Johannesburg – The Formula One season enters its final stretch this weekend at the Mexico Grand Prix. Five races remain in the calendar, including Sunday’s event, and the pressure will certainly be building in the paddock.
Not only are Red Bull and Mercedes fighting it out between protagonists Max Verstappen and Lewis Hamilton, but there are battles a plenty all around the grid. Just behind the front-runners, McLaren and Ferrari are locked in an epic struggle for third-place in the constructors’ championship; and just behind them, AlphaTauri and Alpine are in a similar tussle.
After Mexico, Interlagos in São Paulo awaits, followed by the Qatar GP, then the street-circuit of Saudi Arabia, before the season-ending Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.
At the moment, Verstappen enjoys a 12 point lead in the drivers’ championship and should be considered the slight favourite to claim the top step on the podium late Sunday night. Hamilton, however, has won in Mexico – in 2019 – despite the perceived advantage that the Red Bull-powered Honda possesses.
And win he must, especially after losing out at the United States Grand Prix in Austin, Texas, now a fortnight ago. The major concern building at the Silver Arrows is that the seven-time world champion will possibly have to take another power-unit in the coming weeks, and incur another grid penalty.
With the title race so close, and the schedule closing in, he needs to make the best of his title defence now to stave off a much matured Verstappen.
The Dutchman had an impeccable drive at the Circuit of the Americas – it was the type of drive that wins championships. If he collects 25 points at the Autódromo Hermanos Rodríguez and Hamilton finishes a hypothetical second, he will open a 19 point gap going into another Red Bull track.
Likewise, if the positions are switched, then Hamilton will have closed the gap down to five points.
Hamilton is a living legend, so if there is any driver that can make a fist of it, despite the supposed disadvantages, it is the Brit.
Lights out is at 9pm on Sunday.