After Austin’s Circuit of The Americas served up a spellbinding grand prix, it’s now over to America’s neighbour to the south to show us how it’s done. To get you in the mood for Mexico we bring you the biggest talking points in the RealSport preview.
1 Second match point for Lewis
After his win in Texas, Lewis Hamilton now finds himself 66 points ahead of Sebastian Vettel in the drivers' championship. Vettel finished a strong second in Austin, and while he will have been disappointed not to have challenged Hamilton harder for the win, he has kept the title race alive for at least one more week.
Things are much trickier for the German now though, and he needs to outscore Hamilton by 17 points or more in Mexico to keep the battle alive into Brazil. That means that even if Vettel were to win on Sunday, Hamilton could finish as low as fifth and still be champion.
Given Hamilton's stellar record this season, it is most likely going to take some sort of reliability issue, freak weather, or an uncharacteristic lapse in focus from Hamilton himself to stop the Brit leaving Mexico City as a four-time world champion.
As said previously, stranger things have happened, and in Formula 1 you can never say never, but it's not looking good for Vettel and Ferrari.
2 Hartley gets another chance
Brendon Hartley made his Formula 1 debut in last weekend's US Grand Prix, and while he hardly set F1 on fire, he did a solid job under difficult circumstances.
Clearly the hierarchy at Red Bull thought so too, and it was announced yesterday that the New Zealand racer would keep his seat for the Mexican Grand Prix. Unfortunately, with Pierre Gasly set to return, this leaves no room for Daniil Kvyat, and despite his strong performance in America the Russian will find himself demoted by Red Bull for the third time in the last 18 months.
Red Bull have not announced any plans for the Toro Rosso lineup beyond Mexico though, so theoretically we may still see Kvyat back in the car at some point while Red Bull consider their options. In the meantime though, this gives Hartley a second chance, and with a race weekend's worth of experience now behind him, I'd bet on him putting in a much stronger performance than in Austin.
3 Verstappen backlash prompts discussion over track limits
After a furious backlash from fans and pundits alike over Max Verstappen's five-second penalty for overtaking Kimi Raikkonen while outside the track limits, figures within Formula 1 have been calling for a reevaluation of the rules on track limits. A RealSport poll showed that over 80% of fans believe that Verstappen's penalty was undeserved.
Red Bull boss Christian Horner was especially outspoken on the matter, asking reporters, "How can you say that what Valtteri did on one hand is okay but what Max did isn't okay? If in any other sport, you are out, then you are out."
"You cannot have, that is okay to be out there but not okay to be out here. Either get rid of it completely and let them race or if you don't want the cars to go there, put in a gravel trap, or bigger kerbs or a deterrent for the drivers not to go there."
It is this inconsistency that has riled up many fans, and understandably so. Verstappen was the hero of Austin, scything his way through the pack and clinching a last gasp podium finish with a bold move in the final corners. To have this taken away, especially when other drivers had overtaken while off track, and in this specific location, rightly creates a sense of injustice, and in any sport this is going to upset the fans, and confuse the casual viewer for good measure.
The FIA really need to step in here and clarify the situation as their current approach isn't working. As Horner suggests, you're either in, or you're out, it simply cannot work both ways.
4 Alonso set for final Honda upgrade in Mexico
Fernando Alonso could be in line to run Honda's latest engine upgrade in Mexico after his issues in the US Grand Prix last weekend. The Spaniard retired from the race with what turned out to be a MGU-H issue, and since he will take a penalty anyway for changing this component, Honda believe it would be a good time to give him this new engine.
Stoffel Vandoorne has already been running this new spec engine due to a required engine change in America that triggered a 30-place grid drop.
If Alonso does get this upgraded power unit, it will likely mark the final engine upgrade that the he gets from the Japanese manufacturer before McLaren and Honda go their separate ways at the end of the year. Fernando has been an outspoken critic of Honda for much of his time with the team, so will this engine finally give him something to smile about for the last three races?
If so, great, we might actually see him fighting for a decent points finish for once. If not though, which is more likely to be the case, then at least we can round the year off with more classic 'Nando team radio.
5 Hulk v Sainz (no issues this time please)
Carlos Sainz's move to Renault finally brought two of the grid's big talents together in one team, and I for one was looking forward to see how they matched up side-by-side in Austin. Sadly though, this wasn't to be the case.
Qualifying saw Hulkenberg take a massive grid penalty, and therefore he didn't set a time in Q2, and then in the race the German was once again struck by poor reliability and retired on lap three with an engine issue. This denied us any chance of seeing how these two new teammates would stack up against each other in either qualifying or race trim.
Hopefully, this weekend will bring smooth running for both Renault drivers and we can get this fight underway. Hulkenberg has had it easy so far this year, but after seeing Sainz's performance in Sunday's race in Austin, he may feel he has to up his game to compete with the new guy.
I for one can't wait!
6 Mexican GP TV times
Friday October 27th
FP1: Local - 10:00-11:30/UK - 16:00-17:30
FP2: Local - 14:00-15:30/UK - 20:00-21:30
Saturday October 28th
FP3: Local - 10:00-11:00/UK - 16:00-17:00
Qualifying: Local - 13:00-14:00/UK - 19:00-20:00
Sunday October 29th
Race: Local - 13:00/ UK - 19:00
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