Will Hamilton clinch his fifth title? Five US GP talking points

2018 United States Grand Prix

Posted on

| Written by

The championship which for so long looked like it would go down to the final race could be wrapped up with three rounds to spare on Sunday.

Will Lewis Hamilton clinch the crown at the Circuit of the Americas? Here’s five talking points for this weekend’s race.

Will Hamilton clinch his fifth title?

It increasingly looks like a matter of ‘when’, not ‘if’, Hamilton will be crowned champion. For Sebastian Vettel to get back in the fight at this stage would take a major change of luck.

It wouldn’t be completely unprecedented. Think back to 2000, when points leader Michael Schumacher retired in first-lap crashes in consecutive races in Austria and Germany. Title rival Mika Hakkinen would have taken full advantage had a track invader bent on scuppering Mercedes not intervened at the Hockenheimring.

But everything points to Hamilton putting a lock on his fifth world championship this Sunday or next. Mercedes are riding high, and if he leads a third straight one-two for the team this weekend it will be job done.

His record at the Circuit of the Americas is daunting as well – he’s won five of the six races held at this track.

Another change at Toro Rosso?

Neither Toro Rosso driver managed to convert their top 10 start into a points finish at Honda’s home race last time out. But Brendon Hartley’s slump from sixth on the grid to 13th at the line was exactly what his 2019 career prospects did not need.

While the Toro Rosso management stressed in Japan it was still within Hartley’s power to guarantee his place at the team next year, rumours grow about the second seat alongside Daniil Kvyat next season. Alexander Albon, who had signed a deal to race for Nissan in Formula E, was conspicuously absent from their test team this week amid rumours a shock deal is in the works.

Advert | Become a RaceFans supporter and go ad-free

Haas’s fight for fourth

Kevin Magnussen, Haas, Sochi Autodrom, 2018
Haas is in a tight fight with Renault
F1’s sole American team are enjoying undoubtedly their most competitive season so far. But despite being regular contenders for ‘best of the rest’ honours, they are at risk of missing out on fourth in the championship.

Indeed had it not been for Force India’s mid-season points reset, Haas would be sixth behind them and Renault along with the ‘big three’. As it is they are eight points off Renault, and though they could wipe out that lead if their Italian Grand Prix appeal is upheld, that doesn’t seem likely.

A strong result at home could put it beyond doubt. The VF-18 has been great in quick corners this year and they should have the upper hand over Renault this weekend. But rare have been the weekends where both Haas drivers have had trouble-free events.


As the now seven-year-old Circuit of the Americas continues to bed in, the race organisers have faced increasing problems with bumps developing on its surface. The long, flat-out stretch from turn 11 to turn 12 has been a particular problem.

During their race weekend earlier this year Moto GP riders complained again about the bumps, which they claim have been exacerbated by the huge downforce levels F1 cars produce.

Miami confusion

F1’s plans to run a race in Miami next year had to be shelved but they’re still eyeing an event in 2020. While the grand prix weekend kicks off in Texas, F1 will hold a fan festival event in Miami which it hopes will inspire support for a street race at the circuit in 2020. Will F1’s second US race ever get off the ground?

Meanwhile back in Austin the pre-race razzmatazz which divided opinion last year has been quietly, and perhaps not surprisingly, dropped.

Advert | Become a RaceFans supporter and go ad-free

2018 so far

Over to you

Who do you think will be the team to beat in the United States Grand Prix? Have your say below.

And don’t forget to enter your predictions for this weekend’s race. You can edit your predictions until the start of qualifying:

2018 United States Grand Prix

Browse all 2018 United States Grand Prix articles

Author information

Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

Got a potential story, tip or enquiry? Find out more about RaceFans and contact us here.

14 comments on “Will Hamilton clinch his fifth title? Five US GP talking points”

  1. Seems like Singapore, Russian and Spanish Grands Prix just missed this list

    Kudos to the Canadian GP though.

  2. MotoGP does tend to take aim at F1 tracks, although often it’s the track being too slippy from the Pirellis which causes F1 to be in their crosshairs – downforce is a new one to me

  3. Andrew in Atlanta
    18th October 2018, 12:48

    Downforce is exactly what they have blamed at previous tracks especially the complaints regarding Silverstone. I haven’t heard anything tire related but consistently downforce(and related cornering speeds and braking) related damage to the track.

  4. Ricciardo certainly seems to have a huge majority of the votes when he is DOTW. I agree that he was in Monaco. But the driver of the WEEKEND in china surely should go to Bottas over Riccirdo. Ricciardo was outqualified by Verstappen. Had a very average start and 2 thirds of the race. Then Verstappen started messing up which allowed him ahead, not to his own merit. Then due to very lucky circumstances, a safety car was brought out and that allowed him to pit without loosing time and as Bottas couldn’t, he could easily get past him and the others. Basically, the last 3rd of the race looked impressive because he had a huge advantage over the rest. Not saying he didn’t maximise his result, but the level of driver of the weekend votes he got is probably the most excessive out of any this year IMO. Only a tiny fraction was impressive and won’t have been that difficult for most other drivers in his situation.

  5. Will Hamilton clinch his fifth title? – Yes.
    Another change at Toro Rosso? – Yes, but for next season, of course.
    Will F1’s second US race ever get off the ground? – Let’s wait and see although I wouldn’t be surprised at all if it were to end up the same way as the NJ GP project.
    Who do you think will be the team to beat in the United States Grand Prix? – Mercedes.
    I quite liked the pre-race razzmatazz from last season so that I wouldn’t have minded had it been continued for this specific GP.
    BTW, COTA is six years old, not seven. Next year it’ll be seven.

    1. Yeah, it’s the seventh running but the track is six years old, as it was a newborn when we had the first GP.

  6. @keithcollantine I hope Hamilton wins it. ”Off topic” – According to Luigi Perna, a highly respected correspondent of La Gazzetta dello Sport that at Ferrari there are less and less people that support Vettel and Vettel increasingly becomes more isolated and that’s because Vettel has very little to no chance to win the WDC despite Ferrari gave him a very good car this year. In addition, Perna suggests that if Vettel does not take the title in 2019 even though Ferrari has a car, termination clauses in his contract could ensure that the German will no longer drive Ferrari in 2020.

    1. Or they could simply promote Leclerc to number one and offer Vettel the Raikkonen job.

    2. Mmm, I’d be sorry for vettel if that happens cause he would really like to bring the title back to ferrari, essentially emulating schumacher, whom he holds in high regard, however it’s a palmer case (less bad ofc), good guy but apparently not good enough for the job, IF the 2018 situation repeats itself in 2019 ofc, a year off can happen, but he already had 2014.

      Would find it odd if he accepted a number 2 driver as well, try telling that to hamilton, alonso, verstappen etc.

      1. number 2 driver role ofc

  7. Ferrari wont win until they sign Hamilton, he is the master now and they know it!!

  8. rate the race has been very polarised this year – according to us the races have either been poor (4 is a very low score, I think) or great (8 plus is amazing, historically).

    1. Rate the race doesn’t work at all since people rate bad races at 5, which is the definition of an average race and vote average races at 7-8.

  9. Thank god the razzmatazz has gone – the worst thing I ever saw in F1…!

Comments are closed.