Venue: Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez
Lewis Hamilton left Japan in a foul mood and we’re expecting his opponents to face the backlash in our Mexican Grand Prix predictions.
Although still 64 points clear of team-mate Valtteri Bottas with just four rounds and 104 points left to play for, the Briton was fuming at Mercedes over strategy errors.
Hamilton lost 10 seconds to Bottas at Suzuka after being kept out on old tyres for three more laps than the eventual race winner.
The runaway championship leader then believed he would have been better off changing to the most durable hard rubber.
When he was not, the Englishman thought he should have been told to manage his tyres, not blitz them in trying to catch Sebastian Vettel, who was on an obvious two-stop strategy.
Hamilton ended up finishing half a second behind the Ferrari driver in third place and did not hide his disappointment.
“Things could have been done better,” moaned Hamilton. “There have been multiple scenarios this year where that has been the case.
“We should have got a one-two but the strategy was not optimum for me. Naturally, we will sit and talk to the engineers and strategists. There will be discussions when we get back.”
How the Japanese Grand Prix finished
1 Bottas (Mercedes), 2 Vettel (Ferrari), 3 Hamilton (Mercedes), 4 Albon (Red Bull), 5 Sainz (McLaren), 6 Ricciardo (Renault), 7 Leclerc (Ferrari), 8 Gasly (Toro Rosso), 9 Perez (Racing Point), 10 Hulkenberg (Renault), 11 Stroll (Racing Point), 12 Kvyat (Toro Rosso), 13 Norris (McLaren), 14 Raikkonen (Alfa Romeo), 15 Grosjean (Haas), 16 Giovinazzi (Alfa Romeo), 17 Magnussen (Haas), 18 Russell (Williams), 19 Kubica (Williams), DNF Verstappen (Red Bull)
Ferrari locked out the front row on the grid in Japan but Mercedes were quicker during the race itself and a similar scenario in Mexico may present Hamilton with a challenge he will relish.
The Briton stated: “Ferrari still have a straight-line speed advantage which makes it very hard to qualify ahead of them, so we have to outrace them, but I think that makes it really exciting for the spectators.”
Bottas can be backed at 8/1 to claim a second straight success, but the feeling is that everything went his way at Suzuka and that is unlikely to happen again.
However, not for the first time this season, they both made mistakes last time out and have something to prove here.
Max Verstappen will feature in many Mexican Grand Prix betting tips at 7/2, having prevailed at this venue for the past couple of years.
He was unlucky to crash out after a collision with Leclerc at Suzuka and said: “It’s very frustrating, as I think we had a good chance of being on the podium again, especially after such a good start.”
The Dutchman added: “We are definitely improving and the gap is closing, but there is still more work to do before Mexico.”
We’re sticking with Hamilton to close in on winning a sixth Formula One world title, though, and he could even wrap things up in Mexico City if he shines and Bottas is below par.
Past Mexican Grand Prix winners:
2018 Verstappen (Red Bull), Vettel (Ferrari), Raikkonen (Ferrari)
2017 Verstappen (Red Bull), Bottas (Mercedes), Raikkonen (Ferrari)
2016 Hamilton (Mercedes), Rosberg (Mercedes), Ricciardo (Red Bull)
2015 Rosberg (Mercedes), Hamilton (Mercedes), Bottas (Williams)
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