Mercedes wrapped up their fourth back-to-back world title in Austin after outscoring Ferrari. At points this season the two biggest names in the sport both constructors and drivers looked evenly matched fighting each other on track.
However, since the summer break Ferrari have not taken a single victory thanks to reliability problems as well as that first lap collision in Singapore. Belgium and Italy in my view where always going to favour Mercedes.
Spa saw Hamilton and Vettel quite evenly matched with them fighting each other hard. Ferrari were able to mirror Mercedes throughout the race. Hamilton came in earlier than Vettel, that meant that Hamilton did his out lap and got back up to racing speeds, before Vettel started his in lap.
That gave Hamilton a seven-point lead over Vettel.
The following weekend was another race where Mercedes were strong after Hamilton pulled away from Vettel. Ferrari appeared to be overwhelmed by the Mercedes which has a straight line speed advantage which you need at Monza.
Hamilton led every lap of the race building his lead over his teammate Valtteri Bottas and Vettel. That allowed him to build that the over Vettel in the drivers’ championship.
However, Singapore was set up to be a different story and was a good opportunities for Ferrari to claw back ground on Mercedes. Vettel looked stronger and took pole from Max Verstappen with Hamilton down in fifth. Mercedes had struggled on low speed circuits all season and Singapore was somewhere they had struggled in the past.
It was all looking set from Friday for Ferrari to take victory. But that first corner collision taking Vettel, Verstappen and Kimi Raikkonen out a the first corner handed Hamilton a easy run to the chequered flag. Hamilton was able to extend his lead over Vettel to twenty eight points.
Malaysia was a weekend here Ferrari imploded. Vettel failed to qualify for the race meaning he started from the back, despite the team again looking strong in practice. But, after Singapore Ferrari opted not to change the turbo as that would have triggered a automatic ten-place grid penalty.
But the good news (if there was some) for Ferrari, was that Max Verstappen took victory, limiting the damage. Hamilton meanwhile continued to build that championship lead to thirty four points. Raikkonen was going to be a key factor in trying to limit the damage.
The Finn retired before the race had begun thanks to a turbo failure. While Vettel finished the race, on the cool down lap he was involved in a collision with Williams’s Lance Stroll. Luckly, that didn’t earn Vettel a five place grid penalty as the collision didn’t damage the gearbox.
In Suzuka Mercedes looked strong all weekend with Hamilton and Vettel both starting on the front row, thanks to Bottas’s five place grid penalty. But Hamilton topped all three sessions of qualifying and Mercedes looked better through the high speed sections.
Ferrari’s implosion continued as on the grid they were trying to fix an issue on Vettel’s car. He did start the race, but it became clear from ther very start that the problem wasn’t fixed with him being swamped by Verstappen, Ricciardo and Bottas on the restart.
The problem was a spark plug failure leading to his retirement on the fourth lap of the race. This meant Austin gave Hamilton his first shoot at his fourth world championship.
The implosion ended in Austin, in qualifying Hamilton had the upper hand in all three sessions. Vettel responded in Q3 shaving three quarters off after being half a second down after his first run in the session.
However, Mercedes had looked strong all weekend and Austin was a combination of circuits where the silver arrows had looked strong throughout the season.
The race was a tactical fight between the two, Ferrari mirrored Mercedes throughout the race. But Hamilton appeared to have the advantage on single lap pace, while he didn’t respond to Ferrari’s trying to pressure into a pit stop. Bottas was fifth that allowed Mercedes to clinch their fourth successive constructors’ championship with three grand prix still remaining.
How Hamilton wins drivers in Mexico
- Hamilton needs to outscore Vettel by sixteen points
- Hamilton is world champion if he finishes fifth or higher
- If Vettel finishes second, Hamilton is world champion if he finishes ninth or higher
- If Vettel is third or lower, Hamilton will be world champion
Can Hamilton win his fourth world title this weekend? To be continued…
Formula One Vault will have LIVE coverage of every session for the Mexican Grand Prix starting at 15:45 on Friday with first practice