Formula One Titles Could Be Decided at United States Grand Prix

Richard Prew

Friday, October 20, 2017 3:10 PM UTC

Friday, Oct. 20, 2017 3:10 PM UTC

Just four races remaining in the 2017 Formula One schedule as the circuit makes its only visit to America for Sunday's United States Grand Prix at the Circuit of Americas outside Austin. 

Two Formula One world championships could be decided Sunday at the United States Grand Prix outside Austin, Texas.

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 math for how both events can happen Sunday:

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.

That means:

  • 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 the next race in Mexico City

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 the next F1 race in 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.

However, 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 as a combination of car unreliability and a first-lap accident in Singapore led to a series of non-finishes.

Hamilton now has four victories in the last five races as his consistency has contrasted with Ferrari’s unreliability. Assuming Ferrari can get a handle on their reliability problems, they can be expected to be competitive at 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 in this race.

That is not to say that Hamilton shouldn’t be favoured in Austin; he clearly should be given the speed and reliability of the Mercedes package and the characteristics of the circuit, which makes it difficult for the underpowered cars to be competitive. Hamilton winning the race is currently at a best price of 5/6. My idea of a better value bet this weekend is the 6/4 SkyBook offer of Max Verstappen finishing in the top three. The Red Bull taem are now close or at the pace of the Ferrari and Verstappen is on form.

Earlier in the year Verstappen suffered hugely with unreliability. At one time he retired four times in six races, and overall since as far back as the third race of the season in Bahrain has seven retirements in 12, but his luck has turned and form has followed. He won in Malaysia and chased Hamilton all the way in the last race in Suzuka to finish second.

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