The U.S. Grand Prix is less than a month away but the Formula One title is likely to be decided long before the series returns to North America.
Red Bull's Sebastian Vettel is all but certain to have clinched his fourth consecutive world championship by Nov. 17, when the U.S. race is held at the Circuit of the Americas track in Austin, Texas.
In fact, the 26-year-old German is likely to clinch Sunday at the Indian Grand Prix at the Buddh International Circuit just south of New Delhi.
Vettel, with a commanding 90-point lead over second-place Fernando Alonso of Ferrari, needs only to finish fifth or better Sunday to win the title, regardless of how Alonso finishes. And Vettel won the two prior races in India in 2011 and 2012.
It's hard to understate Vettel's dominance again this year. He's won nine of the series' 15 races so far, including the last five consecutive events. Put another way, Vettel has not lost a race since July 28, when Lewis Hamilton won the Hungarian Grand Prix.
There are four races left in the season. After India the series moves to Abu Dhabi on Nov. 3, then Austin -- where Hamilton won the track's inaugural race last year, with Vettel finishing second -- before ending the year Nov. 24 in Brazil.
With a fourth driver's championship, Vettel would tie Alain Prost with four career titles, third highest in series history behind Michael Schumacher with seven and Juan Manuel Fangio with five.