Lewis Hamilton cannot win the 2019 Drivers’ Championship at Suzuka, but Mercedes can wrap up the Constructors’ Championship. Here are the title permutations ahead of the Japanese Grand Prix.
With five races left to run in 2019, and 130 points left on offer, Lewis Hamilton leads the way in the Drivers’ Championship by 73 points. There are five drivers still with a mathematical chance of wining the 2019 title: the aforementioned Hamilton, Valtteri Bottas, Charles Leclerc, Max Verstappen and Sebastian Vettel.
The earliest point at which Hamilton can win the title is the Mexican Grand Prix. If he does so, it will be the sixth time that the title has been decided in Mexico City and the third consecutive year that Hamilton has won the title there. The simplest permutation is that Hamilton will win the title in Mexico if he takes victory in both Japan and Mexico, regardless of where anyone else finishes.
THE OTHER DRIVERS IN CONTENTION
Hamilton’s main title rival at this stage is his team-mate Bottas, who would need to out-score the leader by 74 points over the next five races in order to take his maiden title. If Bottas were to win and set fastest lap in every remaining race, Hamilton would have to score no more than 56 points over the five races.
Forgetting the additional fastest lap points for a moment, Leclerc requires at least three wins, a second place and a third place in the remaining five races to win the championship in 2019. But in this scenario, Leclerc would be out of contention if Hamilton scored a single point over the course of the five races! If Leclerc wins every remaining and race and sets the fastest lap, Hamilton can score no more than 22 points in order for the Monegasque driver to be champion.
Verstappen can still win the title, but like Leclerc also requires a podium at all five remaining races. He could win at three races and finish second in the other two, but Hamilton would have to fail to score a single point in that scenario. If Verstappen were to win every remaining race and set the fastest lap in all five, he would be champion if Hamilton scores no more than 19 points. Verstappen will drop out of contention in Japan unless he out-scores Hamilton by at least seven points.
Vettel can still win, but it would take a miracle for him to do so. To be crowned champion this year, Vettel must win and set the fastest lap at all five remaining races. Even if he did so, he’d also need Hamilton to score no more than a solitary point in the remaining races, Bottas to score no more than 75 points, Leclerc to score no more than 109 points and Verstappen to score no more than 112 points. Vettel is highly likely to drop out of contention in Suzuka.
Brazil and Japan are the only other countries where the title has been decided in three consecutive years. A champion was crowned at Interlagos for five consecutive seasons between 2005 and 2009, while Suzuka saw the champion crowned for five consecutive seasons between 1987 and 1991 and then for another three in 1998, 1999 and 2000.
How Mercedes can win the title in Japan
Unlike the Drivers’ Title, the team honours can be clinched in Japan. A title win for Mercedes would be their sixth consecutive crown, equalling the record of most consecutive title victories set by Ferrari between 1999 and 2004.
Mercedes will win the title at Suzuka if they out-score Ferrari by 14 points. A 1-2 finish for Mercedes would secure them the title regardless of where Ferrari finish. Meanwhile, the title battle will continue on to Mexico if both Ferraris finish on the podium. If Ferrari fail to score, Mercedes will win the title if they finish in any combination which equates to 14 points (one such way is if both Hamilton and Bottas finish in the top seven). Here are some of the other permutations:
|If Mercedes finish...||They'll win the title unless Ferrari…|
|1st and 2nd + Fastest Lap||Mercedes are champions|
|1st and 2nd||Mercedes are champions|
|1st and 3rd + Fastest Lap||Finish 2nd and 4th
Finish 2nd and 5th
|1st and 3rd||Finish 2nd and 4th
Finish 2nd and 5th
Finish 2nd and 6th + fastest lap
|1st and 4th + Fastest Lap||Finish 2nd and 3rd
Finish 2nd and 5th
Finish 2nd and 6th
Finish 3rd and 5th
|1st and 4th||Score 24 points|
|2nd and 3rd + Fastest Lap||Score 21 points|
|2nd and 3rd + Fastest Lap||Score 20 points|
|2nd and 4th + Fastest Lap||Score 17 points|
|2nd and 4th||Score 16 points|
|2nd and 5th + Fastest Lap||Score 16 points|
|2nd and 5th||Score 15 points|
|2nd and 6th + Fastest Lap||Score 14 points|
|2nd and 6th||Score 13 points|
|3rd and 4th + Fastest Lap||Score 15 points|
|3rd and 4th||Score 14 points|
|3rd and 5th + Fastest Lap||Score 13 points|
|3rd and 5th||Score 12 points|
If Mercedes do win the title at Suzuka, it will be the eighth time that a Constructors’ Championship has been sealed at the circuit. The title was also won at the Japanese Grand Prix by McLaren in 1990 and 1998, Benetton in 1995, Williams in 1997, Ferrari in 1999 and 2003 and most recently by Mercedes in 2016.
After graduating in 2015 with a First Class honours degree in English Language and Literature, Nicky Haldenby, a lifelong fan of Formula 1, founded the Lights Out F1 Blog in 2016. The blog has become a firm fan-favourite, delving deep into the sport’s history books and lifting the cover on unusual F1 statistics.
Nicky also writes at F1Destinations and Motorsport Guides and can be heard as the resident stats man on the 2 Soft Compounds Podcast. His work has appeared on WTF1, BadgerGP, motorsport.com, Sky Sports F1 and BBC Radio 5 Live. Nicky is also the host of the F1 Rewind Podcast.