Preview: F1 ready for Austintatious display

Preview: F1 ready for Austintatious display

18 October 2017 – Formula 1 heads Stateside for the first of another intense back-to-back sequence, starting at the popular Circuit of the Americas. GPUpdate.net previews this weekend's event and provides the key statistics.

Austin:

The Circuit of the Americas (COTA) opened in 2012 as Formula 1 finally sought a permanent, specially-built home after years of false dawns and wasted potential.

The track won rave reviews for its Silverstone-esque 'Esses' section, featuring high-speed directional changes, while the breath-taking ascent to the Turn 1 hairpin received acclaim.

"First you brake on the very wide track uphill into Turn 1," explains Romain Grosjean, whose Haas team will be on home soil.

"You then have tricky traction going downhill through sector one. It's very high speed – very similar to Silverstone. Here you try to carry some good speed.

"Then you go to the hairpin before the backstraight, again you want good traction here.

"There's very big braking at the end. Then there's a very tight section with a double right corner. After that it's a long left hairpin, with tricky braking, then a full right-hand side corner, almost flat out in qualifying.

"Then it's the two mid-speed final turns, which are pretty interesting, going down into the first one, and the second one going up again before you finish the lap."

Form guide:

Lewis Hamilton has surged towards a fourth world title through four pole positions and four victories in the five Grands Prix since the sport's summer break.

Hamilton has amassed 118 points from the 125 available points, turning a 14-point deficit into a 59-point advantage over Sebastian Vettel.

Vettel's own title bid has been all-but-demolished amid a disastrous Asian spell for himself and Ferrari, in which incidents and reliability woes derailed his prospects.

Hamilton can clinch the title in Austin if he out-scores Vettel by 16 points and team-mate Valtteri Bottas by three.

To do so, Hamilton needs to win, with Vettel sixth or lower, or come second, with Vettel ninth or lower, and Bottas not taking the victor's trophy.

While Hamilton requires a specific set of circumstances to go his way, Mercedes' chances of clinching its fourth straight Constructors' crown are brighter; it merely needs to ensure that it is not out-scored by Ferrari by 17 points.

Its omens are good – five Grands Prix have previously been held on October 22 and on each occasion a championship has been decided…

Ferrari, meanwhile, has slipped closer to Red Bull, after its own dismal spell and the latter's resurgence, the teams now separated by 92 points.

Force India is safe in a comfortable fourth position after another double points result in Japan, courtesy of Esteban Ocon and Sergio Pérez.

Williams holds fifth, with Toro Rosso sixth, the latter handing a debut to Le Mans victor Brendon Hartley, and bringing Daniil Kvyat back in from the cold.

Haas heads into its home event off the back of a double points finish, which lifted it above Renault, the manufacturer preparing to welcome Carlos Sainz Jr., ahead of his full-time 2018 seat.

McLaren failed to add to its tally on Honda's turf, leaving it a lonely ninth, with Sauber marooned at the back, still without a point since June.

Current grid at the United States GP:

Hamilton is comfortably the most successful active driver in the United States, having been beaten only once in six starts in the country, across events at Indianapolis at COTA.

Hamilton beat Fernando Alonso to victory on Indianapolis' swansong in 2007, and passed Sebastian Vettel (in 2012) and Nico Rosberg (in 2014) to triumph at COTA.

Hamilton, in a crazy wet/dry race in 2015, clinched his third world title with victory after a late Rosberg error, and last year claimed another win at the venue.

Vettel is the only other driver on the grid to have triumphed at the United States Grand Prix, during his dominant spell at the end of 2013.

One driver, though, has 2017 success at COTA already on his résumé – STR newcomer Hartley captured victory for Porsche upon the World Endurance Championship's visit to the venue last month.

Repeat United States GP winners:

5 Michael Schumacher – 2000, 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006
   Lewis Hamilton – 2007, 2012, 2014, 2015, 2016
3 Graham Hill – 1963, 1964, 1965
   Jim Clark – 1962, 1966, 1967
2 Sir Jackie Stewart – 1968, 1972
   James Hunt – 1976, 1977
   Carlos Reutemann – 1974, 1978
   Ayrton Senna – 1990, 1991

Factfile:

Venue: Circuit of the Americas
Direction: Anti-Clockwise
Turns: 20
Laps: 56
Race date: October 22, 2017
Circuit opened: 2012
First Grand Prix: 2012
Lap record: 1:39:347 (Sebastian Vettel, 2012)
Circuit length: 5.513 km (3.427 mi)
Race distance: 308.405 km (191.939 mi)

2017 timetable (GMT -5):
Friday 20 October
Practice 1 10:00-11:30 local time
Practice 2 14:00-15:30 local time

Saturday 21 October
Practice 3 11:00-12:00 local time
Qualifying 16:00 local time

Sunday 22 October
Race 14:00 local time

Additional on-track events:
F4 US Championship
Masters Historic Formula 1

Driver steward: Mika Salo

DRS zones: Main straight, back straight

Pitlane speed limit:
80 km/h (49.7 mph) for the entire event

Tyre Choice: Ultra Soft / Super Soft / Soft
Fuel usage: 1.88kg per lap
Top speed: 328 km/h (204 mph)
Full throttle: 63 per cent of lap
Gear changes: 65 per lap

Weather forecast:
Friday - Sunny spells with showers, high 26°C / low 20°C
Saturday - Sunny spells with showers, high 29°C / low 22°C
Sunday - Sunny spells with showers high 26°C / low 19°C

Next race:
Mexican Grand Prix

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