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How Did the Mexican Grand Prix Play Out? Is it Too Little, Too Late for Hamilton?

October 31, 2016

- Grant Whittington

Before the Mexican Grand Prix, there was incredible speculation regarding whether or not this was likely to be the decisive race in this years’ Drivers’ Championship. Would it be the meeting where Rosberg placed one hand on the trophy, for example, or would it be a race that saw Hamilton close the gap decisively on his bitter teammate and rival?

At the end of the Mexican Grand Prix, neither of these assertions were particularly accurate. Sure, Hamilton won to close the gap on Rosberg to 19 points, but he failed to make the type of decisive inroads that he required to strengthen his grip on the title. Conversely, Rosberg failed to extend his lead and place one hand on the trophy, but he at least cemented his position as the  favourite to win the Drivers Championship this year.

How Did the Mexican Grand Prix Unfold?

By most measures, the Mexican Grand Prix proved to be surprisingly uneventful and lacking in drama. After all, Hamilton was dominant from start to finish in the Mexican heat, securing a trouble-free pole position on Saturday before romping home on Sunday for the 51st win of an impressive career (he is now joint second on the all-time winner’s list, behind the incomparable Michael Schumacher). In many respects, Hamilton repeated the seamless and error-free performance that earned him victory as the US Grand Prix a week previously, as he continued to build momentum behind a last-ditch, no-holds-barred title defence.

In fact, much of the drama unfolded behind Hamilton and to a lesser extent Rosberg, who seemed to perform within himself once his rival burst away from pole position at the start of the race. This should not detract from the excellence of Hamilton’s performance, however, which was delivered under immense pressure and with Rosberg poised to take advantage of any slip or engine failure.

Fortunately for Hamilton, he was too far ahead to be troubled by Rosberg, or even the  high octane round of dodgems that took place between Max Verstappen, Sebastian Vettel and Daniel Ricciardo during the final laps. This is where the action really unfolded in Mexico, with a number of near misses and a particularly scintillating collision between Vettel and Ricciardo triggering raised pulse rates and animosity in equal measure.

Will the Race Alter the Course of the Title Race?

These shenanigans are nothing more than theatre, however, and the real story lies with Hamilton’s performance and renewed momentum in the title race. The only question that remains is whether or not this latest resurgence is too little, too late for Hamilton’s defence of his Drivers’ Championship, particularly after a season of relentless inconsistency and numerous engine failures.

In truth, Hamilton’s performance has done little to alter the course of the title race, other than to afford himself a competitive chance of reclaiming his crown. Rosberg still holds a strong advantage and a 19-point lead, while victory in Brazil next time out will still be enough for him to claim the title. If not, consecutive second and third place finishes would be enough to see Rosberg victorious, while Hamilton can do little more than maintain his current form and hope for some of the luck that has eluded him so far this season.

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