PREVIEW: 2017 Formula 1 United States Grand Prix – Last chance for Vettel in the Lone Star state


Credit: Octane Photographic

The FIA Formula 1  World Championship heads to the Circuit of the Americas for the sixth time for the United States Grand Prix after a month in which the destination of the title has become almost certain.

It is said the the 3.427 mile circuit takes inspiration from some of motor sport’s greatest tracks.

The Esses in Sector 1 resemble those found at Silverstone and Suzuka to give the drivers a challenge early on their lap, while the multiple apex Turn 17 takes inspiration from the fearsome Turn 8 at Istanbul Park.

Of course, then there is CoTA’s unique USP. The rise from the pit-straight into the braking zone at Turn 1.

The inclination here is 41m and leads to various lines available to be taken into the first turn.

CoTA is a well liked layout, with drivers praising the challenge faced, meaning the US GP has surely found a home for a long time to come, at the first purpose built F1 venue stateside.

Game. Set. Championship Hamilton?

Lewis Hamilton sits atop the standings by 59 from Scuderia Ferrari driver Sebastian Vettel after Hamilton’s win in Japan two weeks ago and Vettel’s second retirement in three races due to a spark-plug problem.

Vettel has only scored 27 points in Ferrari’s capitulation since the summer break, while Hamilton has racked up 112, this means the Mercedes AMG Petronas F1 Team driver could wrap up his fourth world crown on Sunday.

Sebastian Vettel must win on Sunday to keep his faint title hopes alive. Credit: Scuderia Ferrari

For Hamilton to take the championship, he would need to win the race, something he has done on four out of five visits to Texas, and hopes Vettel finishes sixth or lower.

Talking points

If, and it is a big if, Vettel can catch Hamilton, then he needs to win the race, something he hasn’t done since the Hungarian Grand Prix in July.

Vettel and Ferrari need Kimi Raikkonen to get in among the Mercedes and Red Bull Racing cars and provide adequate support for his team-mates faltering title bid.

Elsewhere, Brendon Hartley will make his F1 debut for the Scuderia Toro Rosso team, with the possibility of a full-time seat for 2018.

Porsche World Endurance Championship driver Hartley will step into the seat vacated by Pierre Gasly, who will be in Japan, aiming to win the Super Formula title for incoming Toro Rosso power unit suppliers, Honda.

Next to Hartley in the STR12, will not be Carlos Sainz Jr., but Danill Kvyat.

Sainz has moved to the Renault Sport Formula One team for the final four races of this season, to replace Jolyon Palmer, while Kvyat returns following being dropped after the Singapore Grand Prix in favour of Gasly.

To raise awareness of breast cancer, tyre supplier Pirelli have changed the colour on the sidewall of its usually purple marked ultra-soft tyre.

Instead, for this weekend, the sidewall will be painted pink, in a nod towards breast cancer charity, Susan G Komen’s colours.

The red marked super-soft tyre and yellow walled soft tyre are also available for drivers to use.

What else do I need to know?

The race will be 56 laps, and gets underway at 8pm UK time on Sunday evening, with qualifying starting at 10pm on Saturday evening.

Current weather forecasts predict a dry Friday and Saturday, although there is a slight chance of showers for the race on Sunday.

Sky Sports will have live coverage of the weekend’s action, while for freeview viewers, Channel 4 will also be broadcasting live.

Should I watch it?

Since F1 came to the Lone Star state, the Circuit of the Americas has produced some memorable moments.

Hamilton vs Vettel in 2012, Hamilton vs Rosberg in 2014, and 2015 for that matter.

Overtaking chances are a plenty, and drivers are always eager to put on a show for the passionate fans.

With Vettel in his last chance saloon, he has to come out fighting, and where else better to do that than in Texas?