A modern classic: Five things that could define the US Grand Prix
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Johannesburg - The spectre of 2005 at Indianapolis still hangs over the United States Grand Prix, but it is a reputation that the Circuit of the Americas is rectifying lap by lap.
Here, we look at five things that could define the race this weekend.
There should be no grid penalties for the leading teams this weekend in Austin.
In Turkey, Lewis Hamilton took a 10-grid penalty when he used a fourth power unit, ultimately finishing fifth.
In the previous race, the Russian Grand Prix, Max Verstappen started from the back of the grid when he also took a penalty for an engine change.
Both Ferraris have new power units as well, and will now have the best possible power available to them on a track that is all about that specific aspect of the car.
For the Scuderia, in particular, it is a massive advantage as they seek to overhaul McLaren in the constructors’ championship.
Carlos Sainz Jr and Charles Leclerc could well be in the hunt for a podium place, even though the track should cater to the package of their great rivals.
The ‘best of the rest’ battle between the two teams might be the tastiest tussle on track this weekend.
A modern classic?
The Circuit of the Americas has dished up some entertaining racing in recent seasons – both 2019 and 2018 had wheel-to-wheel action into the final laps of the race.
It is not the fastest track on the calendar but still offers an advantage to those who rely on power to muscle their way through the layout.
There are two DRS zones, the first after turn 11 that exits on a 1km long main straight and terminates on the 90° turn 12 where the majority of overtaking takes place.
The second is on the shorter main straight that turns into an elevated corner.
Turns three to eight are breathtakingly fast corners, and hark back to Silverstone.
Pole is arguably not the most ideal position to start from, as there is a huge bump on this side of the track when turning into the first corner, and drivers will move over to take a tighter line there.
The big rumour this week is that Michael Andretti was spotted inspecting Sauber’s factory – the home of Alfa Romeo.
There have been suggestions that the American race team owner is interested in buying a stake in the team, and that they will be participating in F1 as early as next year.
The US desperately needs an F1 driver, and although this is technically Haas’s home track, they have done very little to introduce an American into their team.
Andretti’s involvement will possibly end that particular concern. He was seen inspecting Sauber’s factory in Switzerland earlier this week ... could we possibly see him in Alfa’s garage during the remainder of the season?
We’re in this together
Hamilton versus Verstappen has been awesome to watch and has done wonders for the profile of the sport this year.
As gripping as their battle has been, who wins the drivers’ championship might come down to their teammates, Valtteri Bottas and Sergio Perez.
As seen in Turkey, and despite the Silver Arrows opting for discretion instead of valour with regards to Hamilton’s race strategy, it was a magnificent drive by
Bottas that limited the damage to his teammate’s championship ambitions.
If ever there was a time to step up and play the team game, it is from now onwards as we head to the last six races of the season and an exciting conclusion.
This is the US
This is a Mercedes track, no doubt about it.
Since 2012, they have won six of the eight races hosted in Austin; 2013 and 2018 the only aberrations in their dominance.
Due to the power demand on the engines, they should enjoy a level of supremacy the entire weekend.
Turkey gave us glimpses of just how much faster they are than Red Bull.
With the next races in Mexico and Brazil more advantageous to their rivals, Mercedes and Hamilton must make the most of their supremacy on Sunday to close the gap, or even overtake Verstappen, in the championship with a powerful display.