F1: Looking ahead to the United States Grand Prix
Lewis Hamilton is on the cusp of winning his 5th World Title after a flawless drive at Suzuka saw the Brit extend his Championship lead over nearest rival Sebastian Vettel to 67 points with only four races remaining. For the first time this season, Hamilton has a mathematical chance of clinching the title in Texas.
Vettel will be ruing his mistakes over the course of the season which have cost him valuable points. The over-aggressive chances that the German has undertaken have ultimately backfired against him and it was a case of miscalculation which cost him dearly at Suzuka yet again this past weekend.
He attempted a daring overtake on Max Verstappen's Red Bull and it failed to yield any dividends, instead seeing the pair crash and him miss out on a top-three finish. He was forced to fight his way back up the grid, only to finish in a disappointing sixth, further putting a dampener on any remaining Championship hopes.
You could argue that Ferrari have had the better car over the course of this season so far, but Hamilton and Mercedes in particular have been more operationally efficient in comparison. The Austin Circuit of Americas is one of Hamilton's favourite tracks, having tasted success on five of the last six Grand Prix held there. He'd be looking to emulate his feat of 2015 when he sealed his Championship there, having fended off team-mate Nico Rosberg.
Considering that Lewis is yet to finish outside the podium places so far this season, it appears a mountain too high for Vettel to climb. He can mathematically seal the Driver's Championship at Austin if he establishes a minimum lead of 75 points - sufficient with only three races to go after this latest one.
Title permutations for Lewis and a chasing Vettel
So, should Hamilton win and Vettel finishes in third or lower, he will be crowned champion. The task becomes even more complicated from the German's perspective, as he has to fulfill one of the following conditions to remain in the title race:
1. If Hamilton finishes second, Vettel has to finish at least fourth.
2. If Hamilton finishes third, Vettel can finish no lower than sixth.
3. If Hamilton finishes fourth, Vettel must finish seventh or above.
4. If Hamilton finishes seventh or lower, irrespective of Vettel's final position, the Championship cannot be sealed.
However, all of the aforementioned scenarios are looking unlikely to say the least as Hamilton will be keen to record his seventh win from the last eight races and match Juan Manuel Fangio's tally of 5 Drivers' Championships next weekend.