With Lewis Hamilton on the brink of winning his fourth F1 title, Ralph Ellis breaks down what the Brit will have to do to triumph in Mexico...
"It’s an intriguing situation. He needs only to finish 5th to wrap up his fourth world title, or 9th if Vettel comes second. So he has to fight the temptation to just go round on cruise control as well as the thin air."
My dad bought our first colour telly for the 1970 World Cup and I was immediately entranced by the idea of Mexico City. It was an amazing tournament. Seeing that Brazil side in colour instead of black and white was quite incredible. And even more fascinating were the effects of heat and altitude on the players.
Many years later I was lucky enough to become friends with England's marauding left back from that team Terry Cooper and listened to his tales of gasping for breath in the thin Mexico air. Who would have thought that cars would have the same problem? Yet that is exactly the issue facing Lewis Hamilton this weekend as he tries to wrap up this season's F1 World Championship.
In any other city in the world, the layout of the Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez track would be perfect for Hamilton's Mercedes. It has long straights, not too many tight turns, and flows in a way that should be tailor made for him. But at 7,500 feet above sea level, none of that helps at all.
Instead the cars this weekend will be configured for a high downforce track, the sort of circuit loved by Sebastian Vettel's Ferrari and the Red Bull cars of Max Verstappen and Daniel Ricciardo. Hamilton should be odds on given his recent form but instead he is [2.3].
It's an intriguing situation. He needs only to finish 5th to wrap up his fourth world title, or 9th if Vettel comes second. So he has to fight the temptation to just go round on cruise control as well as the thin air.
Yet this is Hamilton the ultimate boy racer we are talking about, a man who will want to win with a flourish. He'll know that just like our footballers back in 1970, heat is also a problem. The cars have to run on maximum cooling settings and that puts a strain on every other part of the power train.
Put the Ferraris under pressure and their record in the second half of the season suggests they may not be capable of going the full 71 laps. Lewis will go for it, just has he has done this Autumn on the other tracks that weren't supposed to help him. That's why I will be backing him to hit the heights on Sunday - whatever the altitude.
Back Lewis Hamilton to win the Mexico Grand Prix @ [2.38]