2018 United States Grand Prix – Preview

Lewis Hamilton has taken six of the last seven races, and now has the distinct opportunity to become only the third driver in history to become a five-time Formula One World Champion when Round 18 of the 2018 FIA Formula One World Championship takes place from the Circuit of the Americas in Austin, Texas for the 2018 United States Grand Prix.

Hamilton (331 points), who has won the United States Grand Prix six times, including five times at the Circuit of the Americas, including in each of the last four years, leads the championship for Mercedes by 67 points over Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel (264 points) after claiming his fourth win in a row at Suzuka, and with the big step-up in performance Mercedes has taken, particularly during the flyaway races, it is almost a fait accompli that Hamilton will take out his fifth world championship, if not in the United States, at the following race in Mexico.

Behind the top two in the championship, the battle, in terms of the points score, has really fizzled out in the battle for third, with Hamilton’s teammate Valtteri Bottas (207 points) starting to take a firm grip on third in the world championship ahead of Vettel’s teammate Kimi Räikkönen (196 points), who will be looking to finish his time with Ferrari on a high before joining Sauber-Ferrari in 2019.

Max Verstappen (173 points) is fifth in the championship for Red Bull Racing-TAG Heuer, and has a good chance of finishing third or fourth in 2018, ahead of his teammate Daniel Ricciardo (146 points), who seems destined to finish his final year with Red Bull, before linking up with Renault in 2019, in sixth position in the world championship despite three-straight points-scoring finishes.

And, behind the top six in the championship, we have five drivers separated by just four points battling to finish seventh, with Sergio Pérez (53 points), Kevin Magnussen (53 points), Nico Hülkenberg (53 points), Fernando Alonso (50 points), and Esteban Ocon (49 points) jostling between each other for the “best of the rest” title.

Looking at the Constructors’ Championship, Mercedes (538 points) have a stranglehold on the world championship, leading by 78 points over Ferrari (460 points), and could take their fifth-straight Constructors’ Championship at the next round in Mexico.

Red Bull Racing-TAG Heuer (319 points) are guaranteed to finish third at worst, should they, as expected, not be able to catch Ferrari, while the battle behind only continues to heat up, with Haas-Ferrari closing in on Renault for fourth, McLaren-Renault coming under increasing pressure from Force India-Mercedes for sixth, while Sauber-Ferrari are still in touching distance of Scuderia Toro Rosso-Honda for eighth, while Williams-Mercedes are destined to finish 2018 in 10th.

Looking at the championship permutations, Lewis Hamilton must finish inside the top six at the 2018 United States Grand Prix, and ahead of Sebastian Vettel if he is to become a five-time world champion this weekend. Hamilton will become a five-time world champion at the Circuit of the Americas if:

  1. If Hamilton wins, Vettel must finish in 3rd or lower.
  2. If Hamilton finishes in 2nd, Vettel must finish in 5th or lower.
  3. If Hamilton finishes in 3rd, Vettel must finish in 7th or lower.
  4. If Hamilton finishes in 4th, Vettel must finish in 8th or lower.
  5. If Hamilton finishes in 5th, Vettel must finish in 9th or lower.
  6. If Hamilton finishes in 6th,  Vettel must finish outside of the points-scoring positions (11th or lower).

So, who will win the 2018 United States Grand Prix?

Unless Ferrari magically find some mind-blowing speed, Mercedes are most certainly the team to beat, and given what we saw in Russia and Japan, it would not be surprising if Mercedes finish first and second in Austin, and if that is the case, as long as Hamilton wins the United States Grand Prix for the seventh time, and at the Circuit of the Americas for the sixth time, he will claim his fifth world championship, and join Juan Manuel Fangio in equal-second for the most Formula One World Championships.

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2018 Italian GP – Preview

Sebastian Vettel capped off a dominant weekend for Ferrari with his third Belgian Grand Prix victory, which was the 52nd of his career, surpassing fellow four-time world champion Alain Prost into outright third for most wins in Formula One, and is just behind his current championship rival Lewis Hamilton (67 wins) and seven-time world champion Michael Schumacher (91 wins) in the record books, and now heads to Monza with all the momentum in the 2018 FIA Formula One World Championship as he continues to battle with Hamilton in the quest to join Juan Manuel Fangio with five world championships.

However, Hamilton (231 points) still leads the championship over Vettel (214 points), but the lead of the Mercedes driver has been cut to 17 points, with the Italian Grand Prix shaping up as a must win for Hamilton and Mercedes as he looks to win at Monza for the fifth time, and equal Schumacher’s record for most victories at the Italian Grand Prix. Of course last year, Hamilton surpassed his record of most pole positions in Formula One in what was one of the all-time great laps in the wet, almost 1.2 seconds quicker than Max Verstappen, who along with his teammate grid Daniel Ricciardo had grid penalties for power-unit and gearbox changes last year.

Meanwhile, Vettel will be looking to end the domination of Mercedes at arguably the most power-dominated circuit in Formula One, and take Ferrari back to the top step of the podium at Monza for the first time since Fernando Alonso won for the Prancing Horse in 2010, and take his third Italian Grand Prix in the process after winning in 2011 and 2013.

Behind the two drivers who are often regarded as the best of the current era, we have close battle between four drivers for third in the world championship between Vettel’s teammate and 2007 world champion Kimi Räikkönen (146 points), Hamilton’s teammate Valtteri Bottas (144 points), and the two Red Bull Racing-TAG Heuer drivers in Verstappen (120 points), who has overtaken his teammate Ricciardo (118 points) into fifth in the championship.

However, you would expect both of the Red Bull Racing-TAG Heuer drivers to struggle at the low downforce, power-dominated circuit, which doesn’t suit their rebadged power-unit.

The back end of the top 10 in the championship is completed by Renault’s Nico Hülkenberg (52 points), Haas-Ferrari’s Kevin Magnussen (49 points), McLaren-Renault’s Fernando Alonso (44 points), and Force India-Mercedes driver in Sergio Pérez (40 points).

Looking at the Constructors’ Championship, Mercedes (375 points) extended their lead to 15 points over Ferrari (360 points) despite not winning the Belgian Grand Prix, with Red Bull Racing-TAG Heuer (238 points) in a comfortable third.

Behind them, Renault (82 points) lead the battle for fourth, ahead of Haas-Ferrari (76 points), with McLaren-Renault (52 points) in a lonely sixth, with Scuderia Toro Rosso-Honda (30 points) and Sauber-Ferrari (19 points) following, with Force India-Mercedes (18 points), who were stripped of their former points tally due to technically being a new entrant after their change of management, climbing up to ninth, and are ahead of Williams-Mercedes (four points), who will be hoping the Italian Grand Prix will be their chance to score some more points in what has been an annus horribilis in 2018.

So, who will win the Italian Grand Prix?

As strange as it might sound, given Mercedes dominance at Monza over the last four years, it is a circuit and a race that should actual suit Ferrari better, and that is a danger sign for Mercedes given their poor speed since 2014 (relative of course) at the Singapore Grand Prix, and while a number of circuits after the next two should suit Mercedes, you sense this is Ferrari’s chance to take a stranglehold of the world championship, and for Sebastian Vettel to move one step closer to a fifth world championship.