British born Lewis Hamilton is set to walk away from this weekend’s United States F1 Grand Prix at the Circuit of the Americas after driving his German branded F1 car to a finish that will give him his sixth F1 driver’s championship. He comes to Austin, in Texas, with a need of just four points in order to hoist the trophy triumphantly above his head. Fresh from the team’s 100th F1 win after the Mexico round, he needs to finish eighth or above to ensure that it will be his hands, not his team mate’s, on the prize. Valtteri Bottas is a mathematical chance of claiming the title, however, and Motorsport being what it is, and as was demonstrated in high clarity at Mexico, Hamilton was no certainty and was indeed lucky to have taken the win.
History will be on the Briton’s side. He’s had eight starts for six wins. Bottas? Six and zero. Podiums for Hamilton? Seven. Bottas sees another zero. Pole positions are also in his favour, with four, and an egg for the Finn. Hamilton’s also started from the front row seven times, whereas Bottas has….zero.
There’d be no doubt at all that one man in particular will be looking to make a better job of the COTA than Mexico. That man is Max Verstappen. After throwing away a pole position, then having a tire delaminate after contact with Bottas forcing him through to the rear of the grid, the young Dutchman showed class and maturity not always shown to claw his way back to 6th at race end last weekend. However, he’s also seen as a driver to avoid. Bottas says: “But yeah, Max, it’s very likely you’re going to come together with Max if you don’t give him extra space, so most of the time you do.” The same thoughts come from Sebastian Vettel when asked: “No, just copy-paste what Hamilton said. It’s true.” Regarded as one of the most talented drivers in the current listings, it’s widely felt that his downfall is what could be seen as being impetuous. Mexico certainly offered clues to that.
Ferrari also will be looking at last weekend for clues on how to improve for this weekend. Vettel drove a superb race at Mexico, as did Charles Leclerc. But once again team orders seemed to favour one over the other. As Leclerc points out: “Starting a race from pole and not finishing first is always disappointing. All in all, it’s a shame but if there is something I can learn from today it is to try to help the team more with my feedback from inside the car so that we can make the best call together.” Vettel agreed, with: “Obviously, we can’t be pleased with this result, because when you start from the front row, as a team, you expect to win. ”
Pit stop strategies and the handling of the wheel nut guns would also be a focal point. A number of teams seemed to have issues, including a resurgent McLaren. As Lando Norris points out: “I think we had a wheel nut cross-threaded at my stop, I’m not too sure, but the team decided to play safe by immediately stopping the car and bring it back to check it. ” Alfa Romeo’s Antonio Giovinnazi was dropped off the lifting jack, and was lucky not to have had damage to his car. His mid pack contention was then taken out of his hands, with the likable Italian driver pushed back through the field.
This weekend’s race is on a circuit noted for its technicalities. There are twenty turns, the third highest amount and shared with the Baku track. The first turn sees a rise of thirty meters in just two hundred meters, making it the highest elevation change of any F1 circuit. It’s unusual in that it’s one of only five circuits that run anti-clockwise, and is also a high “G-force” circuit, with turn 6 seeing forces of up to 5 G, or five times the weight, being pushed upon the body of a driver. turn 12 can see up to 538G under braking, making a driver weighing 70kg feel as if they weigh 400kg. There are 56 laps at this track…
Each lap is 5.513 kilometers for a total length of 308.405 kilometers. The fastest lap record is held by Hamilton, set last year and at 1:37.392. The first laps in anger are Friday, November 1, at 11:00 local time, with qualifying at 16:00 on Saturday, with the race start scheduled for 13:10 local on Sunday November 3rd.