Hamilton comes into this weekend’s Mexican Grand Prix knowing he only need finish fifth or higher to seal the 2017 Drivers’ Championship
As far as Lewis Hamilton is concerned, the 2017 Drivers’ Championship is virtually in the bag going into Monday’s race in Mexico City. And with a fourth successive constructors’ championship already secured for Mercedes. The Briton is currently 66 points clear of Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel, having dramatically extended his lead over the past few weeks with 5 wins in the last 6 races.
Hamilton completed a remarkable 22nd successive points finish when he won the US GP on Sunday. And given his lead, and the fact that there’s just 75 points remaining up for grabs in the season now, it’s a matter when and not if he’ll win his fourth title.
What's changed for Lewis Hamilton in 2017?
— Sky Sports F1 ? (@SkySportsF1) October 28, 2017
Indeed the Mercedes ace can seal it with a mere fifth-place finish at the Autódromo Hermanos Rodríguez. However that would be quite the dampener on celebrations compared to a champagne shower on the podium. And he said as much as he reflected on the season in the lead-up to Monday:
“Shoot. It’s getting close. That does sound good. I am going to work even harder to make sure next week we come out on top.”
“I could only have dreamed of this happening in the second half of the season. First half – constantly chasing, chasing. They generally had a bit of the upper hand.
“No-one can say one of us had the better car. There have been races where they have been quickest and races where we have been quickest and races where they have been quickest and they have not done a good enough job, like Singapore.”
“I am very proud to be amongst the great British drivers, it is such a dream. I can’t believe the time is now.”
— Formula 1 (@F1) October 25, 2017
Mercedes assert dominance with fourth consecutive constructors’ championship
With the change in rules this season, there was some doubt as to whether Mercedes could continue their reign. However, those doubts were swept aside as the season wore on, with the initial hiccups giving way to the usual near-irrepressible consistency from Hamilton.
Bottas enjoying his best season thus far in Formula 1 hasn’t hurt their chances either. And on instances it even looked like Bottas might be a serious contender for the title behind teammate Hamilton.
The team did quite well in the season, beginning with the car itself. Though the W08 proved tricky at times, it came through for them – particularly in the past couple of months. The German giants again displayed their remarkable ability to evolve rapidly to stay on top of their rivals. And with a fourth successive title, they can set their sights on demolishing Ferrari’s in the era of Schumacher.
“I really want to say a big congratulations to the team back at the factory,” said Hamilton after Sunday’s win.
F1 constructors' champions for the fourth year in a row
— Formula 1 (@F1) October 22, 2017
“Because it has been a big, big push to come into another era of car and be competitive with Ferrari, who have been right on it from the get-go and who for sure would have started earlier development with their car because we were fighting for the championship.”
Team boss Toto Wolff also weighed in:
“Our target was to win both championships and to be the first team to achieve it through a regulation change like this.
“Having achieved it here in Austin feels really unbelievable. It is the reward for so many people who have been hard-working. The thing is we have a really great dynamic in the team and we enjoy doing what we do and bringing it home.”
Will Ferrari ease up on Kimi?
With the championship virtually decided ahead of the race on Monday, it’s not out of the realm of possibility that Ferrari cut Kimi Raikkonen loose and let the Finn race free for the win. Raikkonen was in second during the final stages in the US, and though he had to yield to Vettel with the championship still in play then, the former world champion came away fastest on the day and with a third place finish.
MOST CONSECUTIVE #F1 POINTS FINISHES
27 K Raikkonen (2012-2013)
24 M Schumacher (2001-2003)
23 F Alonso (2011-2012)
22 L Hamilton (ongoing) pic.twitter.com/fJuqnyLtQP
— Formula 1 (@F1) October 23, 2017
Perhaps not from the get-go, but depending on how things progress in Mexico, we could just see the Scuderia ease up on the instructions at some point. With the Ice Man in the mix for the podium, things could get pretty interesting.