Lewis Hamilton will secure a SEVENTH title with a win at the Turkish GP… but amid tense Mercedes contract talks will it be enough to keep him in F1 with his interests in the BLM movement, climate change and fashion?
- Lewis Hamilton is in line to win his seventh world championship on Sunday
- Victory at the Turkish Grand Prix would land Brit a record-equalling title
- It would see him go level with Michael Schumacher’s Formula One record
- Only Mercedes team-mate Valtteri Bottas can deny him title in last four races
- But Hamilton’s future in F1 remains uncertain regardless of Sunday’s outcome
Even in a year where the most unpredictable events have occurred you would be incredibly silly to bet against Lewis Hamilton taking a record-equalling seventh world championship now.
It is a case of ‘when’ and not ‘if’ the Brit manages to land the title and go level with the all-time record set by Michael Schumacher in 2004.
Hamilton has dominated the sport with Mercedes since claiming his second world championship in 2014, winning it every year since barring 2016 when he was pipped by his former team-mate Nico Rosberg.
But there appears little that can stop him now as Sportsmail looks at the permutations that will enable the 35-year-old to claim the title at Sunday’s Turkish Grand Prix.
Lewis Hamilton is on the cusp of winning his seventh world championship in Turkey on Sunday
Victory last rime out in Imola ensures Hamilton can claim the title with another win in Istanbul
The big number is 78. And that is the amount of points Hamilton will need to hold over Valtteri Bottas if he is to win the world championship as early as Sunday.
The Mercedes star currently has an 85-point gap over the Finn so he will be world champion if he finishes in front of his team-mate, despite there still being three races remaining after this weekend.
With a race win scoring 25 points, second place earning 18 points and a bonus point on offer for a fastest lap, the only position Hamilton can finish to be certain of landing the title would be first place.
There is a scenario where if Hamilton finishes second and Bottas takes first that the Finn could still level the Brit’s season total mathematically (assuming another driver takes fastest lap). However the countback rule of race wins would work in Hamilton’s favour should this incredibly unlikely event occur at the final race in Abu Dhabi in December.
Hamilton could claim the championship with three races of the season still to be contested
Only Valtteri Bottas (right) can stop his Mercedes team-mate from winning the championship
What does Bottas need to do to keep his hopes alive?
It’s more about delaying a coronation now than a title race but the only way Bottas can be sure of taking the ‘fight’ onto the next race in Bahrain is to win and take the fastest lap.
It is something he has only done once all season when he won in Russia with Hamilton down in third.
Given Mercedes’ total domination of the field this season his best hope is that of a Hamilton retirement on race day – although that has not happened once in 2021.
Only twice in the following 10 races since the season opener in Austria has Hamilton even finished outside the top two and he has taken six of the fastest laps in that time compared to Bottas’s two.
Another outside bet is that Max Verstappen and Red Bull can prove a threat around Istanbul to take points off Hamilton, especially with the circuit being an unknown factor with Formula One having not raced there for nine years.
The Dutchman was a threat last time out at Imola before a car failure robbed him of a likely second place and he will be keen to showcase his undoubted talent again despite his significantly inferior machinery.
Bottas’s mission is to win with a fastest lap to take the championship on to the Bahrain GP
HOW THE TITLE BATTLE CAN UNFOLD IN TURKEY
If Bottas places…
1st (with fastest lap)
1st (without FL)
2nd (with FL)
2nd (without FL)
3rd (with FL)
3rd (without FL)
4th (with FL)
4th (without FL)
5th (with FL)
5th (without FL)
6th (with FL)
6th (without FL)
Hamilton can win the title by…
He cannot win the title in Turkey
Finishing 4th or 5th (with FL)
Finishing 5th or 9th (with FL)
Finishing 9th or 10th (with FL)
He is champion
Points system: 1st (25), 2nd (18), 3rd (15), 4th (12), 5th (10), 6th (8), 7th (6), 8th (4), 9th (2), 10th (1), Fastest lap (1)
What is next for Hamilton?
Regardless of whether he takes the title in Turkey there is still plenty of speculation over Hamilton’s future not just at Mercedes but within Formula One.
He is out of contract at Mercedes at the end of the season and contract negotiations with the team team have been tense. Hamilton started the year wanting £40million-a-year but this was a figure the team rejected.
Since the coronavirus hit, Mercedes have been even less keen to deal in those sorts of numbers and are now trying to cut the world champion’s demands by half to a £20million-a-year deal.
To complicate matters further a salary cap is in line from 2023, which Mercedes are in favour or – much to Hamilton’s chagrin – while his long time team boss Toto Wolff is also set for a new role within Mercedes.
Mercedes boss Toto Wolff, (centre) pictured with Bottas and Hamilton after the team won both championships at Imola, is set to take on a different role next season
Mercedes are only team likely to battle for championships, having won the drivers’ and the constructors’ title every year since 2014 – including this season
At the last race in Imola, Hamilton appeared to suggest he could quit F1 at the end of the season to pursue other interests but it’s hard to see this as anything more than a negotiation tactic.
With a record breaking eighth championship on the line, it’s hard to see the Brit walking away from Mercedes now even if he has to compromise on the financial deal he wants.
The double edged-sword of Mercedes’ domination to give him the opportunity to do that is there are no alternative teams he can join who at least for now can provide him with a car worthy of battling for the championship. In this regard Mercedes hold the upper hand in negotiations and expect there to be much more progress once Hamilton secures the championship.
Of course Hamilton has avenues away from the track that he hopes to pursue, including music, fashion and political activism but most of these have been forced into a backwards step this year.
Neymar, Barbara Palvin and Lewis Hamilton at the LOVE magazine party during Fashion Week
Hamilton has been active in raising awareness for Black Lives Matter throughout the season and may choose to spend time away from F1 to focus on his personal beliefs
Talks of a career in music have died down in the last couple of years, while the ongoing Covid-19 crisis around the world have limited his previously busy extrovert lifestyle which included various glamorous parties at fashion events.
His political activism has increased this term, especially with his ongoing support for Black Lives Matter and the Hamilton commission he launched off the back of it to promote more diversity in motorsport. He has also been vocal in speaking out against climate change.
Having lived abroad since 2007, first in Switzerland then Monaco for the last eight years, Hamilton admitted recently he misses living in Great Britain. But even at 35-years-old it’s hard to imagine him moving back to his home country and take up countryside walking with a flat cap, a rambling stick and his dog Roscoe just yet.
It’s hard to imagine how any of the above will give him the same fulfilment as he has driving a Formula One car – especially in the current climate.
Hamilton posted on Instagram recently about how much he misses his home country
In all likelihood, Hamilton will start the 2021 season with Mercedes looking for his eighth title
With this in mind he has a big chance to continue setting records that may never be broken over the course of the 2021 campaign – Schumacher’s seven titles being chief among them having already eclipsed his 91 race victories this term.
In regards to his political activism, he has no bigger platform in which to build than his status as the leading F1 driver on the grid which through his support for Black Lives Matter has helped the sport increase their campaign to promote diversity.
So despite his quit threats, the uncertainty over his future in Formula One and his contract at Mercedes running out in mere weeks – it will still prove a huge shock if the 2021 season does not begin with Hamilton lining up on the front row in a Mercedes gunning for that record eighth world championship.
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