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Hamilton claims fourth title as Verstappen wins Mexican GP


While last week in Austin we admitted that for selfish reasons we wanted to see the title fight kept alive, this week we're hoping to see Lewis finally put the thing to bed.

Fact is, and we say this as animal lovers, it is time to put the prancing horse out of its misery. It is time to say 'goodbye old girl, you gave it your best shot', and let the faithful servant go to that great grass filled paddock in the sky.

Then, in anticipation of a younger, more reliable stallion appearing in 2018 - maybe even with a little help from Mercedes - let Ferrari and Sebastian Vettel have some fun in the remaining races and give us a glimpse of what might have been.

Yesterday's pole-winning lap showed that Seb and Ferrari still have it, but to overcome a 66 point deficit... even if it was on merit everyone would scream the fix was in, especially based on Bernie Ecclestone's comments over the last 48 hours.

And let's not forget, Lewis is the only driver to have completed all 999 laps the previous 17 races have comprised, so if he were to suddenly develop reliability issues...

Pending the stewards decision on Verstappen yesterday, at the end of the session Hamilton said: "We'll see what happens with Max, but I'm hoping that I get to at least have a battle with one of them."

And that just about sums up our feelings. Let's put the title thingy aside, Lewis has won that and deservingly so. Now let's see the guy have some fun and some good old fashioned elbows out, wheel-to-wheel, door-to-door(?) racing. After all, all three are clearly up for it.

Fellow Finns Bottas and Raikkonen could provide some fun and games also today, while the fight behind promises to be absolutely frenzied, what with the Pink Panthers now seemingly allowed to race one another - Perez particularly fired up on home soil - not to mention an ever improving Renault, Williams and that man Alonso.

The Haas duo look for a tough afternoon, Grosjean appearing to be near to tears following yesterday's session.

Meanwhile spare a thought for Toro Rosso's drivers; Brendon Hartley incurring a grid penalty for the second successive weekend and Pierre Gasly, who also has a grid penalty, having completed just a handful of laps over the entire weekend thus far. Talk about baptism by fire.

Indeed, both drivers are consigned to the back of the grid, where they will join not only the McLaren duo but Daniel Ricciardo, who is sure to provide some entertainment over the course of the afternoon.

Much like Japan, the atmosphere and passion in Mexico is infectious and its genuine, something that Liberty Media would do well to take note of.

Last year's race will forever be remembered for Verstappen's antics which in turn led to the infamous 'message to Charlie' from Vettel. Will this year's race be even half as much fun?

Sadly, the one damper on it all - and it won't be the weather gods - is the fact that low degradation means it's likely to be a one-stopper once again.

A one-stopper is going to be the most effective strategy for this afternoon's 71-lap race, confirms Pirelli, starting on the ultrasofts and running for 30-34 laps, before switching to supersofts.

The Italian manufacturer suggests a two-stopper is possible, with two 25-lap stints on ultrasofts and one on supersofts.

Should there be a safety car - and history points to this being the case - or a driver gets stuck in traffic, a one-stopper with an opening stint of 16 laps on ultrasofts and a second on softs could work.

Of course, as much as we might salivate at the prospect of Vettel, Verstappen and Hamilton going head-to-head, there remains the little matter of that long drag to the first corner - at 0.497 miles (800m) the longest on the calendar - and then the first corner itself.

Let's not forget the last time Seb and Max started from the front row.

The pitlane opens and the drivers start heading out.

Air temperature is 21 degrees C, while the track temperature is 41 degrees.

"Leaving the garage I had no power when I touched the pedal," reports Hamilton. "OK, we'll have a look," comes the cheery reply.

A minute's silence in respect of the victims of the recent earthquake, is followed by the national anthem, sung brilliantly by a small boy with big lungs and a big heart.

As the field prepares to head off on the warm-up lap, the air temperature remains at 21 degrees C, while the track temperature is now 42 degrees. It is bright and sunny with 0% chance of rain.

All are starting on the ultrasofts bar Grosjean and Alonso who are on supersofts.

They're away. Vettel gets away well, as does Hamilton. Verstappen moves across to cover the Briton as Raikkonen comes up on the outside.

Racing into T1 they're three abreast, while Raikkonen has fallen back and Bottas now up to fourth.

In T1 Verstappen and Vettel are side by side, they touch and tyre smoke fills the air. But while the German has the inside, the Dutch youngster is on the inside for T2. Sure enough the Red Bull is through. Meanwhile, Hamilton comes through and looks as if he's going to pass the pair of them around the outside of T3.

Rounding T3, Verstappen leads and while Hamilton is in second the rear of the Mercedes touches Vettel's wing... now carbonfibre fills the air. While Vettel continues his pursuit of the leader, though having clearly incurred damage, Bottas is now ahead of the Ferrari. Meanwhile, Hamilton has dropped back, the Mercedes having suffered a puncture in the melee.

"I've got a flat tyre," reports Hamilton. "Box, box, box, box," he is told.

"Simply simply lovely," the Dutchman purrs over the radio as he leaves his rivals behind.

There are bound to be questions but in all honesty it looked like a racing incident, three into one won't go and never will. Vettel had too much to lose to be accused of doing anything silly, while Hamilton only needs to finish in the leading five.

Verstappen leads Bottas, Ocon, Hulkenberg, Sainz, Perez, Massa, Raikkonen, Stroll and Ricciardo.

Vettel pits, taking on a new nose, while Hamilton also stops. They rejoin the race in 19th (Vettel) and 20th.

"Did he hit me deliberately," asks Hamilton. "Not sure," comes the reply.

Out front, Verstappen sets a blistering pace already leading Bottas by 1.924s.

Sainz pits at the end of lap 2 having picked up a puncture. Rejoining in 19th ahead of Hamilton.

Ricciardo is already up to 8th, the Australian taking no prisoners.

Check out our Sunday gallery from Mexico, here.


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1. Posted by Stitch431, 30/10/2017 12:11

"Seems to me the FIA has two different sets of rules as it comes to punishing drivers. If the would have done it consequently, they would have punished Vettel like they did with Verstappen last week as he left the track under overtaking Massa. "

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