Two World Championships could be decided this weekend
Following his win in Japan, Lewis Hamilton has his first chance of clinching his fourth drivers’ championship ahead of Sebastian Vettel and Valtteri Bottas, while Mercedes are strong favourites to wrap up their fourth constructors’ crown in succession.
Here’s the maths for both those two historic events can happen…
Hamilton needs to outscore Vettel by 16 points AND Bottas by three points in Austin to take the 2017 title with three races to spare.
If Hamilton wins, he is world champion if Vettel finishes sixth or lower
If Hamilton finishes second, he is world champion if Vettel finishes ninth or lower and Bottas fails to win
If Hamilton finishes third, the title race goes on to Mexico
Holding a 145-point lead over Ferrari, Mercedes will win the Constructors’ Championship for the fourth year in succession if they finish the Austin weekend holding a lead of at least 129 points.
That means Ferrari must outscore Mercedes by at least 17 points to keep in mathematical contention until Mexico.
Mercedes are certain to clinch the Constructors’ Championship if they win the race
Just six weeks ago, Vettel was leading the championship – as he had done all season – having pressured Hamilton all the way at the Belgian Grand Prix on a track on which Mercedes were expected to dominate.
The expectation then was that the title fight would go to the last race, the momentum swinging back and forth all the while, the result impossible to predict.
But following Hamilton’s dominant victory in Italy, Ferrari’s season has imploded in three races in Asia in the past four weeks in quite astonishing fashion.
Hamilton now has four victories in the last five races as his consistency has contrasted with Ferrari unreliability.
Assuming Ferrari can get a handle on their reliability problems, they can be expected to be competitive at the next race this weekend, the United States Grand Prix. In which case, it is hard to see Hamilton gaining the 16 points over Vettel he needs to clinch the title there.
That is not to say that Hamilton shouldn’t be favourite, he clearly should be but at odds on best prices of 5/6 the value of odds against seen in some recent races is now priced in. My idea of a bet this weekend is the 6/4 Skybet offer about Max Verstappen finishing in the top three. The RedBull is now close or at the pace of the Ferrari and Verstappen is on form