,” Norris wrote on Instagram. Following a string of concerned messages, Norris was forced to reveal his post was written in jest, and that he is fine to contest the final four rounds of the season.
Renault considering appeal
Renault will decide later on Thursday whether to contest the FIA’s decision to disqualify them from the Japanese Grand Prix. Ricciardo, who finished sixth, and his team-mate Nico Hulkenberg, who crossed the line in 10th, were judged to have been using illegal driver aides. The punishment, announced on the eve of this weekend’s race, cost Renault 10 points.
STATEMENT: @RenaultF1Team acknowledges the decision of the Stewards of the #JapaneseGP regarding the protest by @RacingPointF1 concerning the legality of Renault F1 Team’s braking system during the Japanese Grand Prix.— Renault F1 Team (@RenaultF1Team) October 23, 2019
Despite the FIA concurring with Renault... [1/4]
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