Lewis Hamilton can live his own American dream by becoming a triple Formula 1 world champion in Texas on Sunday.
If the Briton scores two points more than Mercedes team mate Nico Rosberg, and nine more than Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel, at the Circuit of the Americas then it is game over with three races to spare.
A Mercedes one-two, with Hamilton winning, would see to that.
No British driver has ever won two Formula 1 titles in a row, despite the country providing more world champions than any other nation, but Hamilton looks set to make history in a country he considers home from home.
The 30-year-old would join Jackie Stewart, now 76, as Britain’s only three times champions but it is another great — Brazil’s late triple title winner Ayrton Senna — that he most wants to emulate.
“I didn’t grow up watching Jackie, when I was a kid, I wanted to see Ayrton,” Hamilton, who until recently raced with a similar yellow helmet to Senna’s, told British reporters after victory in Russia 10 days ago put the title within reach.
“I don’t have that connection with Jackie as I did with Ayrton,” he said. “It has nothing to do with nationality, just that’s the guy who caught my eye as a kid and that’s the guy I aspired to be. I haven’t aspired to be like any of the other drivers.”
If Brazil, next month, might have been a more symbolic place to secure the title then the United States is perfect in other respects.
Hamilton has a holiday home in Colorado and is a frequent visitor, as celebrity websites and his social media accounts bear witness, to both the east and west coasts of a country that is also his employer’s biggest market.
With Mercedes wrapping up the constructors’ title in Russia for the second year in a row, Sunday could see the ‘double double’ sealed in style.
The country’s race has been good to Hamilton, who is chasing a literal hat-trick after winning two of the three grands prix held so far in Austin and three of the last four in the United States.
“If I can come away with a third (winner’s) Stetson hat that would be unbelievable,” he said.
Rosberg, despite the mathematical odds against him, will be determined to keep his team mate waiting at least until Formula One makes its return to Mexico next week.
With only three wins to Hamilton’s nine, and Vettel’s three, he needs to regain momentum after retirement in Sochi pushed him down to third overall in the championship behind Ferrari’s four times champion.
“It’s clear that the title is a long shot for me now. But it’s not in me to give up or back down, so I’ll be pushing flat out to the end and hopefully having some fun out there in the final few rounds this year,” said Rosberg.
“Austin is definitely somewhere that you can have fun too…I got pole there last year, and I’m coming off the back of a really strong weekend in Russia in terms of my performance, so if I can repeat all of that then I’ll be in a good position.”
For local fans there will be the novelty of a U.S. driver to cheer, the first since 2007, even if Californian Alexander Rossi is more likely to be lapped in the Manor Marussia than playing any part in the championship outcome.
The starting grid will have two more cars than last year, a race that went ahead amid rumbles of a potential boycott after absent Marussia and now-defunct Caterham went into administration.
United States Grand Prix Stats & Facts
- Lap distance: 5.513 km. Total distance: 308.405 km (56 laps)
- Race lap record: Sebastian Vettel (Germany) Red Bull One minute 39.347 seconds.
- 2014 pole: Nico Rosberg (Germany) Mercedes
- 2014 winner: Lewis Hamilton (Britain) Mercedes
- Start time: 1900 GMT (1400 local)
- Tyres: Medium (white), Soft (yellow)
- Hamilton can take his third drivers’ title, and second in a row, in Austin if he scores two points more than team mate Nico Rosberg and nine more than Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel.
- A Mercedes one-two, with Rosberg second, would do it.
- Hamilton would be the first British driver to take back-to-back titles and only the second (the other being Jackie Stewart)to win three championships.
- Only nine other drivers have won three or more titles and only nine have won back-to-back titles, Vettel being the most recent.
- Mercedes clinched their second successive constructors’ title, with four races to spare, in Russia on Oct 11.
- Mercedes have had eight one-twos this season and won 12 of the 15 races.
- Hamilton has won nine. No driver has ever failed to take the title after winning eight or more races in a season. Hamilton won 11 races last year.
- Four-times world champion Vettel has won three races for Ferrari this season. That is the same number that Michael Schumacher won in his first season at Ferrari in 1996.
- Hamilton and Vettel both have 42 career wins, putting them joint third on the all-time list behind Schumacher (91) and Alain Prost (51). Fernando Alonso has 32 wins, Kimi Raikkonen 20, Jenson Button 15 and Rosberg 11.
- Ferrari have won 224 races, McLaren 182, Williams 114 and Red Bull 50. Mercedes have won 41.
- McLaren have not won for 53 races, a run that dates back to Brazil 2012 and is the team’s worst since they also went 53 races without a win between the 1977 Japanese Grand Prix and 1981 British GP.
- Hamilton has been on pole in 11 of 15 races this season, Rosberg three. The Briton has 49 career poles, Rosberg 18. Vettel has 46 career poles.
- Only two drivers in F1 history have had 50 poles or more: Michael Schumacher (68) and Senna (65).
- Rosberg has been on pole in the last two races, without winning either.
- Ten drivers from six teams have been on the podium in 2015: Hamilton, Rosberg (Mercedes), Vettel, Raikkonen (Ferrari), Valtteri Bottas, Felipe Massa (Williams), Daniil Kvyat and Daniel Ricciardo (Red Bull), Romain Grosjean (Lotus) and Sergio Perez (Force India).
- Hamilton, Rosberg and Vettel have shared the podium in seven races.
- Rosberg has been second on six occasions this season.
- Vettel has had 11 podium finishes so far this year, more than in his title-winning 2010 and 2013 seasons.
- Hamilton leads Vettel by 66 points and Rosberg by 73.
- Formula One has raced at 10 different venues in the United States over the years. Austin is hosting a race for the fourth time.
- Manor Marussia’s Alexander Rossi will be the first U.S. driver to start a home Formula One race since Scott Speed with Toro Rosso at Indianapolis in 2007.
- The Californian made his race debut in Singapore last month and is the 48th American to have started a regular championship Grand Prix.
- Hamilton and Vettel are the only drivers on the starting grid to have won previously in the United States. Hamilton has won two of the three races in Austin to date and three of the last four in the United States.
- Vettel is the only driver to have won in Austin from pole (2013). Hamilton has yet to start from pole in Texas.
- Rosberg was on pole in Austin last year.
- Sauber are celebrating their 400th grand prix this weekend. Their first was South Africa 1993. In that time they have won once (as BMW-Sauber), taken 26 podiums and one pole position.