In the absence of six tests to the end of the Formula 1 World Cup, half a dozen points separate the applicant, Max verstappen (Red Bull), the champion, the British Lewis hamilton (Mercedes), in favor of the Dutch driver, who hopes to consolidate his position at the top of the classification in a Grand Prix that he has never won, the United States.
The unpredictable Circuit of the Americas, located in the city of Austin (Texas), this weekend challenges the drivers of the premier category of motorsport.
Spaniard Fernando Alonso (Alpine) considers it one of the “most challenging on the calendar” because each sector is different from the next and the characteristics of the track and the car can evolve from one turn to another.
Formula 1 has not been on this track, which offers overtaking possibilities, since 2019 (last year the Grand Prix was suspended due to the pandemic), its asphalt has been partially renovated (40 percent) since then and one of the unknowns to solve is the behavior of the tires.
The finish line or the exit of Turn 1 are some of the sections that have been updated and Pirelli has opted for the mid-range (C2, C3 and C4) of compounds for the return, two years later to the United States with the World Cup very tight.
The leader, Max Verstappen, has not won since last September 5 (three races), but has 262.5 points and is six ahead of seven-time champion Lewis Hamilton.
Stevenage won in Russia at the end of last month, while in Turkey, in the previous World Cup event, he changed part of the power unit, lost ten positions on the starting grid and finished fifth.
Hamilton gave up first place in the Drivers’ World Championship, but the situation could have been worse if he hadn’t had the help of his teammate, the Finn Valtteri Bottas, that in the throes of his time at Mercedes he scored the victory ahead of ‘Mad’ Max.
On the Turkish podium, they were accompanied by Mexican Sergio ‘Checo’ Pérez (Red Bull), who also acted as squire in a dispute with Hamilton in which he offered titanic resistance. The cocktail was joined by the Monegasque Charles Leclerc (Ferrari), who finished among them (fourth).
Sainz arrives with force
Turkey catapulted the Spanish Carlos Sainz (Ferrari), distinguished by popular vote as the driver of the day, after having starred in a spectacular comeback after being penalized for the changes he made to the engine of his car, novelties that Leclerc had already tried in the previous event, Russia, where the Madrilenian took the podium for the first time.
In that Grand Prix, Hamilton found himself with a victory that he had not savored since mid-July, when he prevailed in Great Britain. Now, the one who has not won since he did it at home is Verstappen.
If among the drivers the battle is tight, among the manufacturers, more of the same: 36 points in favor of Mercedes with respect to Red Bull in the fight for the title, while McLaren, on the podium, defends an income of seven points and a half on Ferrari and Alpine has twelve compared to Alphatauri.
The Asturian Fernando Alonso failed to score in Turkey in a weekend in which he signed a good classification (sixth place), but his aspirations were ruined in the first lap after an incident with the Frenchman Pierre Gasly (Alphatauri) who sent him to the caboose, where, also in those first moments had a touch with the German Mick Schumacher (Haas). The two-time world champion hugged Mick in the pits, to apologize, after finishing that race in the wet.
The sun returns
The rain has accompanied the last appointments on the calendar, but It seems that in Austin it will give a truce and, in principle, it will accompany the sun.
Austin’s 20-turn counterclockwise circuit is 5,513 meters long, and the drivers will give it 56 laps (the fastest lap was set by Leclerc in 2019, 1: 36,169) to cover a total distance of 308.405 kilometers.
It will be the ninth time that Formula 1 visits that track, which hosted its first premier class grand prix in 2012 with victory for Lewis Hamilton with McLaren before his switch to Mercedes. On that podium were the German Sebastian Vettel and Fernando Alonso.
With the German team, the Briton won there, consecutively, in 2014, 2015, 2016 and 2017; finnish Kimi Raikonnen (Alfa Romeo) did it with Ferrari in 2018 (it was his last triumph in Formula 1) and the Mercedes star shone again in 2019 thanks to Bottas.
Verstappen, although he has not won there, has been on the podium in his last two visits: he was second, starting eighteenth, in 2018, and third two years ago. A new pulse looms with Hamilton.
The United States Grand Prix will begin on Friday with free practice (6:30 p.m. and 10 p.m. CEST), on Saturday the third batch will be held (8:00 p.m. CEST) and qualifying (23:00 CEST) and on Sunday the The race will be held at 21:00 (CEST).