Ferrari driver has to score 17 points more than Hamilton at the Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez to keep his championship hopes on life support as far as the next race in Brazil on November 12
Lewis Hamilton set to finish the job in Mexico with Sebastian Vettel needing a miracle to deny Mercedes man fourth F1 title
Delayed in Austin, Texas last weekend, Lewis Hamilton looks set for a coronation in Mexico City this as Sebastian Vettel will need a miracle to deny his rival being crowned Britain's first four-time Formula One world champion.
Vettel's second-place finish behind Hamilton at the Circuit of the Americas last Sunday seemed to merely delay inevitable: the Mercedes-GP driver has a 66 point advantage over the Ferrari man with three races remaining worth a grand total of 75.
Any hopes of Vettel taking it down to the wire at the Etihad Airways Abu Dhabi Grand Prix next month are also dimmed by the fact Hamilton is also well clear in terms of the number of race wins this season, the first decider in case of a points tie, with nine to Vettel's four.
Put simply, Vettel has to score 17 points more than Hamilton at the Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez to keep his championship hopes on life support as far as the next race in Brazil on November 12.
Regardless of where the German ends up, Hamilton need only finish fifth to get the party started. And if the Ferrari driver retires during the race, Hamilton will be world champion before he has even seen the chequered flag.
Hamilton is in imperious form as ahead of the Mexico Grand Prix with five wins in the past six grands prix. The high-altitude circuit could well favour Ferrari more than Mercedes, but Hamilton won from pole position last year as he looked to chase down his then Mercedes teammate Nico Rosberg in the drivers' championship.
The pressure, what little there is remaining, is all on Vettel.
It will take the biggest comeback the sport has ever seen to deny Hamilton now, even if Mercedes continue to urge caution.
"I can imagine every scenario," Mercedes team chief Toto Wolff told reporters in Texas on Sunday night when asked if he could envisage Hamilton not winning.
"This is motor racing. Sebastian had a DNF [did not finish] in Singapore, scored little in Sepang [Malaysia] and DNF at Suzuka.
"So it is not done until you’ve mathematically achieved it," added the Austrian, whose team have already wrapped up the constructors' championship for the fourth year in a row.
An interesting sideshow to the title race revolves around Max Verstappen, with the Red Bull Racing driver very much in the spotlight after criticising stewards for imposing a time penalty in Austin that demoted him from third to fourth.
That argument is likely to rumble on for a while.
Mexican fans will meanwhile be firmly behind Force India's Sergio Perez, still hoping for a dream appearance on his home podium, and will have an extra local to cheer on when Alfonso Celis Jr takes part in Friday free practice.
Brendon Hartley will have a second chance to push his claims for a Toro Rosso drive after making a strong debut in the United States last weekend.
The 27-year-old New Zealander has been kept on while Russian Daniil Kvyat is dropped to make way for the returning French rookie Pierre Gasly.