By Neil Leverett
- Round 17 of the Formula 1 campaign rolls into Austin, Texas this weekend
- Lewis Hamilton holds 59-point lead over Sebastian Vettel with four races left
- Briton can wrap up fourth World title with win, if German finishes sixth or lower
AUSTIN, TEXAS – With an almost unassailable lead in the world championship, will Lewis Hamilton edge closer to or even seal another world title, or can Ferrari spoil the party in Austin?
Can Hamilton win Drivers’ Championship with races to spare?
After the a three-legged Asian tour during the past three Formula 1 races, the circuit takes a trip across the Pacific to mid-Texas and to the Circuit of the Americas in Austin, for the United States Grand Prix this weekend.
Lewis Hamilton stands on the brink of history in the Lone Star State as not only the first Briton to win four Drivers’ Championships, but as only the fifth man in the history of the sport to win five world titles – Michael Schumacher reigning supreme with seven to his name.
Mathematically, Hamilton is unlikely to wrap things up this weekend, as only a win for the Brit coupled with a finish of sixth position of lower in Austin for Sebastian Vettel would result in an early coronation with still three races to run.
If and/or when the Briton should claim this year’s crown, the 32 year-old will equal that of his rival German who stands to watch on and wonder what may have been from this season, following the trail of – quite literally and metaphorically – a trail of destruction for Ferrari during the course of the last month.
German set for risk-it-all weekend in Austin
To paraphrase the famous words of poet Roberts Burns, ‘the best laid plans of mice and men go often askew’. Never has a truer sentence been uttered in reference to Ferrari’s technical nightmares in the Far East.
Before Asia, there was a very real prospect – indeed and expectation – that their number one man at the wheel Vettel would be carrying a handsome lead into the Americas’ GP triple.
The irony is there for all to see then, with the almost cavernous gap with which the former world champion must now attempt to close over the course of the next few days in Texas and beyond.
If the Japanese GP saw not only Vettel but the Italian red having to take measures extreme in nature, this weekend will likely both team and team member be forced to leave it all on the track. Knowing however, that their efforts may be forlorn.
Now retired, last season’s victor and compatriot Nico Rosberg however, is adamant Vettel will not give up the fight as he told BBC Sport:
“Ferrari always come back strong,” said Rosberg.
“It’s so difficult for Sebastian now. Lewis has such momentum, everything is going in his direction.
“Sebastian needs a miracle to come back but he’s a fighter and he won’t give up. It will remain interesting so let’s see how far he can take it.”
Will Red Bull continue late season form?
Red Bull’s season can best be described as checkered at best, however if Ferrari’s predicted success in Asia was a resounding failure, the former was not, in particular Max Verstappen.
Having just one podium finish under his belt all season up until Sepang in Malaysia, the Dutchman has now finished first and runner-up in successive races, with the Red Bull engine finally upping the reliability stakes that team principal Christian Horner would have sought earlier in the year.
Not only Verstappen but Daniel Ricciardo has backed up the efforts of the Milton Keynes-based outfit with a second and two third-placed results, staying on the podium for the duration for the Asian tour.
The switching of venues – not least continents – is always a period of transition for teams across the paddock as we have seen with the top two constructors, but should the title race be heading for its’ destined procession, the form of both Red Bull drivers are the only factors that could keep fans intrigued.
The United States Grand Prix takes place this weekend in Austin, Texas at the Circuit of the Americas with the race itself on Sunday night 10pm UK time.
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