Hamilton hopes Mercedes can combat ‘rapid’ rivals

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Watch the Mexico City GP live only on Sky Sports F1 this weekend, with track action beginning on Friday evening from 5.30pm; Sunday’s race is at 7pm, with 12 points between Verstappen and Hamilton with five races to go

Last Updated: 05/11/21 3:23pm


Lewis Hamilton expects title rival Max Verstappen to be quicker in his Red Bull at this weekend's Mexico City Grand Prix.

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Lewis Hamilton expects title rival Max Verstappen to be quicker in his Red Bull at this weekend’s Mexico City Grand Prix.

Lewis Hamilton expects title rival Max Verstappen to be quicker in his Red Bull at this weekend’s Mexico City Grand Prix.

Lewis Hamilton says Mercedes will try to leave “no performance on the table” at this weekend’s Mexico City GP as they attempt to combat what he expects will be “rapid” speed from their title rivals Red Bull.

Hamilton, meanwhile, said he only wanted to win – or lose – his eighth world title in “the right way” rather than his closely-fought duel with Max Verstappen ultimately be decided by a controversial season-ending collision.

Twelve points behind Verstappen heading into this weekend’s event, Hamilton is the defending race winner from F1’s last visit to the Mexican capital two years ago – but the Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez, situated 2000m above sea level, is a circuit that has generally favoured Red Bull in recent seasons.

“[In 2019] they were quite a bit quicker than us so you’d have to say this is a Red Bull track. But we have had success here in the past,” said Hamilton, who also won there in 2016.

“We did win here last time but that was only because Max made a mistake and got a penalty [which lost him pole], otherwise they were much quicker than us. So we expect that will be very similar this weekend.”

Simon Lazenby is joined by Martin Brundle and Jenson Button to look ahead to this weekend's Mexico City GP.

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Simon Lazenby is joined by Martin Brundle and Jenson Button to look ahead to this weekend’s Mexico City GP.

Simon Lazenby is joined by Martin Brundle and Jenson Button to look ahead to this weekend’s Mexico City GP.

Hamilton added: “We thought that we would be stronger, for example, in somewhere like Austin – they were quite a bit stronger than us there in the race. So I really can’t predict it.

“What I do know is that last year [2019] they outqualified us here and they were down on power compared to us through the year. Now they are ahead on power, there or thereabouts, and they’ve got a very strong car that’s been affected less by the changes in the rules that we were affected by.

“So they are going to be rapid this weekend, last year [2019] they were almost half a second ahead of us, and our car is not better than last year’s car with those changes.”

Despite Red Bull's previous success in Mexico, Max Verstappen is taking nothing for granted as he bids to win his first world title.

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Despite Red Bull’s previous success in Mexico, Max Verstappen is taking nothing for granted as he bids to win his first world title.

Despite Red Bull’s previous success in Mexico, Max Verstappen is taking nothing for granted as he bids to win his first world title.

Nonetheless, with pre-race predictions having been turned on their head on numerous occasions amid the closely-fought Mercedes-Red Bull duel this year, Hamilton said their recent record in Mexico “doesn’t mean we can’t be strong this weekend”.

“But of course it means we have to extract absolutely everything and push absolutely to the limit, trying to leave no stone unturned and no performance on the table, which can happen,” he added.

“So we’re just trying to make sure we cover every area possible.”

Unusually, engine reliability has been an area of trouble for Mercedes this season, with both Hamilton and team-mate Valtteri Bottas already over their respective penalty-free allocations for the season.

However, despite suggestions that Mercedes might choose Mexico as a place to install another unit on Hamilton’s car for the final rounds of the title run-in, the world champion said: “I believe our engines are strong and as far as I’m aware we’re hopefully going to the end.”

Hamilton: ‘I’m here to win in the right way’

Speaking in Thursday’s press conference, Hamilton was also asked about comments made by his Mercedes boss Toto Wolff in an interview with the Daily Mail this week in which the Austrian said he could envisage a scenario where the battle for the crown was decided by a collision in the style of Ayrton Senna and Alain Prost (1989 and 1990) or Michael Schumacher and Jacques Villeneuve (1997).

“If it was to come to the scenario of the last race in Abu Dhabi and they were to be racing each other for the title, whoever is in front is absolutely going to try to do the same as in the Senna-Prost years,” said Wolff.

Hamilton and Verstappen have twice collided significantly this year, at Silverstone and Monza.

But Hamilton said: “Firstly, I have not read what Toto said but I highly doubt that he would insinuate that.

“We have never won a championship in that way; I have never won a championship in that way and would never want to. That’s from my perspective and my point of view. I’m here to win in the right way and that’s through sheer skill, determination and hard work.

“I always want to win it the right way. If you’re going to lose it, you lose it the right way also. Knowing that you have given it your all, you have done things the right way and you have worked as hard as you could.”

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