After missing out on his sixth drivers’ title last weekend, Lewis Hamilton will have another chance to wrap up the championship this weekend as Formula 1 heads to Texas for the United States Grand Prix.
Circuit of the Americas hosts the 19th race of the season, and its eighth since joining the calendar in 2012.
Just three drivers have won at this track since it opened – all of whom will be in action on Sunday.
3 Legs 4 Wheels looks ahead to the weekend:
Last year’s race:
Hamilton was also on the verge of wrapping up the title when F1 came to Austin last year, and it everything seemed to be going to plan for the Mercedes driver when he qualified on pole position.
However, it was Kimi Raikkonen who took the lead early on, ultimately giving him his first win in over five years, and Ferrari’s first at COTA.
There was a strong charge through the field from Max Verstappen to take second, with the Red Bull driver having started 18th due to issues in qualifying.
It was a strong race for Renault, with Nico Hulkenberg and Carlos Sainz finishing sixth and seventh respectively, but Esteban Ocon and Kevin Magnussen were both disqualified for breaching fuel regulations.
In total, four drivers failed to finish the race, leaving just 14 classified finishers.
COTA’s layout pays tribute to a number of other F1 circuits, including Silverstone, Interlagos and Istanbul. The track is 5.513km long, and features 20 corners.
Come and take it. pic.twitter.com/813GclC2ih
— Circuit of The Americas (@COTA) October 29, 2019
Two DRS zones are being used for this race. The first has a detection point between turns 10 and 11, and can be activated after the 11th corner, with the second measured just before turn 19 to be used over the start/finish line.
Hamilton set the race lap record during last year’s race with a time of 1:37.392. The only change since then sees resurfacing at turns 9 and 10, with the track layout otherwise unaltered from 2018.
Pirelli brings its middle three compounds to this race, with most of the front runners opting for eight sets of the C4 softs. The only exception is Charles Leclerc, who has nine sets of softs. Renault are the only team going with 10 of the softest compound.
The selections give Red Bull more mediums than any other team on the grid, while Ferrari are the only team splitting their drivers’ softs strategy.
Last year, Raikkonen’s ability to make the one-stop strategy work handed him the win, while Verstappen made his way through the field by switching the hardest tyre on at the start of the race and finishing on the softer rubber. Hamilton was the only points finisher to try a two-top, but finished two places lower than he lined up on the grid.
Nico Rosberg headed into the 2015 United States Grand Prix knowing he needed a good result to deny his Mercedes teammate the drivers’ title. The German was ahead for most of the race, but a mistake on lap 48 handed Hamilton the victory, and his third world championship.
The aftermath of the race is perhaps what’s best remembered though, as Rosberg didn’t take kindly to Hamilton handing him the 2nd-placed Pirelli cap ahead of the podium ceremony, only for Rosberg to launch the cap back across the cooldown room at the British driver.
Statistics and form:
Just three drivers have stood on the top step at Circuit of the Americas – Lewis Hamilton, Kimi Raikkonen and Sebastian Vettel. Hamilton is the only driver to have won at this track more than once, having secured victory at five of the seven previous runnings at this venue.
Ferrari made a strong start to the second half of the season after the summer shutdown, but Mercedes have now won three races in a row, with both drivers on the rostrum at every race since Russia.
If Valtteri Bottas wins this weekend, Hamilton will only need to be eighth to take the title. He defending champion brings a 74-point advantage to the race, with a maximum of 78 points available at the final three races of the season.
Ferrari remain the dominant team in qualifying though, starting from 1st for the last five races, although pole position at Mexico was gifted to the Italian team due to Max Verstappen’s penalty. No driver has ever won from lower than second at COTA, so Saturday pace could be decisive.
Verstappen took his first podium at COTA in 2018, having previously had difficulties at this track with penalties and track limits. Having gone into the summer break as perhaps the form driver, the Dutch driver has only had one podium since Hungary, and has been outscored by rookie teammate Alexander Albon since the Thai driver was promoted from Toro Rosso.
Sergio Perez was the best of the rest last time out, and has point finishes in all but two of the races to take place at this track. McLaren’s Carlos Sainz tends to go well in Austin though, having never finished lower than 7th at this circuit, so it looks set to be a competitive midfield battle.
Excluding back markers Williams, American team Haas come into this race in the worst form on the grid. Romain Grosjean has the longest run without points on the grid behind rookie George Russell, while Magnussen ninth in Russia is the team’s only top 10 finish since the German Grand Prix. They’ll be hoping to turn things around in front of their home crowd this weekend.
Hear more of our thoughts ahead of this race by listening to this week’s podcast or watching back our live stream on YouTube. You can also join in our podium predictions game and see who we think could be on the top step on Sunday. Join us during qualifying and on race day for our live blogs, and get in touch via Twitter or Facebook to let us know what you think of the action in Austin.