The Undercut: Take two for Lewis in Mexico…
There is a sense of déjà vu as I pen this edition of ‘The Undercut’, and I’m half-tempted to simply cut-and-paste from last week's about the title being decided, and just change the figures a little and hope that nobody notices.
Because really, nothing much has changed. It is still a case of when, not if, Lewis Hamilton gets F1 title number five.
In a taco shell, all Lewis Hamilton has to do on Sunday in Mexico is score five piddly little points and that will be (finally) hasta la vista to another year of disappointment for Ferrari.
Even if Sebastian Vettel wins, and bear in mind he hasn’t troubled the top step of the podium since the Belgian Grand Prix in August, the six points that come with seventh place would seal the title for Lewis.
Then again, who would have imagined that Ferrari would suddenly find their lost form at the United States Grand Prix and Kimi Raikkonen, who hadn’t won since the start of 2013, would get the win Lewis needed?
With Max Verstappen overtaking pretty much the entire grid to nab second, the champion-elect found himself having to postpone the celebrations for another week.
F1 legend Mario Andretti got a bit over-excited after the US GP, dead chuffed that the title race was still alive. It may well be still breathing, but it was given the last rites a long time ago.
Kimi winning was great stuff, but it only prolongs the inevitable.
Earlier this week (and this just sums up Ferrari’s ability to throw it away) Vettel alluded that they had taken the last four months of updates off the car and put the damn thing back to how it was in the summer, ie: when it was fast and a winner.
All that time and money thrown at a perfectly good car, only to go and slow it down. Mercedes must be laughing themselves silly.
While Lewis has the luxury of three races to get those five points, you can’t escape the fact that Sebastian still has to win ALL of them and with his current habit of whacking into another driver or a piece of the scenery at the first opportunity, he just isn’t going to do it.
At this race last year, also the title decider, he managed to clatter into Hamilton at the start and even though all the Brit could manage was a lowly ninth placed finish, it was still enough for title number four.
Chances of these two coming together again and the title being decided long before the flag? Worth a bet I’d say.
Ignoring our two championship contenders, you have to say that a Red Bull win is surely a bit overdue. No victory for them since way back in July and with Verstappen’s outrageous race in Texas, a win for him here, as he managed last year, might be worth a few quid at the bookies.
That is of course, if the ludicrous spectre of engine penalties can be kept at bay.
Elsewhere, the midfield battle, or the F1.5 championship as it is now unofficially known, is about as tight as a duck's whatsit.
Sixteen points are all that separate Nico Hulkenberg in seventh down to his Renault team-mate, Carlos Sainz in twelfth, with Sergio Perez, Kevin Magnussen, Fernando Alonso and Esteban Ocon sandwiched between them.
Things are a little more spread out in the constructors battle.
Force India are now up to seventh in the standings after having been stripped of all points only two months ago, which is some achievement.
Only another eleven points and they’ll overtake McLaren and end the year most likely in sixth place. Not the fourth that is morally where they should be but still not bad going.
Looking at the constructors points, which I rarely do as it is a rather boring subject, I got my calculator out and found that if you add together ALL the points scored by the F1.5 teams, Renault, Haas, McLaren, Force India, Toro Rosso, Sauber and Williams, that comes to 362, over 200 points off what Mercedes have done on their own.
They don’t stand a chance do they?
No wonder Gene Haas keeps on complaining about the inequality on the grid. It has always been there but not quite to this extent.
A tip for you. If you don’t have access to Sky F1 and will be relying on the Channel 4 highlights show, you might want to prep for a sickie on Monday morning (you know, start complaining to everybody at work about having a bad tummy around now) as the race highlights programme doesn’t start until 23:00, and goes on until 01:15.
One lunatic tabloid journalist, on noticing this and then realising that a relatively small amount of viewers subscribe to Sky F1, meaning most would not be able to watch Lewis win the title live, wrote that the fans would be ‘snubbing him’.
No, you clueless plonker. With us in Blighty (as with Italy and others) about to lose our free live coverage, it is F1 who is snubbing the fans.
That time of night is going to be some serious challenge to remain conscious if it is a dull race, but with a title to win, that super-competitive midfield and the possibility of a bit of rain, this should be one not to miss.
So, a quick look at the F1 news away from the track this week.
It’s all been a little quiet, teams and the travelling media enjoying a bit of downtime between the USA and Mexico rounds.
There has been a lot of talk about Mercedes wheel rims doing something or other special (soo exciting), Lewis held a party for his dogs with them dressed up for the occasion (the dogs, not Lewis) and Haas signed a title sponsorship deal with a fizzy pop company nobody has ever heard of.
See you there amigos!