Sebastian Vettel may enjoy a sizeable championship lead of sixty points over closest-rival Fernando Alonso, but the German driver will not be easing off in the final six races of the season as he goes in search of a third consecutive Korean Grand Prix victory next weekend.
Vettel won the race at Yeongam in 2011 and 2012, and he may well have won the inaugural race in 2010, but he retired whilst leading due to an engine failure. However, he conceded that Red Bull may struggle on the long straights at the circuit.
“The track in Korea has a bit of an unusual layout,” Vettel said. “The long straights all come right at the beginning and the turns at the end. I love the curvy part because it is a lot more fun, whereas the straight lines and sharp turns can be a little boring. They are also our weakness, because we often lack in top speed there.”
Since becoming front-runners, Red Bull have traditionally excelled on the high downforce circuits and struggled at the faster tracks such as Monza and Montreal. However, this season, Vettel appears to have bucked this trend by winning in both Italy and Canada, suggesting that the long straights in Korea will not harm the team too much.
As well as chasing his third consecutive win in Korea, Vettel will be looking to claim his fourth win in a row in 2013. His recent run of form has created a championship lead that it is difficult to see him losing, with the Indian Grand Prix being the most likely location of his coronation as a four-time world champion.
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.