Following his victory in Japan, Lewis Hamilton could seal the 2018 Formula One drivers' championship at the U.S. Grand Prix in Austin on October 21.
Hamilton claimed his fourth straight win at Suzuka, where main title rival Sebastian Vettel struggled to a sixth-place finish in what was an error-strewn weekend for the Ferrari driver. The result opened up the gap between the pair to 67 points with four races left.
F1's points are awarded to the top ten finishers -- 25, 18, 15, 12, 10, 8, 6, 4, 2, 1 -- meaning he effectively needs to out-score Vettel by eight points in Austin to secure the championship.. Here are the results Hamilton needs to clinch the title at the Circuit of the Americas:
Hamilton 1st, Vettel 3rd or lower
Hamilton 2nd, Vettel 5th or lower
Hamilton 3rd, Vettel 7th or lower
Hamilton 4th, Vettel 8th or lower
Hamilton 5th, Vettel 9th or lower
Hamilton 6th, Vettel fails to score
If Hamilton is seventh or lower, the championship fight will go to the Mexican Grand Prix regardless of where Vettel finishes.
COTA is one of Hamilton's strongest race venues -- he's won five of the six races there since it returned to the calendar in 2012. He wrapped up the 2015 championship there by beating Nico Rosberg to the top step of the podium.
The most simple way for Hamilton to win the title would be to replicate the results of the last two races, in Russia and Japan, by leading home Mercedes teammate Valtteri Bottas in a one-two finish. Hamilton has not finished a race off the podium yet in 2018, with his only retirement coming at the Austrian Grand Prix.