United States Grand PrixView

By on Thursday, October 30, 2014
Red Bull/Getty Images

Red Bull/Getty Images

After a much-needed three week break Formula 1 returns this weekend with the last back-to-back races of the season. With the Constructors’ Championship already secured by Mercedes in the previous round at Sochi, the focus will now be fully switched to the Drivers’ title. There are still 100 points available and only three drivers with a mathematical chance of winning the title. Their first chance to grab more points will come in Austin, which is the tenth different circuit in United States to have hosted a F1 race.

The idea of staging a Formula 1 round in the United States came back in 1950s, after the unexpected success of the 12 Hours of Sebring endurance race. The first US Grand Prix was originally scheduled for the spring of 1959 but later rescheduled for 12 December, three months after the previous round at Monza. The starting grid at Sebring included seven American drivers, but the race was won by Bruce McLaren, in a Cooper-Climax – his first win.

The United States has hosted 53 F1 races to date but only 35 of them - those hosted at Sebring, Riverside, Watkins Glen, Phoenix, Indianapolis and Austin - were named the US Grand Prix. Other F1 races in US were held at Long Beach, Detroit, Las Vegas and Dallas. With the addition of the Long Beach GP to the 1976 calendar, the US became the first country since Italy in 1957 to hold two F1 races in the same season. Moreover, in 1982 US became the first and only nation in F1 history which hosted three races in a single season, at Long Beach, Detroit and Las Vegas.

The Track

The sport returned to the US in 2012, after a five-year break since the last race at Indianapolis in 2007, on a track which became the first American motorsport facility to be built primarily for Formula 1.

Red Bull/Getty Images

Red Bull/Getty Images

The Circuit of The Americas (COTA) is an anti-clockwise track of 5.513 km length which features 20 corners (9 right, 11 left). It features several high-speed corners but overall it’s quite a balanced track for which you need good downforce and a powerful engine in order to be competitive.

“The start/finish straight has a steep incline up to the first corner and is the trademark of the track. For us that means the braking starts uphill, which is not easy and locking the front tyres could be a problem,” says Red Bull’s Sebastian Vettel, who has led 95 of the 112 racing laps in Austin.

“A lot of the corner combinations remind me of other famous circuits on the race calendar. For example the fast combination during the first part of the track feels like Silverstone and Suzuka. The famous Maggotts and Becketts passages were used as a model for this part of the track and the drivers enjoy the extremely fast turns, when the car is balanced right. Also corners 12 and 15, this section was taken from the Motodrom in Hockenheim. It is a slower part of the track, and is designed to create more of a stadium atmosphere. The long bend also reminds of the famous Turn 8 in Istanbul."

His team-mate Daniel Ricciardo believes the Circuit of The Americas is the best of the new breed of circuits. “The nature of the corners is interesting. It's also a very busy track where you don't get much respite. The first sector is very special and that first turn, blind up the big hill is like nothing else in F1. It's also a good example of the excitement a late apex can create: you can have a really good lunge there. They've done a very good job."

The Race

Caterham and Marussia will both miss the US Grand Prix due to financial problems. This means the grid in Austin will be reduced to 18 cars, the smallest field since the 2005 Monaco GP where BAR-Honda was banned following a breach of the technical regulations.

Scuderia Ferrari

Scuderia Ferrari

Lewis Hamilton arrives in the US with a 17 point advantage over Mercedes team-mate Nico Rosberg and has momentum on his side having won the last four races. Ricciardo is the only non-Mercedes driver still in the title fight; the Red Bull driver has scored 14 consecutive points finishes this season but needs a miracle to remain in the championship hunt heading to Brazil. His team-mate, outgoing world champion Vettel, is set to use a sixth engine, meaning that he could start from the pit lane.

Pirelli have moved away from the harder options at this year’s US Grand Prix, allocating its Medium and Soft compounds. With the tarmac not being very abrasive at Austin, the change is likely to lead to most drivers stopping just once, although some may top twice.

There will be two DRS zones at COTA, with the first detection point right after turn 10 and the activation point after turn 11. The second zone’s detection point will be after turn 18, with the activation point on the start/finish straight.

World Sportscar Champion and Le Mans winner Derek Warwick will be the FIA's driver steward this weekend.

Due to the absence of Marussia and Caterham the qualifying format will be amended, with only four cars being eliminated from both Q1 and Q2. The top 10 shootout will take place as normal.

Facts

Seven drivers of the current field have led at least one lap in US, but only Lewis Hamilton and Sebastian Vettel have actually won on American soil.

Michael Schumacher holds the records of most US Grand Prix wins (5) and pole positions (4), while Ferrari is the most successful team in US, having won 9 races.

Almost half of the races in US were won from pole position. The lowest winning grid position was 10th, at the inaugural US GP in 1959

Five of the 38 American drivers who have started at least one Grand Prix won a F1 race. The only American driver to win in US is Mario Andretti, at the 1977 USA West Grand Prix at Long Beach.

Mercedes goes into this weekend with three running sequences: nine one-two finishes this season, eight consecutive front-row starts, eight consecutive pole positions.

Timetable (GMT-5 (Fri/Sat); GMT-6 (Sun))

Friday 31 October

  • Practice One: 10:00 – 11:30
  • Practice Two: 14:00 – 15:30

Saturday 01 November

  • Practice Three: 10:00 – 10:00
  • Qualifying: 13:00 (60 minutes)

Sunday 02 November

  • Race: 14:00 (56 laps or two hours)

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