Lewis Hamilton has had a sixth Formula One title all but wrapped up for some time. In Sunday's Mexican Grand Prix, he edged ever closer.
Hamilton needed to outscore his Mercedes team-mate Valtteri Bottas by 14 points or more at the Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez but was made to wait as the Finn came in third.
It seems a matter of when, not if, for Hamilton however, as he nears capping another extraordinarily consistent campaign with another deserved title.
But while Hamilton – and Mercedes – have continued their dominance of F1® in style, 2019 has at least offered hope to others that title tilts of their own may be on the horizon.
With Hamilton showing no signs of letting up, who can be the main challengers to his crown next term?
— Formula 1 (@F1) October 28, 2019
With successive wins in Belgium and Italy this season it has been a breakthrough campaign for Leclerc, who does not seem far off replacing Sebastian Vettel as Ferrari's number one driver.
Vettel's resurgence in the latter stage of the campaign has helped the four-time champions' cause, though Leclerc is undoubtedly the future for the team with nine podium finishes in 2019.
The 22-year-old has more than proved his quality this year and, with three races remaining, sits six points ahead of his team-mate in the drivers' standings. If he gets the better of Vettel, then Hamilton should be his next target.
Happy Birthday, @Charles_Leclerc !
The @ScuderiaFerrari star is 22 today
— Formula 1 (@F1) October 16, 2019
F1®'s youngest ever competitor looked set for a title challenge when he claimed two victories as part of three podium spots in four races between June and August.
Unfortunately for Red Bull the 22-year-old's form has since dipped, with Verstappen making the top three in only one of the following six grands prix.
The Dutchman's luck seemed to have changed when he clinched the second pole position of his career in Mexico City, only to be handed a three-place grid penalty.
However, despite his struggles of late, Verstappen – who is 10 points shy of Vettel in fifth in the championship standings – is one of the most talented drivers on the grid and should see himself as a contender for 2020.
— Aston Martin Red Bull Racing (@redbullracing) October 28, 2019
Hamilton has rightly taken the limelight, but the hard work and consistency shown by Bottas should not go unnoticed.
Bottas has improved no end since moving to Mercedes and is on course to complete his best season, having come third and fifth in 2017 and 2018 respectively.
By accumulating three victories this term, he is just 16 points shy of the 305 he earned in 2017.
There was some uncertainty Bottas would be remaining at Mercedes, with reserve driver Esteban Ocon – who has now joined Renault for 2020 – chomping at the bit to be given his chance, but Toto Wolff has stuck by the Finn, who will surely be aiming to switch a supporting role for a lead part next season.