Lewis Hamilton is set to be crowned a five-time world champion in tonight’s Mexican GP, exclusively live on Sky F1.
Hamilton needs to only finish anywhere in the top seven to settle the championship fight with two races to spare.
And that result is only required if sole championship rival Sebastian Vettel wins the race.
If Vettel finishes second or lower, the championship is Hamilton’s irrespective of where the Englishman finishes.
Hamilton starts ahead of Vettel on the second row, with the impressive Red Bulls ahead of both on the front row and favourites for victory in Mexico.
How Hamilton can win the title in Mexico
Qualifying: Ricciardo claims shock pole
How likely is it that Hamilton will be crowned champion?
Given Hamilton has finished on the podium for nine successive races, and only once – when his Mercedes failed in Austria – outside of the top five this season, the outcome could appear as near to a sporting certainty as is possible.
However, driver and team have repeatedly cautioned against suggestions of ‘job done’ and last year’s Mexican GP proved how so-called straightforward routes to the title can be complicated.
Hamilton only required a fifth-place finish 12 months ago but endured a tough race after slipping to the back of the field at the start after Vettel’s Ferrari punctured his rear tyre. Battling on with a damaged car, Hamilton finished only ninth, although Vettel’s fourth-place finish was not sufficient to deny the Englishman the title.
This year, Mercedes suffered a rare reliability fault on Saturday morning in Mexico when a hydraulics problem shut down Valtteri Bottas’ car.
“We’ve just heard that Valtteri’s reliability issue shouldn’t affect Lewis’ engine,” said Mercedes boss Toto Wolff on Saturday evening.
“Nevertheless, it is a reminder how fragile the situation is and how much everyone is pushing in order to extract performance. Reliability will continue to play a crucial role in this championship and that’s why [Sunday] is about finding the right focus in finishing the race with the best possible performance.”
Wolff added: “We have it on our hands in having a good result with Lewis that could be a decisive result for his championship, but the emphasis is on could – it’s not done yet.
“We mustn’t drop the ball. It’s about carrying the ball over the line and this exercise needs to happen [on Sunday] and Brazil. This is why none of us wants to think too much about the championship, but just concentrating on the task at hand.”
But can Hamilton win the race?
While Hamilton is a racing certainty to win the title this evening, his chances of winning the race are altogether more difficult.
In the high altitude conditions of Mexico City, Red Bull have dominated the weekend, locking out the front row and relegating Hamilton and title rival Vettel to the second row.
Expect first-lap excitement in Mexico
“In raw speed, they have the upper hand,” Hamilton admitted.
But Mercedes and Ferrari have far more straightline speed than the Red Bulls, setting the scene perfectly for what should be a fascinating race this evening.
“If I get a good tow from these guys and there’s an opportunity to overtake I’m going to take it,” vowed Hamilton.
The racing comes first, the championship second.
Sky F1’s Mexican GP schedule
Sunday, October 28
5.30pm: Pit Lane LIVE!
6.30pm: On The Grid LIVE!
7.10pm: THE MEXICAN GP LIVE!
9.30pm: Paddock Live!
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