How Lewis Hamilton can win fourth F1 drivers' championship title in United States GP
The two Formula 1 championships took a decisive turn on Sunday in Japan as Lewis Hamilton punished Sebastian Vettel’s early retirement to the full for Mercedes.
There may be four full dates left on the calendar, but the race in Austin in a fortnight’s time could also seal the constructors’ championship for Mercedes, rendering the final three races in Mexico, Brazil and Abu Dhabi rather less meaningful.
Here’s how Hamilton could draw level with Vettel and Alain Prost on four world titles, and Mercedes can win their fourth as well, putting them level with Red Bull...
How Hamilton can win the drivers’ title
Lewis Hamilton (Mercedes) - Grand Prix of Japan 2017Getty Images
Put simply, Hamilton will win his third title in four years if he gets 16 more points than Vettel at the US GP.
Given he has already won eight races to the German’s four, he cannot be caught in a tie-break if the two drivers finish level, so Hamilton is assured of the championship if he can leave Austin with a 75-point lead in the standings, with 75 points still up for grabs in the final three races of the season.
So the following scenarios are what Hamilton needs to bear in mind on October 22:
- Hamilton will win the title if he wins the race in Austin and Vettel fails to finish higher than sixth
- Hamilton will win the title if he comes second and Vettel comes no higher than ninth
- Hamilton cannot win the title if he comes third or below in Austin
It appears a question of when, rather than if, especially with Vettel struggling to score points in all three of the most recent races.
How Mercedes can win the constructors’ title
Pit mechanics tend to Mercedes' Lewis Hamilton's carReuters
With a booming lead of 540 points to Ferrari’s 395, the constructors’ championship is almost finished as a going concern and Mercedes can be confident of landing the title in Austin.
A lead of 145 points puts them in a formidable position. The most a team can score in one race is 43, so even if Ferrari enjoy a one-two in the next three races without Mercedes scoring a single point, they will still be 16 points short of their rivals heading into the final race of the season.
In practice what this means is that Ferrari have to accrue 17 more points than Mercedes in Austin to keep the title hunt alive.