Seventh F1 championship for Lewis Hamilton in sight Sunday at Turkish Grand Prix

Lewis Hamilton seventh championship
Antonin Vincent - Pool/Getty Images
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Having already broken the record for Formula One race wins, Lewis Hamilton can equal the mark for championship titles this weekend at the Turkish Grand Prix.

Hamilton needs to finish only ahead of Mercedes teammate Valtteri Bottas to secure his seventh F1 title, equaling Michael Schumacher’s record.

“It was far beyond my wildest dreams thinking that we’d get to seven,” said Hamilton, who won his first world title with McLaren in 2008 but only added his second in 2014 after leaving to join Mercedes. “Getting one world championship was great and then it was very tough obviously to get the second.”

Hamilton has dominated the sport since that move to Mercedes and this season the British driver broke Schumacher’s record of 92 race wins. After leading Mercedes to the constructors championship with a Nov. 1 victory at Imola, Italy, he is looking for his 94th on Sunday and enters the race with an 85-point lead over Bottas in the championship standings.

The Finnish driver needs to score eight points more than Hamilton in Istanbul to keep his challenge alive. Hamilton could even clinch the title in some scenarios even if he finishes behind his teammate, for instance if Bottas is third (15 points) and Hamilton places sixth (eight points) or better. If both fail to finish Sunday’s race the title will be Hamilton’s, with only 78 points available in the three races to follow.

Regardless of whether he clinches this weekend, a seventh title seems inevitable for Hamilton, who has nine victories from 13 races this season, including the past three GPs.

The only doubt surrounding him these days is whether he will sign a new contract with Mercedes, or if he’ll quit F1 at the age of 35 and pursue other interests like fashion and music.

“Believe it or not, I haven’t got it set in stone. I haven’t got all the answers to what I want to do yet,” Hamilton said. “I believe I have the best contract that there is, in terms of how it’s structured and time management. … (But) there’s a lot to discuss and a lot to go through.”

Hamilton, who says he wants to help further Mercedes’ drive on environmental and racial diversity issues, suggested discussions will take place at the end of the year. The season ends with the Abu Dhabi GP on Dec. 13.

“At the moment I don’t feel like I’ve finished,” Hamilton said. “There’s always areas to improve. I love racing, I love the challenge.”

When the first Turkish GP was held in 2005 it was won by a 25-year-old Kimi Raikkonen. He is still driving at the age of 41 and has shown of his old flair in recent races with the Alfa Romeo team.

The last time F1 visited the 5.3-kilometer (3.3-mile) Intercity Istanbul Park circuit was in 2011 when world champion Sebastian Vettel won from pole position driving for Red Bull.

Vettel’s star has fallen and the four-time F1 champion has not even finished in the top five places for struggling Ferrari this season. In fact, sixth and seventh are the best performances in a dismal year for the driver once tipped to topple his idol Schumacher.

But he has not given up on turning his fortunes around next year, when he will join Aston Martin.

“In the bigger picture I’m still swimming, I’m happy to keep swimming despite the tide facing the opposite way,” Vettel said. “I’m pretty sure that there’s something left for me and I’m looking forward to that.”

Starting lineup grid for IMSA Petit Le Mans: Tom Blomqvist puts MSR on pole position

Petit Le Mans lineup
IMSA
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IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar championship contender Tom Blomqvist put the Meyer Shank Racing Acura at the front of the starting lineup for the Motul Petit Le Mans at Michelin Road Atlanta.

Blomqvist turned a 1-minute, 8.55-second lap on the 2.54-mile circuit Friday to capture his third pole position for MSR this season. Earl Bamber qualified second in the No. 02 Cadillac for Chip Ganassi Racing.

Ricky Taylor was third in the No. 10 Acura of Wayne Taylor Racing, which enters Saturday’s season finale with a 19-point lead over the No. 60 of Blomqvist and Oliver Jarvis (who will be joined by Helio Castroneves) for the 10-hour race.

PETIT LE MANS STARTING GRID: Click here for the starting lineup l Lineup by car number

PETIT LE MANS: Info on how to watch

With the pole, MSR sliced the deficit to 14 points behind WTR, which will field the trio of Taylor, Filipe Albuquerque and Brendon Hartley in Saturday’s race.

“We really needed to put the car in this kind of position,” Blomqvist said. “It makes our life a little less stressful tomorrow. It would have given the No. 10 a bit more breathing space. It’s going to be a proper dogfight tomorrow. The guys gave me such a great car. It’s been fantastic this week so far, and it really came alive. I’m hugely thankful to the boys and girls at MSR for giving me the wagon today to execute my job.

“That was a big effort from me. I knew how important it was. It’s just awesome for the guys to give them some sort of reward as well. It’s always nice to be quick. If you do the pole, you know you’ve got a quick car.”

Though WTR has a series-leading four victories with the No. 10, MSR won the Rolex 24 at Daytona and has five runner-up finishes along with its three poles.

The strong performances of the ARX-05s ensure that an Acura will win the final championship in IMSA’s premier Daytona Prototype international (DPi) division, which is being rebranded as Grand Touring Prototype in the move to LMDh cars next season.

Taylor qualified third despite sliding into the Turn 5 gravel during the closing minutes of qualifying while pushing to gain points.

“Qualifying was important for points,” Taylor said. “Going into it, if we outqualified the No. 60 Meyer Shank Acura, they had a lot to lose in terms of championship points. So, we were trying to increase the gap over 20 points which would’ve made a big difference for tomorrow. We would have loved to get the pole and qualify ahead of the No. 60, but in the scheme of the points, it didn’t change a whole lot. I’m feeling good since it’s such a long race, and the No. 10 Konica Minolta Acura team does such a good job strategizing and putting us in a good position.

“I’m very confident in our lineup and our team compared to them over the course of 10 hours. I’d put my two teammates up against those guys any day. I think we are all feeling optimistic and strong for tomorrow.”

In other divisions, PR1 Mathiasen Motorsports (LMP2), Riley Motorsports (LMP3), VasserSullivan (GTD Pro) and Paul Miller Racing (GTD) captured pole positions.

The broadcast of the 10-hour race will begin Saturday at 12:10-3 p.m. ET on NBC, moving at 7 p.m. to USA Network. Peacock will have flag-to-flag coverage.


QUALIFYING

Results

Results by class

Fastest lap by driver

Fastest lap by driver after qualifying

Fastest lap by driver and class after qualifying

Fastest lap sequence in qualifying

Best sector times in qualifying

Time cards in qualifying

PRACTICE RESULTS: Session I l Session II l Session III