By Alan Baldwin
MEXICOCITY (Reuters) – Valtteri Bottas needs a miracle to deny Mercedes team mate Lewis Hamilton a sixth Formula One title but the Finn is not completely ruling it out.
Hamilton has a 64-point lead with four races remaining and will clinch the crown in Mexico on Sunday if he scores 14 points more than Bottas.
That may be a tall order, given that the Briton has managed that only once this season and Mexico has not favoured Mercedes in the last two years, but the chances of the battle going on beyond the following weekend in Texas are slim.
Bottas made clear on Thursday, however, that he had not given up all hope.
“I’m not superstitious in any way really but crazy things can always happen, I believe,” he told reporters at the Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez when asked whether he believed in miracles.
“I’ve seen many different crazy things. You never know,” he added.
Bottas won the previous race in Japan, his third victory of the campaign, and arrived in Mexico refreshed after a break in the Seychelles.
The permutations for Sunday are multiple but Hamilton must finish on the podium at the very least to have a chance of wrapping up things.
“It’s getting for sure tougher in each race,” said Bottas. “But there’s no point saying it’s over because it isn’t. It is when it actually happens.
“Obviously, it’s a bit of a longshot, if I’m being realistic but we’ll just focus on individual races and this weekend, like in Japan, really try to do the best I can and try to win the race.”
Mercedes have struggled in Mexico for the past two seasons, but Bottas expressed hope those problems might not reappear on Sunday.
“Last year we had a really difficult race, we were struggling a lot with the tyre dropoff. I don’t know how many pitstops we did,” he said.
“The tyres are slightly harder this year, which could help, and it is a different car and very different setup…what we saw in Japan was we have a good race car and hopefully that will be the case on Sunday again.”
The Finn said Mercedes, who had no driver on the podium in Mexico last year, had understood and analysed last year’s problems.
“We think we know what we should do and we try to fix and do better than last year,” he added. “It was really related to the tyres and which kind of temperature window you operate them and make them last.”
(Reporting by Alan Baldwin, editing by Ed Osmond)