MEXICAN GRAND PRIX: Lewis Hamilton has claimed his sixth win in the United States grand prix and that has edged him ever closer to his fourth drivers championship. Sebastian Vettel fought well (a nice departure from the recent no contests) but the Ferrari seemingly didn’t have the form on the day.
That leaves a 66 point gap with three races remaining. It’s not a mathematical impossibility for Vettel to win, but it would take optimism bordering on delusion to be holding out for him! Nonetheless, we have three races left in the season with a lot of information about the cars and drivers, which gives us plenty of opportunity to find value in the markets.
The Autodromo Hernandez Rodriguez is a fast, high altitude track which asks a lot of a cars power unit. Having been renovated for it’s reintroduction to the calendar in 2015, perhaps not surprisingly, Mercedes have achieved a 1-2 in the two races held since. However, that hardly tells the whole story given the front of the field has started to tighten up. Moreover, this isn’t just marginally the highest track on the calendar; it is over three times the altitude of the Austrian grand prix, held in the Alps. This has two effects on the machinery on track. Lower air density means less oxygen gets to the engine for combustion and there is less downforce (and drag) generated from the aero parts. Hybrid era engines can make up for this somewhat by forcing more air into the intakes but at a higher stress level to the components.
With all the teams pushing the envelope as they get more familiar with the current regulations, one has to think the altitude is more likely to have an adverse affect. The Mercedes W08 has been very strong in mid-high speed corners this year because it has some of the most intricate aerodynamics on the grid. This track will likely erode that advantage and if that hinders tyre warmup, the problem could compound itself. In all likelihood, this won’t happen given the low temperatures that are forecast but keep a keen eye on practice 1/2, particularly their long runs relative to the field.
On the whole, Ferrari have put together a more adaptable and nimble car so they should be less sensitive to the aero losses from the altitude. Despite that, they are likely to be hurt by the two long fast straights. Expect to see ferrari shorten that little bit after practice
Red Bull have shown surprising pace the last four races so one could be forgiven for feeling they are a good outside shout, but this track will likely cause them a headache. The Renault power deficit will be pronounced here and they will struggle to improve on their typical third row.
On Course for Points
Force India are, yet again, a great pick for points finishes. The track will suit them and both drivers are excellent. The final two points positions are poised to go to the the fresh driver lineup over at Renault (Carlos Sainz looks blindingly fast), or perhaps a surprise result from Lance Stroll in the Williams. Look for favourable prices just before lights out on Sunday.
Mercedes are the most likely to win, meaning specifically Hamilton. However, we can do better than just backing the winner. Vettel is a little long at the moment (4.0) so there is a great opportunity to back him now, only to lay out of the position after practice where he likely shortens. Conversely, the best time to back Hamilton is after the practice sessions, where he has not shown his ultimate pace and therefore will likely have lengthened from his current 2.0. Laying him now is a little risky but could prove bountiful in the long run.
It’s likely to be the Mercedes show this weekend, but that won’t stop us gaining an edge on the market as it develops!
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