By Neil Leverett
- Round 18 of the Formula One calendar rolls into the Americas and Austin, Texas, for the United States Grand Prix this weekend
- Britain’s Lewis Hamilton can clinch an historic fifth world title if he finishes eight points ahead of rival Sebastian Vettel
- Hamilton eyes earlier World Championship crowning after winning in Mexico 12 months ago
AUSTIN, TEXAS – Lewis Hamilton is eyeing a place on not only the podium but in history this weekend, at the US Grand Prix in Austin, Texas.
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Hamilton eyes place in history in Austin
After what has become something of a literal and metaphorical procession in the Formula Drivers’ Championship in recent weeks, Lewis Hamilton this weekend has the opportunity to secure his fifth world title at the first opportunity at the United States GP in Austin, Texas.
During a season that had initially promised to be more than a two-horse race, even the closest to the Briton has now fallen by the wayside in Sebastian Vettel – with the German also vying for his fifth championship – after Ferrari have encountered nothing short of disastrous form since the resumption after the mid-summer break.
Following Hamilton’s ninth win of the season and fourth win in a row, coupled with Mercedes’ second 1-2 finish in succession, the 33-year-old from Stevenage holds a now surely unassailable 67-point advantage over Vettel.
This weekend for the second campaign running no less, Hamilton has the chance to guarantee another world crown in Texas. After the Briton won for the fourth-straight year running, but with Vettel finishing second last year however, Hamilton was forced to wait until Mexico a week later to begin the celebrations in earnest. So will Austin be the party capital for Mercedes and Hamilton this time around?
‘Great achievement’ for Briton
With Hamilton on the brink of history this weekend at the Circuit of the Americas, the inevitable fifth world title would put him in an elite band of drivers who have won five Drivers’ championships.
Only Michael Schumacher, Alain Prost, Juan Manuel Fangio and Ayrton Senna have achieved the feat in F1 history, and Fernando Alonso believes his former team-mate is now in the world’s top five drivers in the history of the sport.
The Spaniard told BBC Sport:
“It is difficult to compare different times and different ways to win those championships. Lewis probably winning five now, same as Fangio, it is a great achievement, and if one had to do it in our generation, I am happy it is him. He showed the talent and commitment. When the car was dominating he won and when it wasn’t he still put in performances to show his talent. That is difficult to see these days.”
“He showed the talent from day one and fighting for the championship in his rookie year, winning in 2008. I am happy for him because he showed the talent from day one, he was able to win races when the car was able to win it, but also able to win when the car was not on top of the form, he still won some races, it is impressive.”
Does the US Grand Prix have any surprises left?
With the title battle seemingly all but wrapped up, does the US Grand Prix have any surprises left to throw up? In its’ 48th running in America, Austin plays host for the seventh time around the 56-lap, 3.246 mile Texan tarmac of the Circuit of the Americas, 12 miles south of the American capital.
Whilst Britney Spears and Bruno Mars provide the entertainment off the track, who can spice affairs up on it? Will it be Sergio Perez who confirmed he will continue with Force India next season and who has recorded points finishes in seven of his last nine races.
As documented, Ferrari have endured one of their worst runs in recent history, but as the famous Italian red horse swallows that particular pill, they do so in the knowledge their downfall this season has been largely their own doing. Do Ferrari have any fight left with four races to go?
Or could sparks fly between Charles Leclerc and Kevin Magnussen? Sauber driver Leclerc was barbed with his words for his counterpart Haas driver, after the two made contact at turn 1 in Suzuka a fortnight ago – which saw the initial retirement of the Dane and then the Monegasque himself thirty laps later. This rivalry appears to be simmering under but could it explode in Texas this weekend?
The 2018 US Grand Prix takes place this weekend at the Circuit of the Americas in Austin, Texas, with the race proper at 7.10pm BST.
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