Lewis Hamilton does not expect to wrap up the drivers’ championship at this weekend’s Mexican Grand Prix.
Team-mate Valtteri Bottas took victory ahead of Sebastian Vettel at Suzuka, with Hamilton finishing third in a result that means only the two Mercedes drivers remain in mathematical contention for the championship. Hamilton can secure a sixth drivers’ title if he outscores Bottas by 14 points or more in Mexico City, but says the combination of Bottas’s form and a historically tough circuit for Mercedes mean such a result is unlikely.
“I think for me it’s never been a case of always wanting to rush things,” Hamilton said. “Valtteri’s driven well all year long, he’s done a great job and he will most likely do a very, very solid job these next races, so we still have a battle, the fight continues.
“I think Mexico is generally our worst race of the year because of the way our car is set up and it’s going to be a tough one for us. The last few have been pretty shocking, even though we’ve won the title there. I’m hoping for a better weekend, but I think it’s going to be very hard to beat the Ferraris with those long straights.
“We have no hope of getting by on those straights, that’s for sure. But even if you look at the others, the McLarens are picking up some serious speeds on the straights, so are the Red Bulls, so I think it will be a tricky one. I don’t anticipate it will be Mexico. I think we will be battling for a good few races.”
Team principal Toto Wolff agrees that Mexico is likely to be a tough venue for Mercedes, where it hasn’t won since 2016.
“There is no sense of entitlement in this team for future success, so we were quickly back to our usual race preparation routine after Japan,” Wolff said. “We know that the four remaining races are not going to be easy and we expect Mexico to be the most difficult one for us.
“The high altitude of the track brings some fairly unusual challenges as the low air density affects the downforce of the car, the cooling and the engine performance. It’s a combination that doesn’t particularly suit our car, but we will give it everything to try and limit the damage.”