Red Bull close on constructors’ crown

Following Max Verstappen’s crowning glory as a two-time world champion at Suzuka, attention now turns to the constructors’ title. 

Red Bull head to the Circuit of the Americas on the verge of wrapping up their first constructors’ championship since 2013. 

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Ferrari are 165 points behind in the championship standings and unless they outscore their rivals by 19 points, Red Bull will be celebrating their fifth constructors’ world title at Austin. 

Perhaps Ferrari will be more focused on retaining second place, with Mercedes just 67 points adrift in third. 

Behind the big three, an intense battle is raging over fourth place, which is currently being held by Alpine, who are 13 points clear of nearest rivals McLaren. 

Things are also hotting up further down the order in the fight for sixth, with just 18 points separating Alfa Romeo, Aston Martin, Haas and AlphaTauri in ninth. 

With a maximum of 191 points still on offer across the final four rounds, the constructors’ championship is far from over. 

Who will take P2 in the drivers’ standings? 

As Verstappen secured his second consecutive world title in Japan, second place for Red Bull teammate Sergio Perez moved him ahead of Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc in the championship by a single point. 

Although runner-up spot is not a position drivers desire at the start of the year, both Perez and Leclerc will be determined to end the season as strongly as possible. 

That is certainly the aim of Red Bull team principal Christian Horner, who said: “Focus quickly turns to the constructors’ side of the tables and Checo securing that second place in the championship.

“With Checo finishing second, fantastic for him and his championship. For the constructors’, it’s big points as well, so we’re absolutely delighted with the outcome.” 

George Russell and Carlos Sainz cannot be ruled out of the battle for second, with the Mercedes and Ferrari drivers sitting 46 and 51 points back respectively, but it would take something special to usurp both Leclerc and Perez at this stage. 

Lewis Hamilton is a further 27 points adrift of his Mercedes teammate in sixth but has outscored Russell in the last two races. Can the seven-time world champion overcome his deficit to avoid a rare intra-team defeat by the end of the year? 

Verstappen’s hunt for F1 records

Verstappen will be determined not to suffer an F1 title hangover as he enters uncharted territory having clinched the 2022 world championship with four races to spare. 

Given Verstappen’s nature, it is unlikely we will see the Dutchman backing off now that he has sealed the deal, but he also has some added motivation to stay at the top of his game. 

Verstappen is only one win away from equalling Michael Schumacher and Sebastian Vettel’s record tally of 13 victories in a single season. Considering Red Bull’s recent superiority and Verstappen’s imperious form, there is every reason to believe he could set a new benchmark. 

The 25-year-old also has the opportunity to break Hamilton’s record of most points in a single campaign. Verstappen already has 365 points on the board, leaving him 54 shy with 191 still on the table. 

Verstappen could also end the season with the largest championship-winning margin. He currently holds a 113-point lead, with the overall record held by Vettel, who finished 155 points clear of Fernando Alonso in 2013. 

And one Hamilton could lose...

Meanwhile, Hamilton’s record as the only driver to have won at least one grand prix every season he has contested is also on the line. 

The Briton has now gone 20 races since his last victory - the longest winless drought of his career - and Mercedes’ victory prospects appear to be dwindling as each weekend passes by. 

Hamilton has more poles (three) and more wins (five) than any other driver at COTA, so might his fortunes finally change at a track Mercedes have reigned supreme?