What does Lewis Hamilton need to beat Nico Rosberg to F1 title?
Does he need to win the five race remaining races in 2016, or could Hamilton be saved by some bad luck for his Mercedes team-mate?
By Matt Morlidge
Last Updated: 06/10/16 2:48am
Lewis Hamilton has a mountain to climb after falling 23 points behind Mercedes team-mate Nico Rosberg in the title race with just five races remaining.
"I have no idea what's going to happen in these next five races," Hamilton said. "Be as focused as I can possibly be, put in performances like I have done this weekend, and pray that the car holds together."
How many wins does he need?
To put it simply, the only way Hamilton can guarantee sealing a fourth world title is by winning the final five Grands Prix - which would be one of the most sensational and dramatic streaks in history.
How unlucky has Hamilton been?
Four victories and one second-place finish would not be enough were Rosberg to triumph on the weekend his team-mate falters. In that scenario, the Brit would be stranded on 383 points, the German on 385.
We've already covered their records at the remaining circuits, with Hamilton seeming to have the edge at the next three in particular, but their 2016 form - mechanical failures and crashes aside - must also be taken into consideration.
Rosberg has scored an average of 18 points this season, while his average finishing position, taking out his one retirement in Spain, is 2.4 thanks to his eight victories.
Nico and Lewis in 2016, and what they require to win the 2016 world title
|Nico Rosberg||Lewis Hamilton|
|Average points per race||18||16.5|
|Average finishing pos.*||2.4||2.3|
|Points needed to guarantee title||103||125|
|What would be enough?||1st, 2nd, 2nd, 2nd, 2nd||1st, 1st, 1st, 1st, 1st|
Such consistency is incredibly unlikely in Formula 1, especially if this season is anything to go by, but were Rosberg to finish second in all of the remaining five races, he would end with a total score of 378 points. That would be much more than a Drivers' Championship runner-up has ever accumulated before.
And if Rosberg did in fact reach this tally, Hamilton would need at least four victories to claim a fourth world title. Even in that case, he would need a third-place finish in the final race to reach 380 points.
Hamilton has a mountain to climb but the aim for the world champion must be to forget about permutations and complete the job himself by winning the next five. He does, at least, have experience of such a streak - having won from Italy to USA in 2014 - but this would be far more impressive.
Of course, a season-ending winning run would be highly unlikely if Hamilton was to suffer any more mechanical glitches. Worryingly for the Brit, Mercedes could offer "no explanation" to why the problems only appear to be affecting him and couldn't guarantee that they won't happen again.
However, one thing that team principal Toto Wolff was sure about was that Hamilton's two remaining power units, one fresh and one three races old, should mean there is no need for a second grid penalty.
Still, Hamilton is understandably agitated, even offering to miss out on practice sessions to save his engines.
"Right now, my concern is I've got these two engines and I want them to make sure to treat them with whatever they can to make sure they both last," he said.
"If that means not doing a session, I will not do the session. Just let me know what I've got to do because I'll do whatever it takes to be able to see through the races."
That's not a scenario Wolff would be comfortable with, nor would it be one Hamilton should actively pursue. His lack of Friday running in Singapore culminated in one of his sloppiest weekends of the season.
Sky F1's Martin Brundle did attempt to offer some sort of an explanation for Hamilton's problems, ruling out wild conspiracy claims, installation problems and driving style. That would only leave bad luck.
Whatever it is, it needs to stop from Hamilton's point of view. He has suffered five specific instances of debilitating unreliability this year and he can surely afford no more.
Problems for Nico?
One way Hamilton may not need the maximum 25 points in every race would be if Rosberg also suffered failures.
"There's a lot of time left - some bad luck is going to come Nico's way," Damon Hill, the 1996 world champion, said on Sky Sports News HQ.
But bad luck for Rosberg or not, Hamilton can still win the title with five successive wins. Such a winning streak has happened before, most notably in 2014 for the Briton, so could it happen again?