F1 Preview: USA Grand Prix

Lewis Hamilton could claim his fourth Formula One World Drivers’ Championship this weekend if things go his way at the USA Grand Prix.

With four GPs of the season left, Hamilton has built up a lead of 59 points over nearest rival Sebastian Vettel.

The scenarios that will see Hamilton win the title in Austin, are;

  • If Hamilton wins, he is world champion if Vettel finishes sixth or lower
  • If Hamilton finishes second, he is world champion if Vettel finishes ninth or lower and Bottas fails to win
  • If Hamilton finishes third, the title race goes on to Mexico

And Hamilton comes into the race in Texas with a brilliant record in America, having won the GP a record equalling five times, and four of his wins have come at the Circuit of the Americas – indeed the only other driver to have ever topped the podium there is Vettel.

Mercedes will also wrap up the Constructors’ championship this weekend if they win the GP.

Should Hamilton claim the outcome he needs, it will be the second time in his career that he has taken the world title at the US Grand Prix, following his success in 2015 which went with his crowns from 2008 and 2014.

“There’s still a long way to go. 100 points is a lot of points,” according to Hamilton.

“Anything can happen in life. I’ve just got to try and keep my head down and hopefully continue to perform like this – but I feel very, very fortunate and really blessed and I’m enjoying the experience.”

And despite the chances of a double celebration in the Mercedes garage, their head of Motor Sport Toto Wolff is trying to keep everyone calm.

“Still four races to go and 100 points to score: we can take nothing for granted,” says Wolff.

“We approach every race with a healthy dose of scepticism rather than wishful thinking, and our focus must be on making sure we score every point within our reach this weekend in Austin.

“Lewis has driven brilliantly this year – and since the summer break in particular, he has been on another level. It has been impressive to watch him extracting everything from the car and working with the team to solve problems and improve even further.”

Vettel admits that they may need to bad luck for Mercedes to come out on top.

“I’m not wishing to anyone. But it’s part of racing. To do the season without any retirements is quite rare. To have two, three or more is not good,” said the German.

Further down the field and a new driver will be on show this weekend with New Zealander Brendon Hartley handed an F1 debut by Toro Rosso – as their man Pierre Gasly, who is needed to finish the Super Formula in Japan.

27-year-old Hartley, who races in the World Endurance Championship, is delighted to get his chance and said:  “This opportunity came as somewhat of a surprise, but I never did give up on my ambition and childhood dream to reach F1.

“I have grown and learnt so much since the days when I was the Red Bull and Toro Rosso reserve driver, and the tough years I went through made me stronger and even more determined.”

Another debut is also coming at Renault with Carlos Sainz – who left Toro Rosso to take place in the final four races ahead of his full season with the French outfit next term.

“It’s key to have this immediate taste with Renault and get to know the people and the car. It’s a big challenge, but it motivates me,” said Sainz.

We spoke to BetSafe’s Ian Balchin, F1 odds compiler for the Betsson Group, ahead of the race

The early price for Lewis is competitive as we think that the pressure on Lewis is starting to mount and this will affect him. Once again the weather could also play its part in deciding who stands on the winners podium this weekend.

Our Lewis special ‘Where will Lewis win the 2017 championship’ has had our customers favouring Mexico so far.  But there are still plenty of points available to decide the 2017 championship title and I am sure we will see a few more upsets before the end of the season.

And due to the current trend of sporting athletes taking the knee in support of the movement, we feel that offering a Lewis special on this market is both topical and interesting for our customers.

Look at this this track, it is going to be very hard on the cars mechanically, with a very high 66 gear changes per lap average. We fear that Mclaren’s poor reliability is once again going to be their downfall this weekend.

Elsewhere, Brendon Harley’s introduction for this race in the Toro Rosso car has raised a few eyebrows and I am tipping him to make a surprise impact on race day, top 10 finish anyone?  But due to the championship situation, we will aim to be market leaders for Lewis to win the Circuit of the America’s all weekend.

Our motor-sport expert and professional racer Seb Morris gives us his opinion on the US GP

The Austin circuit really ought to suit the Ferrari but we have seen the Italian manufacturer to be so unreliable in recent races,  it is hard to know what to expect this time around.  If they stay reliable I would expect Vettel to win this one,  but Hamilton will be very content with the podium which would virtually ensure the Championship.   Vettel needs a massive points swing here and with the Mercedes being supremely reliable I can’t see it happening.

Red Bull will be strong again and Verstappen has a good chance of another podium here and possibly even a win if Vettel has more problems.

I will be looking to see how Toro Rosso do and in particular, Brendon Hartley.    Brendon is someone I know of well and indeed I raced against him in the Daytona 24 earlier this year.   It is brilliant for motorsport that someone who has been competing in endurance racing for many years now has this F1 opportunity.  It will be a tough ask for him to adapt so quickly and with virtually no practice time but Brendon is supremely talented – you do not get to race for Porsche in WEC and at Le Mans if you are not.  I think he will do ok.


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