Lewis Hamilton heads into this weekend's Mexican Grand Prix with his first opportunity to wrap up the 2019 Formula 1 world drivers’ championship, but it will not prove an easy task.

Hamilton arrives in Mexico City with a 64-point cushion over Mercedes teammate and sole-remaining title rival Valtteri Bottas, with the Finn reducing the deficit thanks to his third victory of the season last time out in Japan. With 78 points left up for grabs in the final three rounds, Hamilton must ensure his lead is at least that margin come the chequered flag on Sunday.

Simply put, Hamilton needs to outscore Bottas by a 14-point swing in Mexico to land his third successive title triumph and sixth overall. For example, the Briton will claim the title if he wins the race and takes the fastest lap bonus point with Bottas finishing off the podium.

In any scenario that Bottas should fail to score, then a 15th podium finish of the campaign would be enough for Hamilton to prevail. Hamilton must be stood on the Mexico rostrum to have any chance of winning the title at the first attempt.

Hamilton has sealed the title at the Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez in the last two seasons, though making it three on the bounce will be difficult, given Mercedes’ performance struggles at the high-altitude venue.

Mercedes has promised to “play the most fair game” in letting its drivers both race freely in the pursuit for the 2019 crown, so do not expect any team orders to come into play amid the all Silver title.

Mexican GP title permutations:

The following scenarios will see the title fight continue on to the United States Grand Prix on November 3.

- Bottas must finish third or higher if Hamilton wins and takes fastest lap bonus point

- Bottas must finish fourth or higher if Hamilton wins but does not take the fastest lap bonus point

- Bottas must finish seventh or higher if Hamilton finishes second

- Bottas must finish eighth or higher if Hamilton finishes third and takes fastest lap bonus point

- Bottas must finish ninth or higher if Hamilton finishes third but does not take the fastest lap bonus point

Winning a sixth world title would move Hamilton ahead of Juan Manuel Fangio into a clear second place in the history books, leaving him just one shy of matching Michael Schumacher’s all-time record (7).

What have the Mercedes pair said?

Hamilton insisted after the Japanese Grand Prix that he is in no hurry to seal the deal, adding: “I think for me it’s never been a case of always wanting to rush things.

“Valtteri’s driven well all year long, he’s done a great job today 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.”

Meanwhile, Bottas said: “I don’t really give up on anything as long as there’s a theoretical chance so there’s no point in that.

“Everything’s possible although I’m realistic as well that I will need to be very lucky, that’s a fact, to win all the rest of the races but yeah, I don’t really think about that much at this point.

“It is my bad, mostly, that I’ve been behind this much in the points compared to Lewis, it’s my fault which I try to fix for the future but it is where we are now and just take it now race by race and see how it goes.”

 

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