It’s been a turbulent few weeks since the Japanese Grand Prix. Perhaps some of the worst in the sports recent history, following on from Jules Bianchi’s horror shunt in Suzuka and the sudden and sad demise of the Marussia F1 Team.
Compiled with the mess at Leafield and Caterham/Engvest/ForzaRossa/whatever the hell it’s called, and it’s fair to say that off-track F1 hasn’t been performing at it’s very best ahead of one of it’s most important races of the season in the United States.
Let’s gather ourselves, shall we?
We’re in the midst of one of the greatest title battles the sport has seen in decades, with Lewis Hamilton’s 17 point lead over Nico Rosberg threatening to expand even further as the Brit aims to make it five wins in a row on Sunday. Not by any means is Rosberg would be down and out… *something about double points in Abu Dhabi*.
What a third career US win for Hamilton would mean, however, is that Rosberg is in serious trouble. Since the Belgium GP façade, the German has, Singapore aside, been at constant arm’s length behind Lewis, who has gone from strength to strength since FP1 in Italy over seven weeks ago. The net result is that 17 point deficit, and the chance for Lewis to tighten his grip on the world title silverware come the chequered flag in Austin.
Elsewhere, Red Bull’s departing champion Sebastian Vettel is at war with Williams’ Valtteri Bottas for 5th in the standings, with the exiting World Champion surely eager to finish the season at least within touching distance of Daniel Ricciardo in 3rd. Bottas may just be the thorn in his side on that note, with the Finn doing a ‘2013 Grosjean’ and unsettling the established order out front.
Another benefit Williams can currently enjoy is solidarity, with both Bottas and Felipe Massa confirmed for next season at the team. Elsewhere, Jenson Button is sat next to an equally as sweaty Kevin Magnussen at McLaren; with both drivers seemingly fighting for their F1 lives as we wait for Vettel and Fernando Alonso to hand-pick their 2015 choices. Intense as ever, a move here or a mistake there this weekend in Texas could cost either of them a step or two in the decisions not made by them, but by the teams constructing their contracts for next season.
So, the underlying message is that this weekend could be the weekend for a number of drivers, for a number of reasons, both on-track and off. Austin has quickly become of the sports season highlights since it came to the rescue of F1’s U.S reputation two years ago, and despite the turbulent times approaching the sports stay in America.
With our thoughts, of course, with Jules and family, a moment of focus reminds us that the show really is worth the stage it’s about to take place on as we approach High Noon in this season’s championship.