Austin, Texas hosts the next round on the Formula 1 calendar with all eyes on Lewis Hamilton and Sebastian Vettel ahead of a potential title showdown.
Hamilton can win his fourth Formula 1 championship at the US Grand Prix putting all of the pressure on Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel to bounce back from a horrid run over the Asian races.
Sitting 59 points clear, Hamilton needs to win and have Vettel finish lower than fifth to claim the silverware. There’s a lot at stake and it all takes place at one of the best circuits in the world right next to one of America’s most enjoyable cities.
Competitive Race Expected at COTA
Such is the unpredictable nature of Formula 1 this season that Ferrari have spectacularly collapsed over the last three races in Singapore, Malaysia and Japan.
It wasn’t so long ago that Vettel was actually leading the title race after the Belgium Grand Prix. Now he only has an outside chance of edging past Hamilton.
The good news for Vettel is that Mercedes shouldn’t be as dominate at the Circuit of the Americas, or COTA as it’s called, like they were in 2012, ‘14, ‘15 and ‘16. This year, the Ferrari is a much more well-rounded car – in fact, it is arguably the best car among the paddock – and the warmer weather expected in Texas typically favors the Prancing Horse. The next race in Mexico is also better suited to the Ferrari setup and if Vettel can hang in at COTA, then it’s realistic that the title will come down to the last race or two.
“I am not believing in luck in general, as a principle, but you know maybe here and there things didn’t go our way,” said Vettel.
“But what can happen to us, can happen to other people as well. I’m not wishing to anyone. But it’s part of racing. To do the season without any retirements is quite rare. To have two, three or more is not good.”
Hamilton also knows it’s a long-shot to expect Ferrari to retire again and is keeping firmly focused on the task at hand admitting that “nothing has changed” in the way he is approaching the weekend.
“I anticipate [Ferrari] will be very strong here and for the next four races. That is why nothing changes for me. I just have to keep the pressure on.”
“There’s still a long way to go. 100 points is a lot of points. Anything can happen in life. I’ve just got to try and keep my head down and hopefully continue to perform like this – but I feel very, very fortunate and really blessed and I’m enjoying the experience.”
Alonso Extends Contract at McLaren
After months of speculation, Fernando Alonso has finally confirmed that he will be racing with McLaren in 2018.
Alonso is said to have signed a one year contract with the Formula 1 veteran believing that the new engine deal with Renault will make the team more competitive.
After three miserable seasons using Honda engines, the McLaren cars simply lacked speed and reliability to be a genuine contender at any race. The Spaniard was said to be one of the main instigators of the engine manufacturer switch but is now looking forward to the next campaign.
“Although the last few years have not been easy, we have never forgotten how to win, and I believe we can achieve that again soon.”
“McLaren has the technical resource and financial strength to be able to very quickly win races and world championships in F1.”
“The last three years have given us the momentum to plan and build for the future, and I’m looking forward to that journey.”
Driver Changes at US Grand Prix
Spectators can expect to see some changes in the driver’s seats this weekend. Carlos Sainz has now moved from Torro Rosso to Renault on a loan deal to replace Jolyon Palmer. At Torro Rosso, Daniil Kyvat has been recalled – after being dropped only weeks ago – to step in for Pierre Gasly who is remaining in Japan to focus on winning the Super Formula series this weekend. Also starting at Torro Rosso will be New Zealander Brendon Hartley who was a Red Bull junior in 2010 and since honed his craft in Porsche’s WEC machinery.
“It’s been a pretty crazy week and it all happened quite quickly,” Hartley noted.
“I’ve grown a lot as driver. It’s going to be a busy week but I’m looking forward to it.”