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Formula 1 Preview: United States Grand Prix

Written by Marcus Woodhouse, Edited by Meghana Sree

Image Credits: Mark Thompson/Getty Images

Formula 1 returns this weekend, in the Land of the Free, as the Circuit of The Americas plays host to the second of three Grands Prix in America this year. With both championships wrapped up now and less to lose for the drivers, be prepared to witness some unpredictable and dramatic racing on Sunday. Nevertheless, the final standings are still very much up in the air further down the order, so certainly don’t expect dead rubber of any sort.

Circuit Guide

Image Credit: Formula One

COTA (The Circuit of The Americas) begins with grandeur, as the drivers accelerate uphill to the endlessly wide Turn One. A treacherous section of high-speed S Curves follows, not dissimilar to those at Silverstone or Suzuka, before a DRS (Drag Reduction System) zone between Turns 11 and 12. The next few corners represent a throwback to corresponding corners at Hockenheim, until we eventually reach another DRS zone across the start-finish line.

Weekend Format

We have yet another Sprint format this weekend, combined with later timings than usual for European viewers, so pay attention to the schedule below.

Schedule (in BST)

Practice 1 - Friday, 18:30 pm

Qualifying - Friday, 22:00 pm

Sprint Shootout - Saturday, 18:30 pm

Sprint - Saturday, 23:00 pm

Race - Sunday, 20:00 pm

Weather Forecast

Austin, Texas looks to be scorching as ever throughout the Grand Prix, so expect skyrocketing track temperatures this weekend. There are no real chances of rain at all.

Major Talking Points

  • McLaren Magic - Can the team in papaya build on a hugely impressive Sprint victory for Oscar Piastri and the achievement of three podiums in a row for Lando Norris, by taking the full race win at COTA?

  • Mercedes Teammate Troubles - Will the first-lap collision between Lewis Hamilton and George Russell have soured their relationship at all, or can they move on as a team and achieve success this weekend?

  • Ricciardo’s Return - The Australian driver makes his long-awaited return to the grid, in place of the impressive fill-in Liam Lawson, and hopes to bring a performance proving that he deserves an F1 seat for the coming years.

The Circuit of The Americas in Years Gone By

Image Credit: Mark Thompson/Getty Images

The Circuit of The Americas burst onto the F1 scene back in 2012, instantly setting the scene for Hamilton’s last win for McLaren preceding his 2013 shock move to Mercedes. Since then, we have seen a titanic duel between Mercedes teammates Hamilton and Nico Rosberg in 2015, culminating in a petty exchange of thrown caps in the cooldown room. That room saw more drama in 2017, when Max Verstappen was stripped of his podium due to a post-race penalty, meaning that Kimi Raikkonen was sent to swap places with him right in front of the TV cameras. Lastly, plenty of epic duels have taken place at COTA, including Verstappen vs Hamilton in 2018, a three-way battle in 2021 between Ricciardo, Norris, and Carlos Sainz, and a tussle at the top in 2022 involving Verstappen and Charles Leclerc.

Last Race Recap

Two weeks ago, F1 headed to the sands of Qatar, and the weekend was jam-packed with action. Verstappen took pole on Friday ahead of the Mercedes pair, but both McLarens were unfortunate to be hit by post-session penalties for track limits. The next day, it was Piastri who took a hugely impressive maiden victory in Saturday’s Sprint, kicking on from a McLaren 1-2 in the earlier Sprint Shootout. Then on Sunday, after the Mercedes drivers hit each other at Turn One, Verstappen couldn’t be caught but it was still a double podium for McLaren, while Russell made an impressive recovery to P4.

Drivers to Watch

Image Credits: Dan Istitene/Getty Images

Lando Norris - High Time

If there was a driver who deserved a race win this weekend, it would have to be Norris. While his teammate was on hand at the Qatar Grand Prix to take victory in the Sprint, and it’s clear that McLaren can now challenge Red Bull at the very front, it is high time that the British driver showcases his skills and takes that all-important maiden victory this weekend.

George Russell - Head Down

After being taken out at the first corner by his own teammate last race, the Mercedes driver impressed massively as he got his head down and almost made it back onto the podium, if not for a late pace drop-off on new tyres. Providing nothing of the sort happens again this weekend, the way seems paved for Russell to mount a significant challenge for the victory on Sunday.

The Other Contenders

Verstappen is of course the favourite going into any weekend, but he currently has nothing to fight for after already wrapping up both championships. Piastri could definitely out-perform his teammate as well, as he did when it counted last time out, while Hamilton has the experience under his belt around COTA.

Marcus’ Predictions

With the championship now locked in for Verstappen, I’m going to go for a maiden victory for McLaren’s Norris, followed by Russell and Piastri to make it consecutive double podiums for the papaya team. I don’t see Ferrari making any sort of resurgence to the front this weekend, nor any top display from Sergio Perez to cement his place in the Red Bull team.

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