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How Mexico's unique situation could put Mercedes in win mix

The unique conditions found in Mexico could prove a factor in propelling Mercedes into victory contention this weekend.

There are now just three chances remaining for Lewis Hamilton to keep one of the more remarkable records of his Formula 1 career intact. It is well-versed that the seven-time champion is the only driver in history to have won at least one Grand Prix in every season of their career - but it is now under threat. Currently winless after 19 rounds in 2022, Hamilton has chances in Mexico, Brazil and Abu Dhabi to cross the line first and maintain the record into a 16th successive season. The W13 has struggled all season with a variety of ailments - from porpoising to bouncing to a fundamental lack of straight line speed with a draggy design. But the unique nature of the Circuit Hermanos Rodriguez makes victory prospects for Hamilton or George Russell appetising.

High above sea level

Mexico City stands 2,240 metres above sea level, meaning the air density is considerably lower than at somewhere like Baku or Abu Dhabi - either below or at sea level. It means the cars usually run Monaco levels of downforce but only generate Monza loads throughout the race with barn-door rear wings a sight not too unfamiliar. As a result drag is considerably reduced, creating some ultra-high top speeds through the speed trap - located at the end of the main straight and into Turn 1. And drag is something that has hampered the Mercedes - with the team nearly 9.9 kph slower in the United States than the fastest speeds recorded. However, the lack of it in Mexico it should be an equaliser for Mercedes, bringing them into contention - especially given the car's speed in race conditions. At Austin, Hamilton was comfortably holding onto second place behind Max Verstappen and was only caught in the final laps as the Dutchman switched to a set of Mediums compared to Hamilton's Hards for the closing stint. The car has suffered in one-lap qualifying conditions, but remains a threat on Sundays - especially through Mercedes being as sharp as ever operationally despite its slump in performance. Hamilton and Russell both have a lack of pure grunt to overcome, but given the W13 has been at its most competitive in high-downforce conditions - think Hungary and the Netherlands - the team expects Mexico to be a strong weekend. Brazil in two weeks' is also high above sea level, but a significant push out of the final corner up the hill is required. While the Merc should be good throughout the second sector at Interlagos, it will not be as strong throughout the final sector. Mexico is rather flat by comparison, meaning the race this weekend could be the final realistic chance for Hamilton to keep his unique record intact.

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