The Belgian GP debate: Can Lewis Hamilton still win the 2013 World Championship?

Sky F1's Ted Kravitz and David Croft debate Lewis' title chances

Last Updated: 22/08/13 12:12pm

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Ahead of this weekend's Belgian GP, Sky Sports News' Craig Slater joined Ted and Crofty at Spa's legendary Eau Rouge corner to debate whether Lewis' win in Hungary means he should now be considered a title rival to Sebastian Vettel - and just how strong a contender he really is.

Crofty: "Lewis is quick, he's had pole position for the last three races; he's got that win out of the way now. There's none of the pressure of, 'When are you going to get your first win for your new team?' surrounding Lewis Hamilton at the moment. He's spent all summer training hard and getting ready for a fight he will take to Sebastian Vettel - and he will be in the quickest car. So why can't he win?"

Ted: "Because, point number one, Mercedes GP were always targeting next year, 2014, as their best chance of a title challenge. They were never thinking they'd be in a position to challenge for the World Championship this year, so they're already focusing on next year. We know that.

"Point number two, in order for Lewis Hamilton to close the gap on Sebastian Vettel, he needs to outscore him by 5.3 points per race. The only way he'll outscore him by 5.3 points per race is to win the race and for Vettel to be second. That's very difficult to do. The difference between second and third, of course, is only three points and then it gets less and less as you go down the table. So it's very difficult for Lewis Hamilton to outscore Vettel by that margin per race until the end of the season. I hope I'm wrong, but I don't think I am."

Crofty: "But Ted, he's got a wingman in Nico Rosberg who's going to be taking points off Sebastian Vettel as well. We're here at Spa: it's a power track and it suits Mercedes. We go to Monza, also a power track that suits Mercedes. If Lewis Hamilton wins that, then Sebastian Vettel's backside is going to be squeakier than it will be going through Eau Rouge in this race!"

What about DNFs?

Ted: "You can always have DNFs but Vettel's luck tends to improve when he gets to the Asian races. It'll not get any worse, as we've seen in previous years. He feeds off the energy in Japan and Korea, in India and Abu Dhabi. He's been almost untouchable at those locations and I think Red Bull know that they want to secure this fourth consecutive World Championship. They're not focusing on 2014, they're focusing on 2013. It's a different shift between Red Bull and Mercedes: one is concentrating on this year, one is concentrating on the other."

Crofty: "I'll take your point on that one. But for most of this year, Mercedes have been concentrating on making their car slower. It's the fastest car on the grid but it overworks its tyres; they've been trying to take some of the speed out to save the tyres. Now they understand the tyres, now the tyres have changed and it suits them a little bit better, they can get back to what they've been doing best: making that car much quicker. I tell you, Red Bull are in for a shock."

Ted: "Two names: Kimi Raikkonen and Fernando Alonso! How are they going to come into it? They'll be in there taking points off Hamilton as well. Kimi Raikkonen doesn't deliver in qualifying because the car isn't really up to it - Hamilton, I'll take your point, is the strongest in qualifying along with Rosberg - but Raikkonen is a points vacuum cleaner. He just sucks up the points in a race. He will be there, taking points off Lewis Hamilton."

Crofty: "Fine Ted, you've made my argument for me: he takes them off Sebastian Vettel. Job done, Lewis is Champion. Thank you very much."

Ted and Crofty have had their say but what do you think? Fill in the comments section to let us know.

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