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Mexican Grand Prix: Five things we learned as Lewis Hamilton closes in on title

Mexican Grand Prix: Five things we learned as Lewis Hamilton closes in on title
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Lewis Hamilton was made to wait for the title.

Lewis Hamilton is on the brink of winning his sixth world championship after taking the chequered flag at Sunday's Mexican Grand Prix.

The British driver now needs to finish only eighth in Austin on Sunday to clinch this season's title.

Here, the PA news agency looks at five things we learned from the 18th round of the campaign in Mexico.

History beckons for Hamilton

Hamilton took his victory tally for the season to 10, and his career total to 83, after he was crowned the surprise winner of Sunday's race in Mexico. It appears inconceivable that the British driver will now fail to move ahead of Juan Manuel Fangio, and to within one of Michael Schumacher's record haul of seven, in Texas in just six days' time. Indeed, an eighth-placed finish will be enough for Hamilton at a venue he has triumphed on five of his previous seven visits. Hamilton and his Mercedes team should never have been in the hunt to win in Mexico's capital city, with both Ferrari and Red Bull boasting superior machinery. But the tactical brilliance of Mercedes' pit-wall, matched with the superb Hamilton at the wheel, is an almost unbeatable combination – and it is why the Briton is on the brink of securing his fifth title in six magical years.

Vettel jokes Hamilton is lucky

Mercedes stopped Hamilton for tyres eight laps after pole-sitter Charles Leclerc, and 14 laps before Sebastian Vettel. It proved to be a mathematical masterstroke, with Hamilton expertly executing his team's one-stop strategy. But as Hamilton stood alongside Vettel in the television pen, the Ferrari driver joked that his rival was fortunate to take the spoils. "He got massively lucky by pitting for tyres so early," said Vettel, putting his arm around Hamilton. "If you are a woman on this planet and you have this guy giving you a massage like the way he treated his tyres, then it is pure magic." Vettel's jovial remarks could not hide the fact that his Ferrari team endured another underwhelming afternoon. They started one and two, but finished second and fourth. Ferrari might have the best car, but they are tactically well short of Mercedes. It is an area at which they must improve over the winter or face another season of woe in 2020.

Verstappen made to pay for mistakes

There is a solid argument to say that Max Verstappen should have won for a third consecutive time at the Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez. Verstappen put his Red Bull on pole, but then talked himself into a three-place grid penalty. He ran off the road with Hamilton at the second corner, dropping further down the field, before colliding with Valtteri Bottas on lap four and suffering a right-rear puncture. To his credit, Verstappen then completed the remaining 66 laps on only one set of tyres, while navigating his way from last to sixth. But the Dutchman, who last won at the German Grand Prix in July, will head to Austin wondering what might have been.

Steady Albon set to be retained by Red Bull

  • Belgium - Fifth
  • Italy - Sixth
  • Singapore - Sixth
  • Russia - Fifth
  • Japan - Fourth
  • Mexico - Fifth

Alex Albon made the first big mistake of his Red Bull career when he crashed out of second practice here on Friday. But the London-born rookie recovered to split the Mercedes drivers and qualify fifth. He ran as high as third in the race, but a two-stop strategy cost him two positions. Following his mid-season promotion from Toro Rosso, the 23-year-old has finished fifth, sixth, sixth, fifth, fourth and fifth. And it is that sort of consistency which is set to earn him a full season with Red Bull in 2020.

F1 bosses abandon reverse grids

Ross Brawn was frustrated by opposition to reverse-grid races
Ross Brawn was frustrated by opposition to reverse-grid races (David Davies/PA)

It emerged in Mexico that Formula One chiefs have been forced to abandon plans to stage reverse-grid races next year. The sport's American owners Liberty Media held talks with the teams about revamping qualifying in a bid to spice up the show. The proposal was to trial a reverse-grid race, determined by championship order, at three rounds next year. The outcome of which would settle the starting positions of Sunday's grand prix. Hamilton and Vettel were both critical of the plans, and their respective Mercedes and Ferrari teams are understood to have voted down the idea. Ross Brawn, F1's managing director, said: "The teams initially agreed with it and then two teams put their hand up at the last meeting and said they wouldn't. It's frustrating."

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Lewis Hamilton celebrates winning the race on the podium whilst wearing a sombrero on October 27, 2019
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Olympic medal table header
CountryGold medalSilver MedalBronze MedalT
United StatesUnited States29352791
Olympics flagRussian Olympic Committee16222058
Great BritainGreat Britain16181852
Today's Olympic highlights header

Friday's key events

· Great Britain's women aim to secure their place on the podium as they face India in the bronze medal match (2.30am)
· Netherlands - silver medallists five years ago - and Argentina battle for the gold medal in the women's final (11am)

· The women's gold medal will be decided as Australia and USA go head to head (3.30am)

· Lauren Price will be looking to add to Team GB's success in the ring when she takes on Nouchka Fontijn of Netherlands in the women's middleweight semi-final (6am)

· Tom Daley already has one Olympic gold to his name in Tokyo, and he begins his bid for second in the men's 10m platform. Teammate Noah Williams is also involved in the preliminary round (7am)

· Jason Kenny's reign as sprint king may be over, but Jack Carlin looked strong in his bid to succeed his compatriot. He takes on Harrie Lavreysen in his sprint semi-final (8.10am), with the final taking place later in the day (10.35am)
· The women's madison makes its Olympic debut at the velodrome as Team GB duo Katie Archibald and Laura Kenny look to add another medal to their collections (9.15am)

· Hosts Japan will look to get themselves on the podium as they face Mexico in the men's bronze medal match (10am)
· The women's champions will be crowned as both Sweden and Canada aim to win Olympic gold for the very first time (1pm)

· The men's 5000m final includes Great Britain's Andrew Butchart, but most eyes will be on Ugandan world record holder Joshua Cheptegei (1pm)
· Team GB's Jodie Williams will hope to get on the podium in the women's 400m final, but defending champ Shaunae Miller-Uibo is favourite for gold while Stephenie Ann McPherson should challenge and Allyson Felix is bidding to become the most decorated female track and field athlete of all time (1.35pm)
· Netherlands' Sifan Hassan takes on leg two of her ambitious attempt at a Tokyo treble in a women's 1500m final which also includes Great Britain's Laura Muir and Faith Kipyegon of Kenya (1.50pm)
· A star-studded women's 4x100m relay final will see a Team GB quartet including Dina Asher-Smith look to upset defending champions USA and favourites Jamaica, who boast Elaine Thompson-Herah as she goes for her third gold of the Games (2.30pm)
· Great Britain and Jamaica will also be going for gold in the men's 4x100m relay final, and their medal hopes have been boosted by USA's failure to qualify (2.50pm)

> Today's schedule in full
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