A carnival atmosphere awaits as Formula 1 touches down for the Mexican Grand Prix this weekend.
After Mercedes wrapped up a sixth straight Constructors’ title in Japan last time out, Lewis Hamilton now has the chance to become just the second driver in history to become a six-time champion.
To do that, he has to outscore teammate Valtteri Bottas by 14 points or more, but Mexico City hasn’t been the strongest destination for Mercedes in recent years.
So here’s your guide to all the action this weekend.
About the race:
Though Mexico is a pretty recent returnee to the F1 calendar, the race itself has a long history dating back to the first world championship Grand Prix in 1963.
That first stint lasted until 1970 at what was then called the Magdalena Mixhuca and saw great names like Jim Clark, Graham Hill and John Surtees all enjoy success.
After a lengthy absence, the race retuned at the renamed Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez in 1986 and again only the best would succeed with Senna, Prost and Mansell taking victories.
Mexico fell off again after 1992 due to safety concerns, however, but as the country increased its motorsport presence, the race returned for a third time in 2015 and has recently signing a new contract to stay until 2022.
Nico Rosberg and Lewis Hamilton shared a win apiece initially for Mercedes, but the past two years have been dominated by one man, Max Verstappen, even if Lewis has secured the championship on both occasions.
As F1 has evolved over the decades so has the circuit, with the Esses section now more flowing and faster than before and the famous Peraltada sadly no longer used.
Instead, the final sector now weaves through the Foro Sol baseball stadium where thousands of fans create the atmosphere this race is known for, although as a driving experience it’s hardly Spa or Suzuka.
A unique challenge at the Mexican GP is the altitude with this the highest race above sea level at 2,240m.
This means cars run Monaco levels of downforce due to the thin air but top speeds have still reached 370kph (230mph) on the long main straight.
With the usual engine disparity less of an issue and a pretty short lap in terms of time, gaps have been tiny between the top three teams and there’s no reason that shouldn’t be the case again this weekend.
Top Pick: Lewis Hamilton ($32.5m)
As mentioned, since winning this race in 2016, Mexico has been cruel to be kind to Hamilton with a P9 and P4 enough to see him crowned champion on both occasions.
This year, however, should see the Briton back in the fight for victory thanks to Mercedes’ high downforce approach with the 2019 car.
Also, Red Bull aren’t as strong aerodynamically as recent years and while Ferrari are the big threat, it will be interesting to see if they have pace in the technical second and third sectors to maintain the likely advantage they’ll enjoy on the straights in the first part of the lap.
Medium pick: Alex Albon ($14.0m)
Suzuka could be considered a key race for Albon and his future as he impressed in qualifying to match the pace of teammate Verstappen.
A poor start threatened to undo his strong performance but he recovered to eventually finish fourth, his best result so far in F1.
With confidence clearly rising then, though Mexico is a new track for the Thai driver, if Red Bull is as competitive as recent years, he could be a dark horse to watch.
Low pick: Lando Norris ($5.5m)
Norris remains an absolute no-brainer to have in your fantasy team given the speed of McLaren, even if his luck has been pretty terrible this season.
With a clean weekend though, a strong top 10 is highly likely and certainly more so than those of a similar price.
Sergio Perez ($10.7m)
The local hero always gets massive support in Mexico and recent signs are strong that Perez can enjoy a good result at his home race.
Also in his favour is Mexico’s notoriously tough on tyres as drivers struggle for grip and if that is repeated, that could play very nicely into his hands.
Carlos Sainz ($9.2m)
Any fantasy team without Sainz on it is practically doomed from the start right now, with the Spaniard dominating the midfield.
Indeed, Carlos has finished inside the top six at five of the past eight races and few would bet against him doing so again in Mexico.
That concludes our preview for the Mexican GP, so head on over to PlayOn.co now to enter your teams today and win big cash prizes!