A new contract for Fernando Alonso, and Lewis Hamilton’s questions over ‘taking a knee’ have led the headlines ahead of the United States Grand Prix. The real racing news, though, is that Hamilton can clinch another world title this weekend.
Sebastian Vettel has – as one would expect – been resilient to any one even flirting with the idea of the championship being in Hamilton’s lap. Vettel eloquently explained his feelings in saying that he needed to, ‘make the fat lady shut up for a while’.
The German is at 9/4 to win the race, which could fling the championship race wide open if Hamilton encounters mechanical issues.
Hamilton’s crusade towards the title has seen him dominate in recent races. Jenson Button has gone as far to suggest that the Brit could emulate Michael Schumacher’s record by winning seven world championships. The Mercedes man certainly has the talent and, even with Vettel’s speed this year, he has proven it again.
There have been few drivers with the skill of Hamilton. When combined with a team functioning as fantastically as Mercedes have done in the last few years, he becomes almost unstoppable.
So much of this is based on his frankly remarkable qualifying record. Hamilton thrives under the pressure. He has more poles than anyone else, and is priced at 4/7 to get his 72nd this Saturday.
Though it is not yet in his hands, Hamilton will need curse-level misfortune to fall short of the championship. We may well miss out on the dramatic season climax that we briefly looked set up for, but Hamilton has had to wrestle against an early deficit to reach this position. A testament to not only his ability, but his engrained competitiveness.
Away from the two jostling for the title, the Red Bulls have enjoyed a late season upturn. Max Verstappen and Daniel Ricciardo have both made the podium in the last two races.
Verstappen has suffered some torrid fortune this year, but we have been treated to some brilliant driving from the youngster recently. His 6/5 price to make the podium is one of the best bets from this weekend’s market.
Vettel is not going to let Hamilton walk towards the title. It’s easy to write this season off with Hamilton’s lead, but drama is all the more likely with so much on the line for the Ferrari man. We have seen some tense, fascinating bouts between the two over the years, including a fair few this season.
We can at least hope that the experienced duo get involved in laps of wheel-to-wheel racing again...
As the season draws to a close, each race is a moment to savour for Formula One fans. The title is as good as over, but drivers are still fighting for contracts for the 2018 season. Results, lap times and mistakes can still be significant for teams’ funding and the careers of many involved in the sport.
Red Bull are the team to watch in the final weeks of 2017. A return to championship contention in 2018 is certainly possible if their recent results are anything to go by.
*Odds subject to change - correct at time of writing*