Lewis Hamilton may have sewn up his third Formula 1 world championship in Austin last weekend, but there is still plenty to play for in the final three races of the 2015 season – starting with the Mexican Grand Prix on Sunday (live on NBC from 1:30pm ET).
Much of the attention in the lead up to Sunday’s race in Mexico City has been on the renewed tensions between Hamilton and Mercedes teammate Nico Rosberg, with the latter being left frustrated by the Briton’s move at the start of the United States GP.
After taking pole on Saturday, Rosberg said that he is preparing himself for an exciting battle with Hamilton on the run down to the first corner, setting the stage for a great fight between the Mercedes drivers.
Today’s Mexican Grand Prix is the first since 1992, and has been warmly received by the locals who packed out the grandstands on Friday and Saturday, amassing a combined attendance of almost 200,000 – and that’s before race day.
Here’s what to watch for in today’s Mexican Grand Prix, live on NBC and Live Extra from 1:30pm ET on Sunday.
2015 Mexican Grand Prix – What To Watch For
Lewis, Nico and turn one
Hamilton’s move at the start of last weekend’s race in Austin was certainly aggressive, but most have deemed it to be fair. Rosberg does not fall into the “most” category though, and has been fired up all weekend long as a result.
He insisted that his charge to pole on Saturday was not fuelled by anger, but Rosberg knows that another defeat to Hamilton here would hurt his reputation further. Having not won a race since the end of June and now facing a challenge to beat Sebastian Vettel to P2 in the championship, Rosberg desperately needs a win here.
All eyes will be on their battle down to turn one and whether there’s a repeat of Austin. Last time Rosberg was this angry, they clashed at Spa. Is a repeat on the cards?
Bunching the field
The lack of tire data and slippery surface at the Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez has made for an interesting weekend thus far, with a number of drivers being caught out by the lack of grip. Should any of the forecast rain arrive on Sunday, the situation will only worsen and leave most of the teams working their strategies on the fly.
As with most new races, Pirelli expects the Mexican Grand Prix to be a one-stopper, but it will be interesting to see if any of the teams elect to try a two-stop strategy.
The new circuit has also caused a bunching of the field at the front. Although Mercedes may remain the pace-setters, Ferrari looms large behind, and with Red Bull, Williams and Force India also running well, the battle in the points promises to be a fierce one.
Perez seeks home success
Sergio Perez will fulfil a life-long dream today by racing in the Mexican Grand Prix – a feat he previously thought impossible due to the absence of the race in F1. The fans who packed the rafters went crazy for Checo even in practice on Friday and Saturday; the atmosphere will be booming again in the race.
Perez will start ninth after Force India mistimed its Q3 run on Saturday, but his race pace has been good so far this weekend, putting him in the running for a strong result that would send the partisan crowd into raptures.
Rain and chaos?
In what has become a recurring story in 2015, both McLarens will once again start from the back row of the grid thanks to power unit penalties. Fernando Alonso said after qualifying that he wanted “rain and chaos” on Sunday, hoping for a repeat of the US GP where he should have picked up some points for his efforts.
Rain could strike the Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez during today’s race, and should it do so, a race similar to Austin may be on the cards – and we all know how great that was.
2015 Mexican Grand Prix – Starting Grid
1. Nico Rosberg Mercedes
2. Lewis Hamilton Mercedes
3. Sebastian Vettel Ferrari
4. Daniil Kvyat Red Bull
5. Daniel Ricciardo Red Bull
6. Valtteri Bottas Williams
7. Felipe Massa Williams
8. Max Verstappen Toro Rosso
9. Sergio Perez Force India
10. Nico Hulkenberg Force India
11. Carlos Sainz Jr Toro Rosso
12. Romain Grosjean Lotus
13. Pastor Maldonado Lotus
14. Marcus Ericsson Sauber
15. Felipe Nasr Sauber
16. Alexander Rossi Manor
17. Will Stevens Manor
18. Kimi Raikkonen Ferrari*
19. Fernando Alonso McLaren*
20. Jenson Button McLaren*
* grid penalty
The Mexican Grand Prix is live on NBC and Live Extra from 1:30pm ET on Sunday.