Marco Andretti: “We’re on par for a great season”

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The confidence continues to grow for Marco Andretti, who is now the only IZOD IndyCar Series driver with Top-10 finishes in all four races this season after claiming a third-place result on Sunday at the Sao Paulo Indy 300.

Andretti, who often faltered on road and street courses in 2012, has done the opposite so far in 2013. His run to third in Brazil, which culminated with a last-lap pass of Josef Newgarden to get on the podium, has him believing that this year could be something special for him and his No. 25 RC Cola Andretti Autosport group.

“I think right now, we’re on par for a great season,” said Andretti, who sits second in the IndyCar championship behind Takuma Sato thanks to his early-season success. “[Road/street courses are] what used to be the tough part of the season for me. We’ve been getting some decent results where I used to struggle, so I’m pleased with that.”

With the Indianapolis 500 coming up, he appears to be coming on strong at the right time. Last year at Indy, the third-generation racer qualified fourth and led a race-high 59 laps but couldn’t stay up front in the second half and ended his day crashing with 12 laps to go.

There’s no doubt that he will be itching to erase that bad memory, one almost as gut-wrenching as when he lost the 2006 ‘500’ to Sam Hornish Jr. by six one-hundredths of a second. But while he’ll go all-out for victory at the Brickyard — he is, after all, an Andretti — he knows that there’s the championship to consider, too.

“We have some good momentum going, but we’ve always run well at Indianapolis,” he said. “Obviously, it’s a totally different ballgame being an oval. We just have to get a good race car there. If we can’t win, get another good result and keep the points going.”

How Hamilton, Mercedes can clinch F1 titles at the United States GP

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Sunday’s United States Grand Prix could go down as a memorable race in Formula 1 history as both Lewis Hamilton and Mercedes bid to clinch their fourth world championships (live on NBC and NBC Sports app from 2pm ET).

Hamilton gave his chances of wrapping up the drivers’ title and re-claiming the crown he lost to Nico Rosberg in 2016 a world of good by charging to pole position on Saturday at the Circuit of The Americas.

However, with chief rival Sebastian Vettel starting second for Ferrari and a 16-point swing required, it seems likely that the title race could continue to next weekend’s Mexican Grand Prix.

Nevertheless, here are the permutations for Lewis Hamilton to win his fourth F1 world title on Sunday in Austin, Texas.

  • If Lewis Hamilton wins the race (25 points) and Sebastian Vettel finishes sixth or lower (maximum eight points), he is world champion.
  • If Hamilton finishes second (18 points), Sebastian Vettel finishes ninth or lower (maximum two points), and Valtteri Bottas does not win the race, he is world champion.

While Hamilton’s coronation seems likely to be postponed until the next race in Mexico, Mercedes looks nailed-on to wrap up its fourth consecutive constructors’ championship in Sunday’s USGP.

The German marque currently leads Ferrari by 145 points in the teams’ standings, and requires a lead of 129 after the race to clinch the crown.

As a result, a double top-four finish from Hamilton and Bottas would be enough for Mercedes to wrap up the title, regardless of how Ferrari fares.

The success would see Mercedes become just the fourth team in F1 history take four straight constructors’ titles, following Red Bull (2010 to 2013), Ferrari (1999 to 2004) and McLaren (1988 to 1991).

The United States Grand Prix is live on NBC and the NBC Sports app from 2pm ET on Sunday.