7th will do, but Hamilton targets win

MEXICO CITY • Lewis Hamilton will likely wrap up his fifth Formula One world title at the Mexican Grand Prix on Sunday, just like he did last year, but he will want to do it with rather more determination and style this time round.

He finished ninth then and was lapped in a high-altitude race that Red Bull's Max Verstappen won.

Perhaps that is why he is still publicly taking nothing for granted. But, with a 70-point lead over Ferrari's Sebastian Vettel who has 276, the Hermanos Rodriguez circuit looks set for the Mercedes driver's latest coronation.

After all, Vettel can take the title only by winning the remaining three races, while hoping that the leader fails to score the five points needed to put the challenge to bed.

Seventh place this weekend would do the trick for Hamilton, who admitted to thinking strategically at the United States GP when trying to pass Verstappen for second in Texas, but the 33-year-old is going for the win.

"I know the guys will do great analysis in the next couple of days and we'll come strong in the next race," he told reporters in the Mexican capital.

Teammate Valtteri Bottas may also feel he has a chance of standing on top of the podium for the first time this year, since a win for the Finn hands Hamilton the title.

And securing the constructors' crown for the fifth year in a row will not be far from the minds of both Hamilton and Bottas. Mercedes are on 563 points, 66 ahead of Ferrari with a maximum of 86 still to be won after Mexico.

"We have a battle on our hands and we will have to keep pushing to win both titles," team boss Toto Wolff said.

The thinner air should mean Ferrari and Mercedes have less of an engine advantage, opening up a window of opportunity for Red Bull. "That's what helped us last year and we're hopeful it will do the same again," said team boss Christian Horner.

"Realistically, it's our last shot at winning a race between now and the end of the year."

REUTERS

F1 MEXICAN GP

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on October 26, 2018, with the headline '7th will do, but Hamilton targets win'. Print Edition | Subscribe