Hamilton racing past the grand stand and a pit sign during the F1 US Grand Prix at the Circuit of the Americas in Austin, Texas on Sunday. Photo by Reuters
AUSTIN: Lewis Hamilton’s United States Grand Prix victory means the Briton can now secure his second Formula One (F1) title without having to win again but there could still be a sting in the tail.
The spectre of double points, a novelty introduced for the first time for the final race in Abu Dhabi (United Arab Emirates), hangs over the championship and is causing some trepidation at Mercedes.
Whatever happens in Brazil next weekend, Sunday’s result means the championship cannot now be decided until the race at Yas Marina on Nov 23.
“I don’t have a fear, but I think the last race with the double points has the potential to overshadow the season,” said Mercedes motorsport head Toto Wolff after Hamilton chalked up his 10th win of the season and fifth in succession.
Mercedes are sure of both titles now with Hamilton and teammate Nico Rosberg the only drivers still in championship contention with two races remaining, but a controversial finish could take the gloss off the team’s achievements.
It would be a travesty if Hamilton did not prevail, with Rosberg only winning four of the 17 races so far, but the two are only 24 points apart.
That means Hamilton could triumph in Brazil next weekend and still ultimately lose out, even if Rosberg draws a blank at Interlagos, if he suffers a retirement in Abu Dhabi and the German wins.
On a more positive note for the Briton, two second places would be ample to secure the title even with double points.
“We know why the double points came, and it made sense in the world to make it spectacular for the audience, the fans and the viewers,” said Wolff.
“But now we are in a situation where it could change the outcome.”
The rule change, championed by commercial supremo Bernie Ecclestone, was designed primarily to ensure after four years of domination by Red Bull and Sebastian Vettel the title battle went to the wire.
In that it has succeeded, even if there is now the risk of leaving fans — many of whom dislike what they see as a gimmick — facing an unprecedented situation and feeling cheated of a deserving winner. — Reuters
This article first appeared in The Edge Financial Daily, on November 4, 2014.