The tightest championship battle since the sport’s turbo-hybrid era is poised once again for a fascinating match-up on possibly the world’s biggest stage. Formula 1 heads to ‘Merica this weekend for the first race there since 2019. Netflix’s Drive to Survive has enthralled many F1 newbies with great depictions of drama and we’re likely to see that play out at the Circuit of the Americas.
First, some background of the race that Mercedes has dominated since 2014, mostly due to taking advantage of its superior straight-line speed on the track’s 1,100m straight. Lewis Hamilton has won five times in Texas while Mercedes teammate Valtteri Bottas stood on the top step back in 2019. Going into this weekend’s race, the 5,5km track is once again fertile ground for the German team thanks to its superior straight-line speed illustrated since the Turkish GP.
For qualifying, historical data shows that the Austin race has never been won by a driver who didn’t start on the front row. That means Saturday’s qualifying session is crucial to Hamilton’s title rival Max Verstappen who enjoys a slender lead in the drivers’ championship.
We’re looking at Ferrari’s recent run of good form as a launching pad for Carlos Sainz or Charles Leclerc to battle for a potential podium spot. The scarlet car has seen an improvement in performance thanks to a tweaked hybrid setup and Sainz who has earned points in his last nine races.
The battle at the front will come down to how Mercedes and Red Bull use their wingmen in Bottas and Sergio Perez. The former has been in stupendous form since it was announced he will join Alfa Romeo from Mercedes next season and has outscored Hamilton and Verstappen in the last three races capping it off with a win in Turkey. However, Mercedes team boss Toto Wolff knows this is a great opportunity for Hamilton to retake the championship lead from Verstappen and will use Bottas to ensure the Dutchman finished behind the two Mercedes drivers.