Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes, Nurburgring, 2020

How Hamilton can clinch a record-equalling seventh F1 title on Sunday

2020 Turkish Grand Prix

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Lewis Hamilton will almost certainly put a lock on a record-equalling seventh world drivers championship title at the Turkish Grand Prix this weekend.

The six-times champion heads into the 14th race of the year with a commanding, 85-point lead over team mate Valtteri Bottas, the only driver left who can stop him from taking the silverware. But at this stage it would take one of the greatest upsets in the history of the championship for Hamilton to be denied the crown.

If Hamilton’s lead when the chequered flag drops on Sunday is 78 points or more, he will take the title. Therefore the only way Bottas can be sure the championship isn’t settled on Sunday is by winning the race and scoring the bonus point for fastest lap. He’s only done that once this year, in the Russian Grand Prix.

As Hamilton holds the whip hand, he is guaranteed to win the title on Sunday if he finishes ahead of Bottas or if his team mate retires from the race.

If Hamilton retires or fails to finish in a points-scoring position (both of which would also mean he cannot score the bonus point for fastest lap), Bottas still needs to bag a decent haul of points to keep his championship hopes alive. Nothing less than sixth place would do.

Top 10: Biggest championship leads overturned
Of the 14 races so far this year, only two have produced results which, if replicated on Sunday, would keep Bottas in the championship hunt. Those were his two wins, in the Austrian and Russian grands prix, where Hamilton finished fourth and third respectively, both as a result of penalties.

Barring that kind of development, Hamilton looks set take his seventh title, equalling Michael Schumacher’s all-time record for most championships won by a Formula 1 driver.

The full championship permutations are covered below, including what would happen in the unlikely event that the race was cut short and half-points awarded, as last happened at the 2009 Malaysian Grand Prix.

How Hamilton can win the championship: Full points awarded

Results highlighted blue indicate scenarios under which Hamilton will win the championship. Some of these depend upon whether he or Bottas score the bonus point for fastest lap:

Hamilton’s finishing position
1234567891011+/DNF
Bottas178*757270686664626160
292827977**757371696867
39588828078*7674727170
498918883817977**757473
510093908783817977**7675
61029592898783817978*77
7104979491898783818079
8106999693918987838281
91081019895939189878483
101091029996949290888684
11+/DNF11010310097959391898786

*Hamilton wins the championship unless Bottas scores the bonus point for fastest lap
**Hamilton wins the championship if he scores the bonus point for fastest lap

How Hamilton can win the championship: Half-points awarded

Half points are awarded if the race is stopped with less than 75% of the race distance completed.

Hamilton’s finishing position
1234567891011+/DNF
Bottas181.58078.5*77.5**76.575.574.573.57372.5
288.583.58281807978*77**76.576
39086.583.582.581.580.579.578.5*78*77.5
491.58886.5848382818079.579
592.58987.5868483828180.580
693.59088.5878684838281.581
794.59189.5888786848382.582
895.59290.5898887868483.583
996.59391.5908988878684.584
109793.59290.589.588.587.586.585.584.5
11+/DNF97.59492.591908988878685.5

Michael Schumacher, Ferrari, Spa-Francorchamps, 2004
Hamilton is set to equal Schumacher’s record
*Hamilton wins the championship unless Bottas scores the bonus point for fastest lap
**Hamilton wins the championship if he scores the bonus point for fastest lap

Key points and notes

  • If Bottas retires from the race, Hamilton wins the title
  • If Hamilton finishes ahead of Bottas, Hamilton wins the title
  • A win plus fastest lap for Bottas is the only result which ensures the championship battle continues regardless of where Hamilton finishes
  • In any scenario where the pair end the year tied on points Hamilton will win because Bottas cannot beat him on count-back by winning more races

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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...

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33 comments on “How Hamilton can clinch a record-equalling seventh F1 title on Sunday”

  1. I think Bahrain or Abu Dhabi would be more fitting than Turkey for his championship celebration, under the floodlights in the night. However, we are all here for one thing: TURN 8 FLAT-OUT.

    1. @krichelle Where it happens is, of course, secondary as long as it happens. I agree with you on T8, though. Should be flat with all cars given that the slowest current cars also have more DF and grip than the Red Bull RB6, the only car to date that has managed to take this corner entirely without any lifting.

      1. @jerejj there is onboard video footage from other cars which indicates they were also taking that corner flat out – you can find footage of Kamui Kobayashi which suggests the 2010 Sauber C29 was also capable of doing that. There were also contemporary reports indicating that Kubica was also taking that turn flat out as well in the R30, at least during the practice sessions.

        Also, surely there is also quite a bit of context missing from that statement? If a later car was lifting slightly, but their cornering speed at the apex of each corner was actually slightly higher than the RB6, is that a more impressive or less impressive statistic? What were the gearing ratios – if the engine is slightly out of its optimum power band during that corner, then a driver might well be able to keep the throttle pinned during that corner, but it might not be the optimal solution for that particular corner (albeit perhaps being optimal across the lap as a whole).

        1. @anon
          https://youtu.be/moj6DmFTyXg
          Kobayashi’s onboard sounds like he’d lift off very briefly. Kubica definitely didn’t take the corner entirely flat in the onboard footage in this compilation. All the cars except the RB6 appear to lift off for at least a brief moment based on the onboard sounds.

    2. Old timer here. The season should only end at Interlagos, in the din of fans beating drums and stomping on the bleachers.

  2. Does anybody even care about a shallow championship? a champion who only needs to beat his team mate for the entire season while the rest of the 18 drivers can only hope for 3rd or an occasional luck to win a race.

    As Clubber Lang puts it… ” Paper Champion “.

    1. This is an oft trotted out line, so forgive me for responding to your comment but this needs to be dealt with. Yes, yes it does matter. The title still needs to be won, regardless of how strong or weak we consider the opposition to be.

      The “fault” for Hamilton’s domination lies not with Hamilton for getting the job done relentlessly for 5 of the last 6 seasons, it also doesn’t lie with Bottas for not offering a stronger challenge, it lies squarely with the other 9 teams for not giving their drivers cars good enough to compete with Mercedes.

      1. Couldn’t agree more. The way some ppl go on you would think Hamilton orchestrated all these situations to ensure he is champion. It’s also very disingenuous to presume with the crass ‘paper champion’ comment that it doesn’t take hard work to get where he is.

      2. Absolutely! A sensible person would be asking why haven’t Ferrari and Red Bull (but not exempting any other teams) managed to mount a serious challenge to Mercedes dominance? Ferrari looked like challengers for brief periods in a couple of season, but soon fell apart.

        1. @scbriml You raise a good point by singling out Red Bull and Ferrari. I was actually typing out a missive about Red Bull but decided not to include it in my initial response as I didn’t think that was the place to say it. As you’ve mentioned them now, I’m going to say it! :)

          Red Bull are, in my view, the best race team on the grid. They are excellent at thinking on their feet strategy wise, they are imperious in the pits, they are incredible when their backs are against the wall (there 15 minute before a race on the grid car rebuilds are practically a work of art) and they have a real knack of getting the absolute maximum out of nearly every weekend. Despite the public faces of the team not being everyone’s cup of tea (Horner and Marko in particular), the mechanics and engineers are all proper racers and it really does shine through when you see them on screen over a race weekend. And yet, despite having a good budget, a works engine partner, a crack race team, a genius designer in Adrian Newey and one of the fastest drivers on the grid in Max Verstappen, they haven’t mounted a serious title challenge. I think this is criminal. Ferrari are Ferrari, they are always hit and miss. But Red Bull have become so good over the last decade that it really is beyond me as to why they haven’t been able to mount a proper challenge, particularly with Honda engines. I put most of the blame for Mercedes dominance at their door because if anyone is going to beat Mercedes, logic dictates that it should be Red Bull. They have all the ingredients…they just need to execute.

          1. Thank you @scbriml, have to agree, @geemack – yep this. Red Bull are such a good race team, with a top driver, that it would be a joy and spectacle to see them work with a car that can challenge Mercedes over the season, but somehow they never quite got there again despite seemingly having all the ingredients, and often giving us flashes as well as the memory of four years of getting it right before.

          2. @geemac Let’s go back to what Ross Brawn said back in 2012 when LH was rumoured to be leaving Mac and going to Merc, to many peoples’ dismay. He said where a driver will want to be in the hybrid era is with a factory works team. We all know how complex and expensive the hybrid era has been. Enough so that it moved the goalposts for lesser teams and brought them to the brink of insolvency, and made it impossible for them to even dream of a podium finish let alone achieve one, let alone get a win on merit.

            We have seen only one other factory team come close, Ferrari, for the first halves of 2017 and 2018. That’s it. And their legality can perhaps even be questioned. Red Bull were not a factory works team in 2014, and had an inferior Renault pu to work with, and then they became a quasi works team only three years ago with Honda, which is also still catching up. Sure they are close apparently, or at least close to Renault now, perhaps even ahead, but obviously still inferior to Mercedes with their uninterrupted run.

            So before you blame Red Bull for Mercedes dominance, consider that no they do not have ‘all the ingredients and just need to execute.’ If that was the case they would have been far stronger challengers to Mercedes over these years. The fact is they have not had all the ingredients. They have not been a factory works team with the best pu to boot. They have done a great job all things considered, but no, they have lacked some necessary ingredients with which to go up against Mercedes in this hybrid era. They’ve not had 7 years and counting of being a factory works team with the best pu, and rather have been playing catch-up as a quasi works team with an inferior pu this whole time. To call it ‘criminal’ that Red Bull haven’t competed more vs Mercedes is highly unfair. Since you acknowledge their virtues as such a great team, and I agree, it seems to make no sense to claim they have all the ingredients. They simply do not. They’ve done amazingly well considering they are missing ingredients.

          3. @robbie actually, Red Bull was officially Renault’s factory team back in 2014 and in 2015.

            Renault officially designated Red Bull as their factory team when they withdrew from F1 during the V8 era (which was confirmed as part of the licence application that Red Bull made each year to renew its right to compete in F1). That status continued to apply until Renault designated the ex-Lotus team as their works team in 2016 when they returned as a full manufacturer.

            I would also say that there does sometimes seem to be too much weight given to the importance of the power units. It is often taken as read that the Red Bull chassis is good but, at times, it does feel a little as if Red Bull have sometimes fallen into the same trap as McLaren did with their engines, where they sometimes overestimated how good their chassis actually was.

            For example, there were quite a few who suggested that Red Bull were rather overestimating the strength of their chassis in 2015 – indeed, towards the tail end of that season even Horner later admitted the team had been a bit over-optimistic about the performance of the car.

            There have been a few times where it has felt that Red Bull have perhaps also underestimated the chassis performance of their rivals – some of Marko’s comments about how Red Bull believed Mercedes went the wrong way on chassis development during the 2019 pre-season tests rather came back to bite him later.

            Mind you, Marko is not the only one to do that – we’ve seen quite a few times on this site that there were fans claiming in pre-season tests that the results were a sign that Mercedes had gone the wrong way with their use of a low rake car or on their front wing philosophy (the whole inboard/outboard front wings in recent years) – yet I think it is fair to say that their chassis haven’t been the disasters that so many thought that they’d be over the years.

            As an aside, whilst you state that the rule changes “moved the goalposts for lesser teams and brought them to the brink of insolvency”, several of those teams were in fact already in rather desperate financial states during the previous V8 era.

            Hispania went bankrupt in 2012, whilst Marussia required Nikolai Fomenko, who owned Marussia Motors, to write off over $200 million in debts – Fomeko really did embody the joke that the best way to make a small fortune in motorsport is to start with a large one, as he really did see a sizeable chunk of his personal fortune vanishing into Marussia.

            Force India was notorious for being close to financial collapse in that period after Aerotech, the wind tunnel company developing their aerodynamics, sued them for over €1 million in unpaid fees in 2010 – if you ever look at the full course case judgement, where the judge discussed the financial problems Force India had, it was clear that they were in deep trouble even back then.

            Sauber, too, was reportedly pretty much clinging on by their fingernails – Hulkenberg later revealed that Sauber weren’t paying him for most of 2012 as they were so short on funds that they couldn’t pay him, and there was a rumour late in the season that Ferrari threatened to stop providing engines to Sauber because they were so far behind schedule on payments.

          4. Anon Fair comment. It’s just that when I think of a factory team, particularly with respect to today’s power units, and with respect to what Brawn was alluding to back in 2012, I don’t think Renault calling RBR their factory team is the same thing. This is about a team making everything under one roof, and I don’t think that Renault was designing and building their pu under the same roof hand in hand with RBR and Newey as they designed their car.

            As to teams already near the financial brink, sure there always are a few of those, but the ultra expensive and complex power units did nothing to help the lesser teams’ cause and only made it harder for them to afford F1 and to actually compete with even a smidge of a chance.

          5. @robbie you have to remember that what Brawn said at the time was in part justification for Hamilton “apparently” leaving what was at the time one of the top teams.

            In reality it turned out that way but I still cant help feeling that it was still way more than “just” being a manufacturer team. It was a team that had set very definitive goals and has achieved them.

            You’re certainly correct about the fact that RBR did not have a PU that was even close to comparable with the Mercedes one and it was certainly not helped by the fact that Renault made zero effort in the first few years to either improve its performance OR develop a party mode which in turn put them way behind for qualifying.

            However I still feel that RBR has failed in latter years to bring the sort of chassis excellence that one would expect from them at the start of any season. That alone has set them back. It’s not acceptable to expect to be a WCC (and therefore give your drivers the best chance) if you start behind as far as they have since 2017.

            I suspect that the biggest mistake made since the implementation of the hybrid era was McLaren taking Ross’s comment on board and moving away from Mercedes as their supplier of PU’s – had they stuck with it, I’d have expected them to have been competing on the basis of chassis alone and may well have been able to challenge Mercedes harder that RBR was able to with a PU that was so lacking.

            Yes Mercedes as manufacturer has had an advantage, but its my belief that their complete dominance has been because of three factors being:

            The inability of Ferrari to do their job properly
            RBR and McLaren having PU’s that until this year have not been even close to the Mercedes one (therefore because of the PU manufacturer’s shortcomings)
            The sheer excellence and consistency of Lewis Hamilton (which has been a bitter pill for me to admit)

            I’m hoping that 2022 might bring about some change so that cars are less PU reliant but I suspect that there may still be a way to go given Ferrari’s “problems”

          6. @dbradock I’m not sure Brawn needed to justify LH’s move but ok. I always believed Brawn re the factory works importance, never as the sole ingredient though, but had thought LH should go to Merc for other reasons anyway.

            The point is that the ‘blame’ for their chassis ‘woes’ I believe can be greatly attributed to the lack of a true factory setting, or at least if that is what they now have with Honda, it has been short lived. The more integrated the factory, the more and the sooner each season the car is at it’s optimum in this era. The reason Brawn said what he did was because the integration has never been more crucial. It is simply much harder to separate chassis from power unit…that it is not even an engine anymore is a big hint in itself. This is not the plug and play F1 that strictly an ICE allowed. Were it, RBR would be fine. They were for 4 years. Brawn has mentioned plug and play as a direction he wants F1 to head back toward.

            I thought since Mac did indeed go Honda, that was a strong indication that a customer will never beat the works team in this era and they knew it, as per the theme of my opinion re works team importance for optimum chassis and power unit integration. Going back to Mercedes will only guarantee them second at best, but whatcha gonna do, they’ll have a blast trying.

            It is why RBR are exploring avenues to stay as close to a works team as possible. Renault makes them a customer team, and while they can be effective, and perhaps moreso with the new gen cars…perhaps…they know from observing Mercedes that one needs to be a factory works team if at all possible to optimize integration and therefore competitiveness.

            Frankly though, it would seem to me for now RBR/Honda isn’t missing much that 20 or 30 more reliable hp wouldn’t cure, said knowing that could be a terrible oversimplification, or perhaps just what the doctor ordered. Whatever maintains that top end speed that they seem to lack vs Merc, which they make up for largely in corners, or so it was at the last race.

            2022 is going to be fascinating. I can’t see how the cars aren’t going to feel and race vastly differently, and it will be so interesting once they race in anger. I’d like to think a trailing car more planted, and a driver with a very definitive goal, will more often be able to make up for a little less optimum package.

        2. @robbi

          It may come as a surprise to you Robbie but the Mercedes and HPP (the engine department) are not integrated at all. They are actually separate entities some 8 miles apart and while there are clearly benefits from some staffing osmosis and shared company ethos. Ferrari and to a large extent RB were far more likely to benefit from the fact that RB and Renault had worked and succeeded together for many years prior to 2014.

          The main issue is that of arrogance as I see it. Not unusual in teams with such extensive periods of success. RB have always indicated that they had the very best chassis (correct to an extent but not always starting the season that way) and that any problems were someone else’s (anyone) fault. And telling everyone that. That is a ridiculous way to treat a multi national company that has many many years of success including with yourselves. Particularly as they were supplying you engines that were pretty much free. That inability to improve your own p3rformance by always believing you are perfect is the historical downfall that is peculiar to British manufacturing a long way back.

          In Ferrari case well they actually are completely intergrated and if the benefits were so obvious and important they would have been the obvious beneficiaries. However they are Ferrari. Enough said.

          Mercedes are conti;using to move forward because they do not think they have everything right or perfect and that deep insecurity toto and Mercedes display that many on the forum ridicule is a large part of what keeps them there.

      3. Michael (@freelittlebirds)
        9th November 2020, 12:51

        @geemac totally agree. If we had to rate the teams over the entire hybrid era, it would be:

        Mercedes 10
        Red Bull 2
        Ferrari 1.5
        Everyone else 1 or 0

        We could be more generous in a particular season and give Red Bull a 7 or 8 and Ferraris 9s but if you look over the entire era, those scores would objectively drop towards 0 for all teams except Mercedes. They have not been able to mount a convincing offensive whatsoever against Mercedes.

    2. @invincibleisaac
      9th November 2020, 14:37

      Whilst I disagree with your comment, I do always love a quote from the Rocky films! ;)

      Of course Hamilton has been less challenged this year due to having a convincing edge over his team-mate, and the other teams not holding a serious threat to Mercedes. However, a “paper champion” is a very harsh term – when I think back to 2017 & 2018 when Hamilton was challenged by Ferrari, he had arguably his 2 best seasons when under pressure. Not much more he can do to show he’s one of the greats.

      1. Yet even in 2017 and 2018, when LH was being challenged by SV in the first halves of those seasons, LH was still winning as much as SV was, so he needn’t have worried that he had inferior equipment or anything like that, with which to go after Seb. There was no reason to suspect Ferrari were now superior to Mercedes, and certainly LH fans would have been shouting from the highest mountain that there were still many races to be run and many points to be had. Sure enough in both seasons LH and Mercedes ran away in the second halves, as they do, so let’s not make it sound like LH/Mercedes pulled off miracles by beating Ferrari in 2017 and 2018. Mercedes only got stronger as those seasons went along and SV/Ferrari faltered both times, with naturally LH/Mercedes being the main benefactor. LH no longer had a teammate bothering him and taking points away from him either.

    3. chris, the thing is, by that attitude you can also rule out quite a few other drivers, even up to and including drivers promoted as greats of the sport.

      After all, that same statement can be applied to some of Fangio’s championships – in 1955, only 7 drivers in the entire field even contested all of the Formula 1 events and the Mercedes W196 was the class of the field (Fangio was, in fact, the only driver in the entire field who had to drop scores that year under the rule that only your five best results).

      You could even say that, as Stirling Moss was explicitly signed as a No.2 driver to Fangio, Fangio had already beaten Moss before the season began thanks to the preferential treatment written into his contract. Is Fangio, therefore, a “paper champion” for his success in 1955 when he had quite a lot of advantages stacked in his favour that season?

      Does Senna get criticised for winning in 1988 when chassis homologation and engine rule changes gave McLaren a massive advantage, as nobody else was really trying to contest the 1988 season? Do you think Schumacher was a “paper champion” for winning against Barrichello in the more dominant seasons Ferrari had?

      Do we also apply that standard to other drivers as well – would you call Phil Hill for winning the 1961 season when, in terms of the technical performance, the 1961 Ferrari 156 is often considered the most dominant car and allowed two fairly average drivers (arguably even two below average drivers) to compete for the title? There are those who slam Jacques Villeneuve for being gifted a title in 1997 thanks to the performance advantage Williams gave him too.

    4. Why are you commenting on an F1 article on a website 90% dedicated to F1 then? Bore off.

  3. Ofcourse Leiws is going to win the championship i don’t see Lewis engine blow up 3 times in a row.

    1. Michael (@freelittlebirds)
      9th November 2020, 12:53

      @macleod the biggest threat to the F1 and MotoGP championships at this point is probably COVID. If a driver tests positive and misses a couple of races, that could spell trouble for both Hamilton and Mir.

      1. That’s right but sick for more then 2 races i don’t see that happen. Then he still has enough points to counter that.

  4. He will be the statistcally greatest F1 driver of all time. And he is still hungry for more.

    Adrian Newey and Honda need to dig deeper for next year.

  5. Rosberg 2016
    The whole 2010 season
    Massa 2008
    Irvine 1999

    I can think those seasons where “n.2” driver had a chance to win the title.

  6. Meh, sorry seems like such a forgone conclusion to the title fight.

    If we want any doubt on next year Bottas needs to win all the remainung races and dent Lewis confidence.

  7. Some do not like Mercedes for being the best prepared team season after season.
    Some want to burden this success so that all the other teams will finally have a chance to be competitive.
    Dumb founded that fans fail to see how the Mercedes effort to bring competitive racecars is so fantastic so amazing so good for the sport.
    YES, dominance produces the simple basis for better competition. Think about that. But only if you want to become better yourself. Your not getting better by thinking that as a losing team you’ll get better by diluting the series so that the dominant team is penalized to become a lesser machine at the expense of every other lesser team.
    That’s what Fans think will make racing better?
    Just Get Better in every way. Learn how to improve every cotton picking thing that is needed to make you better. Let that evidence then become the path for improvement.
    Not all these teams in 2020 are seeing the example of how to bring the championship home. Some are close.
    Mercedes is better run and their organization functions better as a true Team where they figure out a way to do all of it and that is verified by the results of their drivers.

  8. The simple way to look at this is that Bottas needs to beat his teammate by at least eight points to postpone the clinching of the record-equalling seventh WDC to Bahrain 1. The other ways to reduce the points gap by eight points is that he finishes sixth and Hamilton 11th at best, or sixth with FL point and Hamilton 10th at best. Nevertheless, the likelihood of Hamilton mathematically clinching his seventh in Turkey is high as he’s unlikely to finish lower than second on outright pace without any mishaps on dry conditions, in which case, it’d be the FL point that decides the outcome.

    1. ‘In which case’ I mean him second and BOT first.

  9. Dave (@davewillisporter)
    9th November 2020, 17:41

    Just re-watched Lewis in GP2 round Turkey in 2006. Hope this race is that good!

    1. @davewillisporter Well, one of the greatest comebacks of all time. Maybe Lewis starts from the back for some reason, and still manages to win, with fastest lap and take #7.

      As a drive I’m afraid it still can’t compare, the ART wasn’t quite as dominant in 2006 as the W11 is in 2020.

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