That's it then, isn't it? The world champion was decided at Suzuka, with Max Verstappen taking that honor. The Constructors' Cup was clinched by Verstappen's Red Bull Racing team at Circuit of the Americas outside Austin, Texas, this past weekend. Now comes Sunday's Mexican Grand Prix, and it seems there's not much left to race for except bragging rights. Well, actually, there's a lot left to race for at Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez, such as can Charles Leclerc and Ferrari salvage some pride and finish second in the driver standings, or can Sergio Perez make it a Red Bull 1-2 on the season.
Perez is out to become the first home driver to win the Mexican Grand Prix while his illustrious teammate is also in search of his 14th win on the season, which no F1 driver has ever accomplished (Michael Schumacher and Sebastian Vettel hold the record at 13). Obviously, a win at his home Grand Prix would go a long way for Perez — known as "Checo" to his friends and fans — clinching the first runner-up position to Verstappen. Leclerc currently holds a two-point advantage on Perez.
And while it is a case of too little, too late, the upgrades Mercedes unleashed at the COTA made them very racy indeed, so expect Lewis Hamilton and teammate George Russell to not go quietly into the night in these final three races of the calendar.
How to watch the Formula 1 Mexican Grand Prix
- Date: Sunday, Oct. 30
- Location: 2.674-mile (4.304-kilometer), 17-turn Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez, Mexico City
- Time: 4 p.m. ET
- TV: ESPN
- Stream: fuboTV (try for free)
What to expect
At 7,342 feet, Autodromo Hermanos Rodríguez is in rarified air. It is, by far, the highest elevation the F1 circus will compete at on the 2022 calendar year (Interlagos, Brazil is the next highest at 4,921 feet), and as can be imagined the thin air causes issues for not just the drivers but also the cars. It should be a track the Ferraris excel at considering the thinner air means that cars carrying more downforce will suffer less of a penalty, and cars with a horsepower advantage may find it harder to breath in that thin air.
The signature feature of the track is Turn 17, the Peraltada, a banked, extremely fast corner that brings the field back to the extremely long front straight. This is also the second of the two DRS zones on the track, setting up for drag-race finishes to Turn 1. The first DRS zone is at the exit of the Turn 11 chicane to Turn 12, which is very short.
Strategies in the past have seen a one-stopper be the winning formula, with cars starting on the hardest compound being good 50 laps or more, then switching to a softer compound for the sprint to the finish. Whether that compound will be the intermediate or the super soft remains to be discovered by the teams during open practices on Friday and Saturday ahead of Saturday's qualifying. Past races has seen the intermediate last up to 30 laps, so that would mean a pit window strategy somewhere in the 20s, with the hard compounds then being slipped on for the remainder of the scheduled 71 laps. Or do you go with the super softs, hope to get at least 20 laps, then go to the hard compounds?
Red Bull Racing has proven to be adept at saving its tires, most likely due to the fact that the cars seem to be running far less downforce than Ferrari and other challengers, so perhaps this will be the roll of the dice team principal Christian Horner takes at Mexico City.