Following his eighth victory of the season on Sunday in Japan, Lewis Hamilton can mathematically clinch his fourth Formula 1 world championship in two weeks’ time at the United States Grand Prix.
Hamilton wrapped up his third title in 2015 at the Circuit of The Americas in Austin, Texas (pictured), having enjoyed an edge on Mercedes’ teammate Nico Rosberg throughout the season.
Hamilton’s advantage has been much, much smaller this year, only for a collapse from Ferrari and Sebastian Vettel to put him on the brink of winning the title in Austin.
59 points clear with four races and 100 points to go, Hamilton needs to be 75 ahead after the USGP to wrap up the title with three races to spare.
To win the title in Austin, Hamilton needs to outscore Vettel by 16 points. Even if Vettel were to finish tied on points at the end of the year by winning all of the following three races, Hamilton would win it by virtue of having more victories.
There are two ways for Hamilton to achieve this in Austin:
- If Hamilton wins the race (25 points) and Vettel finishes sixth or lower (maximum eight points), he is world champion.
- If Hamilton finishes second (18 points) and Vettel finishes ninth or lower (maximum two points), he is world champion.
If Hamilton does not finish in the top two in Austin, the title race will continue to Mexico regardless of where Vettel finishes.
While Hamilton is by no means guaranteed to be crowned champion at COTA, Mercedes does look set to wrap up its fourth straight constructors’ title with three races to spare.
Mercedes currently leads Ferrari by 145 points and needs a lead of 129 after Austin to clinch the title. Ferrari must therefore outscore it by 17 points just to keep the title race alive for another round.
Put simply, even if Ferrari were to score a one-two, Mercedes would secure the title by finishing third and fourth (43 – 27 = 16).