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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2017 United States Grand Prix – Preview

The 17th round of the 2017 Fédération Internationale de l’Automobile (FIA) Formula One World Championship takes place this weekend from the Circuit of the Americas, located about 22 kilometres away from the city-centre of Austin, the capital of the state of Texas, and we have two world championships that could well be decided this weekend.

Lewis Hamilton (306 points) leads the world drivers’ championship in his Mercedes by 59 points over Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel (247 points), while Hamilton’s teammate Valtteri Bottas (234 points) is third in the championship, 72 points behind Hamilton, and still has a mathematical chance of claiming his first world championship in 2017.

Hamilton extended his lead over Vettel from 34 points to 59 points after taking a magnificent victory at the Japanese Grand Prix in Suzuka after starting from pole position, thus having started from pole position on every circuit on the current Formula One calendar, and holding off Red Bull driver Max Verstappen in the closing laps to take his eighth win of the season, and his fifth win in the last seven races, including his fourth win in the last five races. In addition to this Hamilton has finished on the podium in six of the last seven races, including in the last five races, and is truly at the top of his game right now!

The same cannot be said for Ferrari, who have dropped their bundle in the last three races with the collisions and accidents in Singapore, which wiped out a two-car Ferrari team on the opening for the first time in history, and then reliability issues in both Malaysia and Japan with their power-units, allowing Ferrari to only score a combined 22 points during the last three races, and is seemingly going to cost Vettel the world championship, and it makes it more painful to consider that they had arguably a faster car than their rivals at all of those three events.

Meanwhile, Bottas has been consistent without being spectacular recently, but has finished inside the top five in the last 11 races, but has only finished on the podium twice in the last five races, the five races since the summer break, and you sense he will need to lift his game if he wants to secure second in the drivers’ championship.

So, for Hamilton to clinch his fourth world championship at the United States Grand Prix, one of these scenarios must happen:

  1. If Hamilton wins the race, Vettel must finish sixth or lower.
  2. If Hamilton finishes second, Vettel must finish ninth or lower, and Bottas must not win the race.

However, as I said before, that is not the only championship battle that could be decided this weekend at the Circuit of the Americas, with the World Constructors’ Championship up for grabs for Mercedes for the fourth-straight year.

Mercedes (540 points) lead over Ferrari (395 points) by 145 points with four races remaining, with reliability and the lack of a strong two-driver effort costing Ferrari any realistic hope of claiming their first constructors’ championship since 2008.

Mercedes, in the five races since the summer break, have out-scored Ferrari 183 to 77, a difference of 106 points, and in the last three races, Mercedes have out-scored Ferrari 105 to 22, a difference of 83 points. In fact, Red Bull (303 points), who sit in third in the constructors’ championship, but out of mathematical contention have also out-scored Ferrari in the last three races 91 to 22, a difference of 69 points, and are only 14 points behind Mercedes when you just consider the last three races, just showing how far Ferrari have fallen in terms of the reliability of their car.

So, for Mercedes to clinch their fourth-straight world championship at the United States Grand Prix:

  1. Ferrari must not out-score Mercedes by 17 points or more. If one of the Mercedes win the race, they are guaranteed to win the constructors’ championship. If both Mercedes finish inside the top four, they are guaranteed to win the constructors’ championship.

So, will Hamilton and/or Mercedes claim the world championships this weekend at the Circuit of the Americas.

Both Ferrari and Red Bull have the potential to challenge Mercedes here, and Mercedes, as far as their speed is concerned, don’t have as big a margin as they have had previously at this time of the season compared to 2014, 2015, and 2016.

However, Lewis Hamilton has been right at the top of his game in recent races, and if he continues in this vain of form, he will be very hard to beat at a place where he has only lost once.

Hamilton to win the United States Grand Prix to clinch Mercedes the constructors’ world championship, but the drivers’ world championship to continue onto Mexico.

 

The first two practice sessions (90 minutes each) are on Friday at 10am and 2pm local time (Saturday 2am and 6am AEDT).

The final practice session (60 minutes) and qualifying is on Saturday at 11am and 4pm local time (Sunday 3am and 8am AEDT).

The 56 lap race is on Sunday from 2pm local time (Monday 6am AEDT).