Formula One is back after a three week break and it’s time for a trip to the Circuit of the Americas (COTA) for the third time.
Held for the first time in 2012, the race has been won by both Lewis Hamilton and Sebastian Vettel. Vettel took pole position in 2012 but was beaten by Hamilton – his last win for McLaren – but won the race from pole in 2013. The four time world champion has arrived in America with the knowledge that he will have to take a penalty for an engine change. It is unlikely that he will take part in qualifying, bringing the total number of participants down to 17, and will start from the pit-lane as a result.
In the three week gap between Russia and Austin Caterham and Marussia have both gone into administration with neither team appearing at this weekend’s Grand Prix. This means just 18 drivers will line up for the start of the American Grand Prix – the lowest number since the 2005 Monaco Grand Prix which BAR sat out due to being banned for two races because of fuel irregularities. Of course after that there was the infamous 2005 US Grand Prix – which 14 of the 20 qualifiers failed to start – which ran with just six racers, but more qualifiers.
US GP stats
Circuit: Circuit of the Americas
Number of Laps: 56
Circuit Length: 5.513km
Number of Corners: 20
Lap Record: 1:39.347 Sebastian Vettel 2012
Previous US GP (in Austin) winners still on the grid: 2
Most Successful Team: McLaren & Red Bull (1 win)
DRS Zones: 2
Pirelli Tyres: Medium and Soft
Featuring lots of elevation changes – including the long run up (literally) to Turn 1 with the blind apex – the COTA has already become a favourite amongst the drivers. It features a mix of high-speed corners with a number of technical sections. Pirelli have changed the tyres from the previous two years, moving to the soft compound to partner the medium instead of the hard compound used for the first two years.
Mercedes have already wrapped up the constructors championship but the drivers championship is still being fought for. Hamilton has staged quite the turnaround in the last few races – winning four of the last five – and leads Rosberg by 17 points. With three races left, including double points in Abu Dhabi, it is all very much still to play for!