US Grand Prix Betting: Wizard Hamilton keeps chasing records

Michael Schumacher and Lewis Hamilton
Michael Schumacher has always been an idol of Lewis Hamilton

Lewis Hamilton might be tempted to sit back and relax in Austin, Texas but James Gray reckons he is still hungry for more...

"Hamilton has won five of the seven races held in Austin and is worthy of being a 15/8 race favourite"

Perhaps we should not expect Lewis Hamilton to do things at the right time. To misquote a certain fictional wizard, "a world champion is never late, nor is he early, he arrives precisely when he means to".

In this case, Hamilton means to win in Austin and lift the long-anointed title in what might accurately be described as his second-favourite country. There is almost nothing anyone can do to stop him, unless Valtteri Bottas wins the race and manages to sabotage Hamilton's car overnight. The Brit is just four points from a sixth world title and reward for those who backed him at 6/5 before the season started to win it all.

Hamilton will soon write his own history

Triumph in Austin, whether from first, fifth or 10th, will bring Hamilton up to six world titles. He will edge ahead of Juan Manuel Fangio, go two clear of Sebastian Vettel and Alain Prost and three of the likes of Ayrton Senna and his great late friend Niki Lauda.

But most of all, he will be one closer to Michael Schumacher. When the German sealed his seventh in 2004, most assumed that he would never be surpassed and given he was the only active driver with multiple world titles to his name, it was not an unreasonable point of view.

However, just 15 years later Hamilton is closing in and by this time on Monday he could be just one world title away from equalling Schumacher. The future of F1 is uncertain but Hamilton will have a major role to play and he will have need for no motivation more than catching the man still regarded as the greatest of all time.

In Merc we trust

The Circuit of the Americas itself is an unusual one, with its flowing snake of a first sector, one-kilometre and technical, low-speed final section. Heavy braking zones are a rarity but the two long straights should make overtaking possible as long as cars are able to follow closely through S-bends of the first sector. Last year, Max Verstappen started 18th and finished second.

Hamilton has a phenomenal record here, winning five of the seven races held in Austin, to suggest that he is worthy of being a 15/8 race favourite. The Mercedes has not always been the quickest car this year but they have repeatedly found ways to win when the lap-times have been against them. Ferrari's speed - they are still the fastest in a straight line - should give them the edge on the back straight but the form book means nothing to the enigmatic Italians, who are 11/10 to produce the winning driver, narrowly ahead of Mercedes at 5/4.

Verstappen meanwhile arrives back in Texas, the scene of a classic comeback drive 12 months ago, in the kind of form that has seen Alexander Albon outscore him since joining Red Bull's senior team. The Dutchman was far from perfect in Mexico and has little to recommend him this weekend at 11/2 for the win, barring a remarkable few days; somehow, Albon at 80/1 is more tempting.

The search for a home favourite

We have not seen an American drive an F1 car in anger much in the 21st century - Alexander Rossi's five drives for Marussia in 2015 and Scott Speed's failure to live up to his name for a season-and-a-half at Toro Rosso are pretty much it.

So if the home crowd are looking for an excuse to wave their flags - and American sports fans need no second invitation - they will have to get creative.

Haas, despite their Banbury base, are a US team at heart and this is their home race. But to characterise their outing in Mexico as 'difficult' as their in-house race preview does is something of an understatement. The team struggle with downforce enough as it is, so to take them to altitude where grip is even more at a premium seems almost unfair.

It should be an even greater worry that Williams, perennial whipping boys at present, believe they have caught up with Haas in terms of pace and George Russell qualified within two tenths of a second of Romain Grosjean and then beat him in the race. Without a slow puncture, Robert Kubica would have beaten them all.

There is a very real danger that Haas, who are going backwards, will finish last at their home Grand Prix. It says a lot that Grosjean leads the markets at 9/4 to fail to finish the race and 9/1 to be the first to exit proceedings.

It will probably leave the Americans looking to their adopted son Hamilton for some glory, and no matter what, they will get some. The Brit, who is now officially based in Monaco, owns at least one and perhaps two properties in America and even his accent is starting to sound distinctly mid-Atlantic. Fortunately, he's in some form.

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