Lewis Hamilton focused on race not title bid in Mexican GP set for 'fantastic' battles
"I'm really trying to think of how I can win this race," says Hamilton, who starts third after Verstappen demotion; Lewis has outside chance of securing title on Sunday - must outscore Bottas by 14 points; Watch the race live from 7.10pm on Sky Sports F1
By James Galloway and Matt Morlidge
Last Updated: 27/10/19 5:40pm
Lewis Hamilton insists plotting a route to what would be an unexpected race victory, rather than his first shot at securing a historic sixth F1 championship, is his big focus heading into Sunday evening's Mexican GP.
The reigning champion is now scheduled to start in the top three the race at 7.10pm behind the two Ferraris after qualifying pacesetter Max Verstappen was moved back three places for failing to heed yellow warning flags.
- Verstappen demoted, Leclerc takes over pole
- Hamilton relishing the fight for victory
- Watch the race for £9.99 on NOW TV
Hamilton can clinch the 2019 title if he outscores Valtteri Bottas by 14 or more points - and must finish on the podium to have any chance of doing so in Mexico.
But with his Mercedes team-mate scheduled to start just three places behind him, Hamilton requires a much larger points swing than the difference between third and sixth (five points) offers.
Provisional top six starting positions
|1. Charles Leclerc||Ferrari|
|2. Sebastian Vettel||Ferrari|
|3. Lewis Hamilton||Mercedes|
|4. Max Verstappen||Red Bull|
|5. Alexander Albon||Red Bull|
|6. Valtteri Bottas||Mercedes|
In any case, in keeping with his mantra all weekend, Hamilton is not focusing on the points permutations.
"I have no thoughts of the championship, I'm really trying to think of how I can win this race," said Hamilton, whose one previous win in Mexico came in 2016.
"Inevitably by doing the job it adds one more step on the ladder. Podium is the goal tomorrow but obviously I'm trying to win. I've got to try and move forwards."
What's being said about the race?
With F1's recognised 'Big Three' all having at least one representative in the top four on the revised grid, the battle for victory in the Mexican GP around one of F1's most challenging race circuits is delicately poised.
The grid's top six all start on the medium tyres, with expert management of both the Pirellis and car cooling set to be deciding factors in the high altitude of Mexico City.
When's the Mexican GP on Sky?
Lewis Hamilton can clinch his sixth world championship at the Mexican GP - and you can watch it all exclusively live on Sky Sports F1.
Speaking before Verstappen's penalty was confirmed, here is what some of the leading drivers and Sky Sports pundits were saying about the battle ahead:
Jenson Button, Sky F1: "I think it's going to be a fantastic battle. Ferrari in the last few races in qualifying have had an advantage over Mercedes, and then the race they're much closer. But I think the Red Bull is the car that Lewis has got to worry about. I think Max is going to be proper on it."
Charles Leclerc, Ferrari: "I think it will be very important to be in a good position after Turn Three because the cooling problem we have when we're following other cars is quite big for all the teams.
"The one will be first after that will have a big advantage."
Sebastian Vettel, Ferrari: "I'm quite confident it's going to be a match [with Red Bull for race pace] as well. Obviously it depends on how the race unfolds but also I would not rule out Mercedes."
Hamilton, Mercedes: "The Red Bull is really quite quick on their long runs so it's going to be interesting to see whose tyres is going to last longer - that's going to be the name of the game, looking after the tyres for the distance and holding on to the top players - Ferrari and the Red Bulls. But I'm looking forward to that fight."
Verstappen, Red Bull: "They are really quick on the straight. But even let's say they are in front I think we have a good race car and still many opportunities."
The title permutations: How Hamilton can be 2019 champion on Sunday
- If Hamilton takes victory (25pts) and fastest lap (1pt), he will be champion if Bottas finishes fourth (12pts) or lower
- If Hamilton takes victory without the fastest lap, he will be champion if Bottas finishes fifth (10pts) or lower
- If Hamilton finishes second (18pts) with the fastest lap (1pt), he will be champion if Bottas finishes eighth (4pts) or lower
- If Hamilton finishes second without the fastest lap, he will be champion if Bottas finishes eighth, without the fastest lap, or lower.
- If Hamilton finishes third (15pts) with the fastest lap (1pt), he will be champion if Bottas finishes ninth (2pts) or lower
- If Hamilton finishes third without the fastest lap, he will be champion if Bottas finishes 10th or lower without the fastest lap
- If Hamilton finishes fourth or lower, the title race definitely goes on to the United States GP next week