What to watch for: Mexican GP (NBC, NBC Sports app from 2:30pm ET)

Getty Images

Lewis Hamilton looks poised to be crowned Formula 1 world champion for a fourth time on Sunday, requiring only a top-five finish to clinch the title at the Mexican Grand Prix (NBC, NBC Sports app from 2:30pm ET).


Five wins in the last six races and a collapse from Ferrari rival Sebastian Vettel has seen Hamilton move into a commanding position at the top of the drivers’ championship, leading by 66 points.

So long as his advantage is at least 50 by the checkered flag in Mexico City, Hamilton will become just the fifth driver in F1 history to have four titles to his name.

While the result seems a formality given Hamilton starts third on the grid and in light of his recent form, there are still a number of big storylines that are poised to play out in Mexico on Sunday.

You can watch the Mexican Grand Prix live on NBC and the NBC Sports app from 2:30pm ET on Sunday. CLICK HERE to watch via live stream.

2017 Mexican Grand Prix – What to watch for

Hamilton out to win in style in Mexico

Lewis Hamilton may only require a top-five finish to clinch his fourth F1 world title on Sunday, yet the Briton is keen to seal the deal in style by taking his 10th victory of the year.

Hamilton lagged behind Vettel and Max Verstappen in qualifying on Saturday, taking P3 on the grid, but was confident about Mercedes’ long-run pace after an impressive outing in Friday’s practice sessions.

The podium and atmosphere in Mexico are among the most unique of the season, making it a perfect place for Hamilton to be coronated. Doing so in parc ferme will be a little more underwhelming, though.

Vettel, Ferrari seek late-season boost

Sebastian Vettel may be set to suffer just the second title-race defeat of his F1 career (after 2009) on Sunday, yet the German remains fully-focused on giving Ferrari a boost after a rough patch with victory in Mexico.

The high-altitude nature of the Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez – some 2,200 meters above sea level – means all teams can run with high-downforce setups, playing into the hands of Ferrari, which has already won at similar tracks in Monaco and Hungary.

Vettel’s title hopes may be all but over, but a win here would do wonders to stop the rut and ease some of the pressure on those at Maranello.

Will Verstappen be in the picture?

Max Verstappen almost made F1 history on Saturday, coming within one-tenth of a second of becoming the sport’s youngest-ever pole-sitter, only for Vettel’s stunning final lap in Q3 to deny him in the last moments of the session.

Nevertheless, much as the high-downforce setup required in Mexico has played to Ferrari’s advantage, so it also has for Red Bull. The RB13 car has gone well on high-downforce tracks this year, with Verstappen taking an impressive win in Malaysia, putting him in the frame in the fight at the front.

The start-line drama in Singapore will lead to questions about how both Vettel and Verstappen will handle the long run down to Turn 1, yet both will know this race represents a golden chance for victory.

Perez aims for big result at home

Sergio Perez has been the star figure through the Mexican Grand Prix weekend, flying the flag on home soil, but a poor lap in qualifying left him P10 overall in qualifying.

The result left Perez disappointed, yet all eyes will still be on him to impress on Sunday on a weekend that has seen Mexico come together and show its strength just one month after the earthquake that hit its capital.

The race should be a straightforward one-stop, but Perez’s knack for good tire management could put him in the pound seat to lead the midfield fight should there be any drama ahead.

Force India’s hunt for that elusive podium this year shows few signs of a resolution soon, but if it were to come anywhere, Mexico would surely be the perfect place for it.

Alonso and McLaren ready to fight from the back

One of the biggest surprises of qualifying came courtesy of Fernando Alonso in Q1 as the Spaniard finished fifth-fastest, as well as turning in the best time through the middle sector.

Alonso has played up the true pace of McLaren’s MCL32 car throughout the season, and went as far as saying it was the best in the field after qualifying such was his pace early on.

Grid penalties meant Alonso was always set to fall back, making a pace run in Q2 pointless, but the signs from the team are positive, making his movement on Sunday worth keeping an eye on.

2017 Mexican Grand Prix – Starting Grid

1. Sebastian Vettel Ferrari
2. Max Verstappen Red Bull
3. Lewis Hamilton Mercedes
4. Valtteri Bottas Mercedes
5. Kimi Raikkonen Ferrari
6. Esteban Ocon Force India
7. Daniel Ricciardo Red Bull
8. Nico Hulkenberg Renault
9. Carlos Sainz Jr. Renault
10. Sergio Perez Force India
11. Felipe Massa Williams
12. Lance Stroll Williams
13. Brendon Hartley Toro Rosso
14. Marcus Ericsson Sauber
15. Pascal Wehrlein Sauber
16. Kevin Magnussen Haas
17. Romain Grosjean Haas
18. Fernando Alonso McLaren*
19. Stoffel Vandoorne McLaren*
20. Pierre Gasly Toro Rosso*

AJ Foyt Racing promotes Benjamin Pedersen from Indy Lights to IndyCar for 2023 season

Benjamin Pedersen AJ Foyt
AJ Foyt Racing

Benjamin Pedersen is the first driver to land a promotion from Indy Lights into IndyCar for next season as AJ Foyt Racing confirmed Wednesday he’ll be part of its 2023 lineup.

Pedersen, a 23-year-old dual citizen of Denmark and the United States, spent last season running the full Indy Lights schedule for HMD Motorsports. Linus Lundqvist, his teammate, won the Lights title, and Pedersen finished fifth in the final standings. Pedersen earned his only win earlier this month when he led every lap from the pole at Portland.

Pedersen also ran four races for HMD in 2021 with back-to-back runner-up finishes in his debut. Pedersen landed on AJ Foyt Racing team president Larry Foyt’s radar through a “trusted colleague” and Pedersen spent most of last season shadowing the IndyCar team.

His promotion to IndyCar comes ahead of all four drivers who finished ahead of him in the Indy Lights standings, including champion Lundqvist.

“We are really looking forward to having Benjamin as part of the team,” Larry Foyt said. “His enthusiasm is infectious, and he is 100 percent committed to IndyCar, AJ Foyt Racing, and doing the best he can to win races.

“It’s been great to have him embedded with the team this past season, and everyone is excited to hit the ground running when testing begins. It is also great to have a multi-year program in place, which will help him and the team grow together.”

Foyt did not announce a car number for Pedersen. Kyle Kirkwood spent his rookie season driving AJ Foyt’s flagship No. 14 but Kirkwood is moving to Andretti Autosport. The team has not yet announced if Dalton Kellett will return for a fourth season, and a third car for Tatiana Calderon was pulled from competition after seven races because of sponsorship non-payment. Shutting down Calderon’s team removed the only semi-regular female driver from the IndyCar field.

Pedersen, however, was signed to an agreement Foyt said “spans multiple seasons as the team plans to develop the young rookie and is aligned to a longer-term plan for AJ Foyt Racing.”

Pedersen was born in Copenhagen but raised in Seattle and currently lives in Indianapolis. He said his time shadowing the IndyCar team has given him a jump on his rookie preparations.

“I’ve spent a lot of time this season with AJ Foyt Racing learning the ins and outs of making the jump to IndyCar and it’s been really nice to do that in conjunction with my Indy Lights season,” Pedersen said. “IndyCar has been my target goal since I started open wheel racing in 2016. The racing, atmosphere, fans, events, tracks, etc. are all awesome.”