Thursday 26 April 2018

Rain danger, Rosberg fight back and Red Bull saga - Five things to look out for at US Grand Prix

Lewis Hamilton could wrap up the 2015 Formula One championship this weekend
Lewis Hamilton could wrap up the 2015 Formula One championship this weekend

Eoin Harrington

Lewis Hamilton could wrap up the 2015 Formula One championship this weekend – but there’s lots more to look out for.

Nico Rosberg’s fight back

Nico Rosberg’s title hopes for 2015 look all-but-over now after only one podium from the last four races – but the German will be determined to fight back in Austin.

The son of 1982 world champion Keke said in interviews this week that he wants to "have some fun" with his Mercedes this weekend and indeed for the rest of the season.

“I’ll be pushing flat out to the end and hopefully having some fun out there in the final few rounds this year – the car is great and gives me the chance to end the year with a few more wins. Austin is definitely somewhere that you can have fun too. I have nothing to lose," he said.

Rosberg hasn’t won a race since June’s Austrian Grand Prix, but took pole at this race last year – so he will definitely be in contention for the race win.

Rain could mess up grid order

With torrential thunderstorms scheduled for Austin today and tomorrow, the prospect for a mixed up starting order on Sunday is one which will excite sporting fans around the world.

With both Ferraris set to take ten-place grid drops after qualifying, the order could be completely reversed for the main event on Sunday evening.

Racing fans will be salivating at the prospect of some of the big names fighting through the field in the grand prix. If the threat of rain follows through, Williams – the third best team in F1 – will most likely fall backwards, as their car has been proven to be fundamentally flawed in the wet.

Expect Toro Rosso to surprise a few if it rains as well. Their car is considered the third best in F1 and a solid chassis could be key in a wet session.

The Red Bull saga continues

Even those not following Formula One will have heard of the Red Bull saga in recent weeks and many in Formula One circles are expecting it to come to a head in Texas this weekend.

The situation has descended into farce in recent weeks, with Bernie Ecclestone last week suggesting that former giants Cosworth should offer to supply Red Bull engines for 2016.

The Milton-Keynes team’s relationship with engine-suppliers Renault is now in tatters and, with the French car giants running a works team again next year and with Ferrari and Mercedes both refusing to supply the four-times world champions with engines next year, the winter could well be tricky for Red Bull.

Even if the situation is not resolved this weekend, expect it to take up most column inches in the weekend’s papers.

A spectacular venue

Formula One is yet to hold a perfect relationship with the US, with unfortunate situations from the past such as the Dallas street track melting on race weekend in 1984 and the farcical six car race in Indianapolis in 2005 tainting the image of the sport stateside.

However, the pinnacle of motorsport has finally found a settled home at the Circuit of the Americas and is finally starting to build a large fan base. COTA is the tenth track from the USA to host a world championship event (eleventh if you count the two different layouts of Indy) and is the first purpose-built Formula One venue in the States.

The track is regarded as one of the best on the calendar, with distinctive features such as the enormous climb towards turn one (44m from the bottom of the hill to the apex of the corner), the fast and flowing first sector, the “stadium section” from turns 12-16 and the long, sweeping turns 17 and 18. Take a look at an onboard lap here:

With Alexander Rossi of Manor the first native driver in a US Grand Prix since Scott Speed in 2007, the fervent home crowd will have a hero to cheer on, only adding to the already electric race-day atmosphere.

Hamilton the record-breaker?

Love him or loathe him, Lewis Hamilton has to be considered as one of the greatest sportsmen of his generation. The Briton has the chance to take a third world-title this weekend – he will do so if he wins and Sebastian Vettel of Ferrari fails to finish in second.

The magnitude of Hamilton’s potential achievements cannot be underestimated – he will be only the second British driver to win three world titles, along with Scottish great Sir Jackie Stewart, he will be the first British driver ever to win back-to-back titles and he will level Formula One greats such as Ayrton Senna, Nelson Piquet and Niki Lauda on three world titles.

He’s hit the headlines often this season for all the wrong reasons, but Hamilton is a legend of F1 in the making and his talent must be appreciated.

Online Editors

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