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American GP: No envy from Vettel as Hamilton looks set to clinch his sixth world title

Sebastian Vettel reveals he does not feel envious towards his championship rival, Lewis Hamilton, as the Briton heads into the weekend looking set to win his sixth title.

Just three points is all the Mercedes driver needs in Austin to win his fifth title in six years as Vettel has narrowly missed out on two of those, despite arguably possessing the better car.

However, before such Hamilton dominance, Vettel had four world titles compared to his rival’s one, but the Ferrari driver has no feelings of resentment ahead of this weekend.

“I wouldn’t say ‘envy’ because I appreciate his efforts, his performances, his success a lot.

“I think you have to because it’s obvious. If not, then I don’t know, it wouldn’t be me, it would be wrong.

“So I think he deserves it. Together with his team he’s done a great job.

“Obviously, in a way you could say, I’m jealous because we wanted to be there and we are not. But [it’s] not that I envy him. I think you know, it’s the name of the game” he said.

The 2015 US Grand Prix saw Hamilton become a triple world champion. Imagine: Reuters

The 2017 and 2018 title witnessed Hamilton and Vettel closely go head-to-head with the championship momentum swinging either way as each race passed by, but both times Mercedes eventually got the better of Ferrari for a variety of reasons.

However, in 2019 the gap has not been so tight.

From the first race in Australia, Mercedes have clearly been in the stronger position as Hamilton has ended up ‘running away’ with the championship lead, whilst Valtteri Bottas has been his closest challenger this time around and not Vettel.

Maybe Vettel’s opportunity for a fifth world title of his own has now passed-by.

In 2019, the Ferrari driver has been nowhere near of a match for Hamilton with just one race victory so far this season compared to his rival’s ten – instead Vettel has had more competition to focus on within the garage, as Charles Leclerc leads him in the championship.

And Hamilton’s dominance in 2019 may continue again this weekend in America.

Despite only needing to finish eighth – or ninth with the fastest lap – to clinch another title, Hamilton should have his sights on much more having won five of the past seven races at the Circuit of the Americas – he also won his third world title at this track, the same to happen for his sixth?

Meanwhile, the only man that can stop him winning the title this weekend, Valtteri Bottas, is yet to finish on the podium in America.

Bottas must win the race added with hope that Hamilton finishes outside the top eight or nine, depending on the fastest lap, for the ‘title race’ to remain alive heading into Brazil – maybe Bottas’ only hope is a retirement for his team-mate.

Whilst it is likely that Hamilton will win the title this weekend, an exciting race should still be expected with last time out in America being no different.

“****** finally!” Raikkonen uttered as he ended his 112 race winless streak, it was a very popular result amongst F1 fans. Image: formula1.com

The Mercedes driver headed into that weekend like this one, in good stead to clinch another title but failed to do so, but that wasn’t the biggest talking point of the race.

It was the day in which Kimi Raikkonen finally won another Grand Prix after going 112 races beforehand since his last victory, Australia 2013 – he set a new record that day for the longest time period between two race wins.

Even though he isn’t likely to win the race again this year, it was still a tremendous occurrence nonetheless for one of Formula One’s most popular drivers this century.

How did Hamilton get to this point?

Heading into the 2019 season, Mercedes arrived as the ‘underdogs’ due to Ferrari’s exhilarating speed in pre-season. Such pace caused Hamilton to admit that the Ferrari is “potentially half a second quicker” than the Mercedes.

Oh how the contrast has played out.

Hamilton qualified on pole in the opening weekend with a one-two for Mercedes, but Bottas then came out victorious overtaking his team-mate from the start and dominating the race.

This caused many to think that there was now a ‘Bottas 2.0’, one that could challenge Hamilton and not be his ‘wingman’ like in 2018.

But, Hamilton responded brilliantly winning the next race in Bahrain, however largely due to Leclerc’s engine problem.

Ways in which Hamilton can become champion this weekend
If Bottas does not win the race then Hamilton is champion regardless
If Bottas wins the race, with or without the fastest lap, then Hamilton is champion if he finishes eighth or higher – one point is awarded for gaining the fastest lap
If Bottas wins with no fastest lap, then Hamilton is champion if he finishes ninth with the fastest lap

Both drivers then won one each in the next two races, with Bottas leading the championship by one point after the first four races.

Yet Hamilton then reached another level that maybe no other driver currently can.

He then won the next six out of eight races to be leading the championship by 62 points at the summer break – the title was effectively won in the first half of the season.

Although, since the summer break it has been a little trickier for Hamilton with Ferrari drastically improving their car.

Just two wins out the first six races since the summer break and no pole positions, the gap has been a lot closer between the front runners.

But with a points deficit that was already very large, such form hasn’t negatively affected Hamilton’s season too much with the five-time world champion constantly leading the championship comfortably.

And now with ten race wins so far this season, he has his chance to win yet another this weekend in America.

Should he clinch a sixth world title, then he will tie Schumacher’s record for the most championship wins at a single constructor – five.

Sublime drivers such as those in Britain and Hungary could be the defining wins for Hamilton this year, as sights will become firmly set on matching Schumacher’s championship tally of seven in 2020.

 

By Edward Hardy

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