F1 2021 Mexican Grand Prix Preview: Title battle heats up as we enter the final five
Five to go. Five races left to decide the titanic shifting battle that has been F1 in 2021. In what will go down historically as an outstanding season, both Lewis Hamilton and Max Verstappen have looked the part of champion. But only one of them will walk away from the podium in December carrying the trophy. It’s up to us now, and them always, to watch every minute, every engine penalty, every qualifying, every teammate and backmarker and every race to celebrate who will come out on top. Nothing is to be missed.
Mexico got skipped because of the pandemic in 2020. Lots has changed since then but the track remains an interesting one where both championship leaders have found success. Max won in 2017 and 2018, Lewis won in 2016 and 2019. Interestingly, Hamilton clinched the drivers title both times Verstappen won. However, the story surrounding this trip around the Autódromo Hermanos Rodríguez could not be further from those memories.
Like all Hermann Tilke creations, the track features a long straight, a shorter straight and a bunch of tight corners meant to encourage passing. Also, like all Tilke creations, it achieves this to a moderate degree of success; races are rarely processions but we haven’t seen a Baku Bomb just yet. Then again, the hybrid era hasn’t seen a competitor and competition like this before. The chance this year could add some degree of excitement to an already decent grand prix is very high.
Max seized the USGP
As has been the case all season, the RB16B and its Honda engine have had the measure at every former Mercedes stronghold. Hamilton has put together one of his most determined efforts of recent memory and yet has somehow found himself repeatedly staring at the back of Verstappen. The US Grand Prix was no different; after seizing a first corner lead, Hamilton then lost it via the undercut during the pit-stop phase and agonizingly ran out of time to pass the hard-defending Dutchman.
Not all about Max and Lewis
Further down the pecking order another scintillating battle rages. Since their recent engine upgrade, Ferrari are on a tear and now sit hot on the heels of McLaren for third in the Constructor’s Championship. While it’s unlikely either of their drivers will catch Lando Norris individually, to overhaul the Woking outfit would be a huge accomplishment for the Scuderia after a wickedly disappointing 2020 season. Their rivalry and battles have been fierce of late and should continue during the Mexico City Grand Prix.
While the entirety of 2021 has been remarkable for its ability to entertain throughout the order, there can be no doubt that after Austin, Red Bull have a car that can answer anything. And Max? Well, with the exception of Monza, Max can’t seem to miss. His reward has so far amounted to being 12 points up on Hamilton for the championship lead – despite two additional DNF’s. And, with the seasonal flow trending his direction, Verstappen seems likely to add to that lead this weekend in Mexico. But, like in all things racing, the races still have to be run and Lewis is far from a man incapable of winning.
Practice 1, Nov 5th: 17:30 – 18:30 (13:30 – 14:30 EST)
Practice 2, Nov 5th: 21:00 – 22:00 (17:00 – 18:00 EST)
Practice 3, Nov 6th: 17:00 – 18:00 (13:00 – 14:00 EST)
Qualifying, Nov 6th: 20:00 – 21:00 (16:00 – 17:00 EST)
Race, Nov 7th: 19:00 (15:00 EST)
All times are British Summer Time (BST), unless stated
Grid Talk Podcast
Want more content to preview your Mexican GP weekend? The Grid Talk crew have you covered with their latest podcast, the Mexican GP Preview. Owain Medford hosted Louis Edwards, Tom Horrox and Tan Jui Shien Ray in episode 146 of the show. Both audio and video versions of the podcast are available below: