Lewis Hamilton is on the verge of becoming just the second driver in Formula 1 history to win six world championships, which he can seal at the United States Grand Prix.

The Briton holds a 74-point lead over Mercedes teammate Valtteri Bottas and will clinch his sixth drivers’ title at the Circuit of the Americas on Sunday if he scores four points - or ensures he does not drop more than 22 points to the Finn.

A brilliant victory last time out in Mexico has put Hamilton in pole position to wrap up this year’s world championship with two races to spare. Title success in the US would mark the second time in his career that Hamilton has won the title in Texas, adding to his 2015 triumph.

Hamilton has an enviable record at COTA, having won all but two of the seven races at the Austin venue since it joined the F1 calendar back in 2012. Hamilton also has the most wins in the US than any other driver with six in total, including his 2007 victory when the race was held in Indianapolis.

Should Hamilton successfully claim his third consecutive title, he would move into a clear second place in the history books, just one world championship shy of Michael Schumacher’s all-time record tally of seven.

Can Ferrari win again at COTA?

Ferrari’s resurgence since the summer break has somewhat been stalled over the past three races, but the Italian squad could be well-positioned to get back to winning ways in the US.

After winning three races in a row, Ferrari has not taken victory since the Singapore Grand Prix, though it has boasted a superior car in qualifying compared to its rivals. Max Verstappen looked to have ended Ferrari’s streak of pole positions in Mexico but was slapped with a penalty for failing to slow for yellow flags, meaning Charles Leclerc inherited the team’s sixth successive pole.

Rivals Mercedes and Red Bull have branded Ferrari’s one-lap pace on a Saturday as “almost unbeatable”, though it has squandered chances to win at the last three races in Mexico, Japan and Russia.

The latest missed opportunity came last weekend as a bold strategy gamble by Mercedes swung the race in Hamilton’s favour, and his masterclass in tyre management proved key to defeating a charging Sebastian Vettel by just 1.7s at the flag.

Ferrari won last year’s race at COTA with a memorable display from Kimi Raikkonen, who overtook Hamilton at the start and controlled the race to end a seven-year (and 113-race) wait for victory. The Maranello outfit will be hoping for a repeat performance this weekend to record its fourth win of the year.

“We have started the last six races from pole position but have only gone on to win three of them and we certainly want to do better than that," Ferrari team principal Mattia Binotto said. 

"We are encouraged by the fact that we now have a package that allows us to fight for wins on most tracks. It’s a significant improvement on how we started the year and credit must go to all the people in Maranello and at the track, who have worked so hard to fight back from where we started.

"We need to use the last three races of this season to further develop as a group and to operate in the sharpest possible manner in order to be better prepared for next year. It is a very tight field at the front and every detail matters if we want to win more often. Austin will hopefully give us a good opportunity to do so."

Red Bull will also be determined to hit back in Texas after a frustrating weekend in Mexico City, having felt it had a car more than capable of winning at the Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez.

Crunch day for F1’s future

F1 faces a crucial day for the future of the sport with the deadline for the new technical and sporting regulations set to be voted on by teams on Thursday (October 31).

Having postponed June’s initial deadline, F1 officials will take part in a vote later today to officially formalise the planned regulation overhaul for 2021.

Concerns remain from some teams over F1’s plans to improve the spectacle by introducing a new car and set of technical and sporting rules, including a cost cap and fairer disruption of prize funds in a bid to help level the playing field and create greater competition among teams.

But F1 is confident the proposals will get pushed through after providing teams with a draft of the new Concorde Agreement from post-2020.

F1 CEO Chase Carey said Liberty Media is feeling good about its proposal during an investor call on Wednesday, ahead of Thursday’s crunch vote, adding the process is at an “advanced stage”.

Further news is expected on Thursday, with F1 teasing the vision of the 2021 car on social media.

 

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