It was a case of deja vu last Sunday as Max Verstappen took his Red Bull to a resounding victory in Mexico and Mercedes’ Lewis Hamilton deservedly won the world drivers’ championship – as was the case last year.
Hamilton was emotional on his fifth world title – made more significant as he equalled Juan Manuel Fangio’s record set in 1957.
Scenes at the end of the race were heart warming.
Verstappen’s joy contrasted with second-placed Sebastian Vettel. But it was good for the sport to witness Vettel curtailing his post-race interview to congratulate his rival.
The respect was obvious and the German was later reported as saying: “I congratulated him, asked him to keep pushing next year and we’ll fight him again.”
What more can go wrong for Daniel Ricciardo, who suffered his eighth non finish this year?
At the start he spun the rear wheels and lost his pole position advantage, but he fought back on a one-stop strategy.
In the final laps he was fighting to stave off Vettel’s chase of race-leader Verstappen when hydraulic failure sidelined the Australian.
His despair was obvious, and I hope Renault will be able to provide a fast, reliable car when he joins them in 2019.
With the drivers’ title sewn up, it’s now the fight for the constructor’s championship and another difficult time for Ferrari. The team faces a situation similar to the one they have just experienced in the chase for the drivers’ title, when Vettel had to win in Mexico to keep his aspirations alive.
It will be interesting to watch the outcome in Brazil and Abu Dhabi. Mercedes head the constructors’ table on 585 points with Ferrari trailing by 55 points and there are just 86 points available.
It will be another close call and will require both Vettel and Kimi Raikkonen on the top steps of the podium to have any hope of snatching the championship away from Mercedes.
Hamilton and Bottas only have to score 16 points between them at both the Autodromo Jose Carlos Pace and Yas Marina circuits and unless the Silver Arrows hit major problems, I cannot see them not achieving that.
Red Bull have third place in the constructors’ championship well covered and Renault look solid with a 30-point lead over Haas for fourth, but from there on down there are still a few battles to be resolved.
McLaren and Force India are separated by 15 points and if Perez and Ocon’s luck does not change it could be a boost for the Woking-based team.
The fight for ninth is a close one and could go either way between Sauber and Toro Rosso.
At present it is the Ferrari-powered Sauber which has the upper hand by just three points over the Honda-driven Toro Rosso’s.
This is a fight that Helmut Marko and Christian Horner will be watching closely, with just two races between the Renault-powered Red Bull and next season’s switch to the, as yet, unproven Japanese power unit.
Sadly Williams will remain at the bottom of the 2018 log.
Raikkonen’s win in the US and third last weekend in Mexico has shown there is still a wealth of talent and a burning will to win in the 39-year-old Finn.
I believe his move to the Alfa Romeo Sauber team next year could be beneficial to both man and machine.
Sauber Formula One chief Frederic Vasseur is waiting for confirmation that Raikkonen will be allowed to test with the team following the last race and then subsequently testing at the Yas Marina circuit.
Partnering with Antonio Giovinazzi next year, the combination could be the beginning of a new era for the Swiss-based team.