Lewis Hamilton is set to secure his sixth Formula One World Championship in Austin, Texas on Sunday.
The Mercedes driver holds a 74-point title lead over team-mate Valtteri Bottas with just 78 points remaining.
Here, the PA news agency looks at five talking points ahead of this weekend’s United States Grand Prix.
1. Hamilton poised for six of the best
Lewis Hamilton will almost certainly become only the second driver in the sport’s history to be crowned a six-time world champion at this weekend’s US GP. Following his surprise victory in Mexico last Sunday, the British driver needs to finish only eighth in Austin to be certain of the championship. If Bottas fails to win, then the title will be Hamilton’s, too, regardless of where he finishes. Hamilton triumphed at six of the opening eight rounds this year, and from there, the world title that will move him one above Juan Manuel Fangio, and to within striking range of Michael Schumacher’s record haul of seven, has never looked in doubt.
2. Brawn calls for Verstappen improvement
Max Verstappen took a bit of a pasting from both Hamilton and Sebastian Vettel following the race in Mexico. Hamilton said he affords Verstappen extra space to avoid being “torpedoed”. Vettel agreed with Hamilton, saying, “cut and paste, it is true”. Verstappen had the machinery to win in Mexico, but made a number of mistakes before finishing sixth. And Ross Brawn, F1’s motorsport boss, has called on the Red Bull driver, who will make his 100th F1 appearance on Sunday, to take a leaf out of Hamilton’s book. “Max is still only 22 so there is plenty of room for improvement,” said Brawn. “The important thing is to learn from one’s mistakes, which applies even if you’re 50 but perhaps a little more so at 22. You have to win the ones you should win and the ones you shouldn’t as demonstrated by Hamilton – that is how you become a world champion.”
3. F1 makes American push
The sport’s American owners, Liberty Media, has made no secret of its desire to increase F1’s pull in the States. On Wednesday evening, Verstappen, Bottas and Daniel Ricciardo will drive their F1 cars on Hollywood Boulevard in another attempt to woo the country. The sport’s bosses are desperate for a grand prix in Miami, and recently announced plans to stage a race around the Miami Dolphins Stadium in 2021. But local opposition to the proposed event is failing to go away, and it remains unclear whether F1 will be able to turn this pipedream into a reality.
4. 2021 regulations set to be unveiled
The deadline for the sport’s 2021 regulations passes on Thursday, enabling us to get a clearer picture of F1’s future. A budget cap of £150million is poised to be introduced (Mercedes, Ferrari and Red Bull currently spend north of £300m) in a bid to tighten up the field. Racier and more-aesthetically pleasing cars have been tabled, but Mercedes, Ferrari and Red Bull are understood to be against the new rules, and Ferrari could yet use its veto to vote down the entire proposal.
5. Time for Norris to toughen up
British teenager Lando Norris was in contention for a strong result in Mexico before he was forced to retire following a sloppy McLaren pit stop. It is not the first time his race has been compromised this season. And the 19-year-old rookie has hinted he might need to toughen up his approach. “I want to be able to lead more, rather than following and being told what to do,” he said. “I need to be a bigger guy, a bigger man and tell people more what I need and what I don’t need. Sometimes I’m too nice.”