Formula One heads stateside with the US Grand Prix in Austin this weekend.
With just four races remaining Nico Rosberg heads his team-mate by 33 points – more than a race win – with Mercedes having secured the constructors championship last time out in Japan.
Lewis Hamilton has won three of the four previous outings at the Circuit of the Americas and he was the winner of the 2007 US Grand Prix when it was held at Indianapolis for the last time. He will be hoping to win his first race since the German Grand Prix earlier this year.
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: Mercedes (2 wins)
DRS Zones: 2
Pirelli Tyres: Medium, Soft and Supersoft
The track has become a firm favourite amongst fans and drivers over the past four years due to its mixture of high and low speed corners, elevation changes, and ample overtaking opportunities.
The run to turn one is uphill meaning drivers arrive at the first corner blind. Drivers will reach top speeds of 340km/h with around 54 gear changes per lap. The first sector of the lap is fast and flowing while the second half of the lap features more low and medium speed corners.
Last year the weather conditions played a big part with torrential rain delaying qualifying until Sunday morning. Forecasts for this weekend look more promising and similar to the three other holdings of the US Grand Prix in Texas.
Rosberg is firmly in control of the championship with a 33 point lead over Hamilton. He has won nine races so far this season, including four of the last five. Hamilton is no stranger to overcoming points deficits to his team-mates however he is running out of time to do so. While Mercedes may have won the constructors, Red Bull have proven in the last few races that they can be a force to be reckoned with. Daniel Ricciardo won in Malaysia and has been on the podium at Austin before while Verstappen has finished second at the last two races. They now have a 50 point advantage over Ferrari. The battle between Force India and Williams remains close with Force India currently 10 points ahead of Williams. McLaren are pulling away from Toro Rosso while Haas are solidly eighth. Sauber are the only team yet to score in 2016.
Following Red Bull’s 1-2 in Malaysia, it was Mercedes who returned to the top step of the podium in Japan with Nico Rosberg taking his ninth win of the season. He now leads team-mate Lewis Hamilton by 33 points going into the last four races.
Rosberg started the race from pole position and made the perfect start while Hamilton dropped down the order to eighth. He faced a fight back and eventually finished third behind Max Verstappen with the pair going wheel to wheel in the closing stages. Sebastian Vettel finished in fourth for Ferrari ahead of Kimi Raikkonen, Malaysia winner Daniel Ricciardo, and Sergio Perez. Nico Hulkenberg, Felipe Massa and Valtteri Bottas rounded out the points finishers.
There were close battles up and down the field including the aforementioned Verstappen Hamilton fight. Mercedes believed that Verstappen had driven somewhat aggressively when Hamilton was forced to take avoiding action at the chicane but a protest was later withdrawn. The Williams duo in ninth and tenth finished just tenths of a second apart and were in turn just a few tenths clear of Romain Grosjean who finished in 11th.
Jolyon Palmer was 12th ahead of Daniil Kvyat, Kevin Magnussen, and Marcus Ericsson. McLaren had a weekend to forget with Fernando Alonso languishing in 16th just ahead of Carlos Sainz. There were 22 race starters and all 22 finished with Jenson Button 18th, Felipe Nasr 19th, and Esteban Gutierrez 20th. Esteban Ocon was the lead Manor car home in 21st with Pascal Wehrlein finishing 22nd.
Mercedes outscored Red Bull by the amount of points they needed confirming their third constructors world championship in as many years.