Formula One: Lewis Hamilton all set for a Mexican fiesta

Race winner Lewis Hamilton of Great Britain and Mercedes GP celebrates in parc ferme during the United States Formula One Grand Prix.
Race winner Lewis Hamilton of Great Britain and Mercedes GP celebrates in parc ferme during the United States Formula One Grand Prix.PHOTO: AFP

MEXICO CITY • Lewis Hamilton is a racing certainty to become Britain's first four-time Formula One world champion and any lingering smidgen of a doubt should be swept away at a coronation in Mexico City on Sunday.

The Mercedes driver, odds-on title favourite with British bookmakers, who know a safe bet when they see one, has a 66-point advantage over Ferrari's Sebastian Vettel with three races remaining worth a grand total of 75.

Hamilton is also well clear in terms of the number of wins, the first decider in case of a points tie, with nine to Vettel's four.

Put simply, Vettel has to score 17 points more than Hamilton at the Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez to keep his championship hopes on life support until Brazil.

Regardless of where the German ends up, Hamilton needs only a fifth-placed finish at the Mexican Grand Prix to get the party started.

And if the Ferrari driver retires during the race, Hamilton will be world champion before he has even seen the chequered flag.

The high-altitude circuit could well favour Ferrari more than Mercedes, but Hamilton won from pole position last year and arrives this time with a haul of five victories from the last six races.

The pressure, what little there is remaining, is all on Vettel.

It will take the biggest comeback the sport has ever seen to deny Hamilton now, even if Mercedes continue to urge caution.

"I can imagine every scenario," team boss Toto Wolff told reporters when asked if he could envisage Hamilton not winning.

"This is motor racing. Sebastian had a DNF (did not finish) in Singapore, scored little in Sepang (Malaysia) and DNF at Suzuka."

"So it is not done until you've mathematically achieved it," added the Austrian, whose team have already wrapped up the constructors' championship for the fourth year in a row.

Red Bull could also be in the mix, with Dutchman Max Verstappen in the spotlight after a controversial time penalty in last week's US Grand Prix that demoted him from third to fourth.

REUTERS

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on October 26, 2017, with the headline 'Hamilton all set for a Mexican fiesta'. Print Edition | Subscribe