Six races remain of the 2020 Formula 1 season and after Lewis Hamilton equalled the all-time wins record held by Michael Schumacher with victory at the Eifel GP, a record-equalling seventh crown seems inevitable.
Mathematically though it’s not over until it’s over. Valtteri Bottas’ DNF at the Nürburgring was a serious dent in his chances but as the numbers show, he isn’t out of contention just yet.
F1 championship points after Round 11, Eifel GP
|Position||Driver||Points||Gap to leader|
|Maximum points remaining||156|
Reliability has been Mercedes’ strong suit though so it’s Hamilton’s to lose.
Despite an ever-more impressive Red Bull, we’re discounting the slim possibility of Max Verstappen overhauling the 83 point deficit to Hamilton for the purposes of this article, which leaves Valtteri Bottas.
Currently 69 points behind Hamilton, Bottas will need more than a few slices of luck to become champion. But that’s not out of the question in an already peculiar season where he has the right car and – as we’ve seen in recent qualifying sessions – the pace too.
It will take more than staying ahead of his team-mate to deny him a record-equalling seventh title, though. Hamilton could theoretically finish runner-up to the Finn for the remainder of the season’s races — with a non-points finish too — and still clinch the title. If coronavirus restrictions shorten the season, then he’s in an even stronger position.
A run of poor reliability — or contact with other cars — poses the major risk to Hamilton’s title prospects. And it shouldn’t be dismissed. Remember 2016?
When can Lewis Hamilton win the 2020 F1 championship?
Fresh from equalling the all-time win record held by Michael Schumacher, Lewis Hamilton has all the momentum in the title race and could go on to match the German’s seven world championships as well.
Even if Bottas wins all of the remaining races, Hamilton only needs to add another 88 points to his current total by the end of the season to be sure of his seventh title. He could do so with a series of second- and third-place finishes. Few would bet against him standing on the top step of the podium again this year, however, which would probably end Bottas’ hopes sooner.
Round 13, Imola, 1 November
At the very earliest, Hamilton could clinch the 2020 F1 title at Imola providing all of the luck falls his way between now and then. It would require a double helping of misfortune for Bottas resulting in two non-scores in Portimao and Imola, provided Hamilton notches up at least 36 points across both rounds. It would put him out of reach with four races and a maximum 104 points remaining.
Round 14, Istanbul, 15 November
For the title to be settled in Turkey, Hamilton would have to outscore Bottas by a total of 10 points over the next three races in Portimao, Imola and Istanbul. If Bottas can’t keep the gap below 79 points leaving Turkey, it would be over for him in 2020.
Hamilton has finished ahead of Bottas in eight of this season’s 11 races. If that ratio continues, he will more than likely be crowned in mid-November.
Round 15, Bahrain, 29 November
By the end of the first of this year’s two races in Bahrain, you’d have to expect the title race to be over. If you handed both Mercedes driver two wins and two fastest laps apiece over the next four races, Hamilton’s 318 points would be enough.
Even tipping the scales in Bottas’ favour would not prevent the championship being decided. Three wins for him versus one for Hamilton and a second and third-place finish for the current leader would still be enough for Hamilton to claim the 2020 crown heading into the second of the Bahrain races.
Can Valtteri Bottas win the 2020 F1 championship?
It is growing into mission impossible but Valtteri Bottas still technically has a chance to win the 2020 Formula 1 championship, it’s just going to take a lot of luck. He has already said he will not give up in his efforts to win this year, but it might already be too little too late, with just six rounds remaining and a 69-point gap to make up.
Very much the underdog in the title battle, could Bottas use that to his advantage in any way? It’s going to take some magical results for the Finn to get himself back into a position and chance of the 2020 crown.
Bottas could go into peak-career form and win all of the remaining races but it still wouldn’t be enough if Hamilton makes the podium in each of them. Really, Bottas needs his team-mate to suffer similar misfortune as he himself did at the Nürburgring to close down the gap as quickly as possible to leave himself with enough races to overhaul the 69-point deficit.
Should Bottas win the remaining races, he’d need the fastest lap points as well and hope there’s a P4 or lower finish for Hamilton in there somewhere, with his team-mate finishing third or lower in the remaining races. If somehow the season were to finish tied up in the standings, Bottas would have to win all six of the remaining races to win on countback: eight wins to Hamilton’s seven.
While Bottas in reality has to go on a serious winning streak, he doesn’t have much to lose in that respect, so are we set to see a more aggressive driver like on the opening lap of the Eifel GP? His efforts in catching his team-mate off guard with a great defence of first place in wheel-to-wheel combat suggests so.
Forcing Hamilton to play the percentages could be the best bet for Bottas, providing he doesn’t suffer a DNF himself in the process, as that really would be the final nail in the coffin for his title hopes.