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.
Nico Rosberg celebrated his 200th Grand Prix in style with a win at the Singapore Grand Prix.
The Mercedes driver secured pole position on Saturday and held off a late charge from Daniel Ricciardo to win the race. The victory – along with team-mate Lewis Hamilton’s third place – means that he now leads the championship once again, the lead up to nine points.
At the start of the race Rosberg maintained the lead, with fellow front row starter Ricciardo staying in second and Hamilton third. Ricciardo’s team-mate Max Verstappen had a slow start which triggered sequence of events which led to the safety car being deployed.
Carlos Sainz went to pass Verstappen off the line and as the pair got squeezed together, Force India’s Nico Hulkenberg got caught up and spun across the track and into the pit-wall. Amazingly he did not collect any other drivers but the safety car was deployed to allow marshals to pick up debris over the track.
When racing resumed Rosberg pulled away at the front but both Mercedes had to deal with brake temperature issues throughout the race. Staying out on older tyres, Rosberg also had to deal with a charging Ricciardo on fresher tyres in the closing stages of the race. Ricciardo eventually ran out of laps – Rosberg’s advantage just four tenths of a second as they crossed the line at the end.
Hamilton was eight seconds further back in third, with Kimi Raikkonen fourth and Sebastian Vettel coming from the back to finish in fifth place. Verstappen was sixth ahead of Fernando Alonso, Sergio Perez, Daniil Kvyat and Kevin Magnussen.
Not for the first time this year Esteban Gutierrez missed out on points in 11th ahead of Felipe Massa, Felipe Nasr, Carlos Sainz and Jolyon Palmer. Pascal Wehrlein, Marcus Ericsson and Esteban Ocon were the last of the finishers.
Jenson Button and Valtteri Bottas both picked up damage on the first lap – Bottas a rear puncture and Button significant front wing damage. Both cars retired later on in the race with mechanical issues, joining Hulkenberg in the list of retirees. Romain Grosjean compounded a difficult weekend by failing to start the race due to brake issues which came to light on the way to the grid.