Thu, Oct 26, 4:13pm by Staff Writer
Daniel Ricciardo’s prospects for this week’s Formula One Mexican Grand Prix depend as much upon the Red Bull mechanics as it does on his ability behind the wheel.
Last week’s winner, Lewis Hamilton, may have more reasons to celebrate with the Mercedes driver tipped to wrap up the driver’s title in Mexico.
Ricciardo failed to finish last week’s US GP after his engine suffered a serious oil leak.
Teammate Max Verstappen, meanwhile, was headed for the podium using the team’s only upgraded Renault engine when his effort was undone by a steward’s penalty for a chancy overtaking move.
Red Bull now wants to salvage the Australian’s engine for Mexico, but Ricciardo doesn’t think it’s going to happen and has resigned himself to starting from the back of the grid as penalty for switching units.
“I think we’ll probably have to take a penalty which means that I will start at the back in Mexico,” he said this week.
“I’ll do my best to try and charge through the field and you’ll hopefully see more … in Mexico.”
Ricciardo is William Hill’s sixth favourite to win at the Autódromo Hermanos Rodríguez on $26, while Hamilton is favourite on just $1.83.
Sebastian Vettel’s Ferrari lacked the speed to keep up the Mercedes driver in Texas and is paying $3.50 to win, with Verstappen and his upgraded engine third favourite at $5.50, Hamilton’s teammate Valteri Bottas on $13 and Ferrari driver Kimi Raikkonen on $21.
Hamilton’s US victory was his fifth from six races since the end of August and he shows no intention of letting up in the latter stages of the season.
Mercedes has already celebrated a fourth consecutive constructors’ championship in Texas and holds a 66-point lead on Vettel in the driver’s standings.
If Hamilton finishes ahead of Vettel at Hermanos Rodriguez, regardless of their finishing positions, he will be world champion.
Despite Ricciardo’s uncertainty, the Aussie is paying $3.75 to claim his 10th podium of the season, an attractive bet for a driver who finished third in Mexico last year and may yet start from near the front of the grid.
Hamilton is on just $1.28 to finish in the top three, with Vettel at $1.33, Verstappen on $1.50, Bottas on $2.10 and Raikkonen $2.60.
The Autódromo Hermanos Rodríguez in Mexico City was a staple of international motor sport in the 1960s and ‘80s before returning in its current form in 2015.
The twisting circuit is difficult for overtaking outside of the straights, making corner entry a premium and prone to tussles.
The extra horsepower of the Mercedes cars will give Hamilton and Bottas a distinct advantage.
The Mexican GP, however, is held at an altitude of more than 2000 metres, which substantially alters the dynamics of the cars.
At least weather should not be a factor, with warm, sunny days forecast from practice through to race day.
The Mexican GP gets underway at 6am Monday morning AEST.
Suggested Bet: Take Ricciardo to make the podium: $3.75
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