Formula One heads stateside to Texas for the eighteenth round of the year – the U.S. Grand Prix! And it could be the weekend where the 2018 title is decided. Here are your reasons to watch all the action this weekend!
Title five looms for Lewis
Eight points. That’s all Lewis Hamilton needs to score more than Sebastian Vettel this weekend in order to take his fifth World Championship victory. If Hamilton wins on Sunday, as he has done in every season since 2014, and Vettel finishes third or lower, Hamilton will equal Juan Manuel Fangio on five titles.
The champion-elect says he’ll be taking the same approach this weekend as he has done all year:
“We naturally want to win this weekend. So diligence and going through the same steps in terms of getting the car to where it needs to be through the weekend, I feel naturally relaxed and I know what I’m going to do.”
Should Hamilton take the title this weekend, it’ll be the first time he’s won the championship in the same country twice, having also taken the honours here back in 2015. Watch out for Sebastian Vettel throwing a cap in Hamilton’s direction after the race in that case, just for a real feeling of nostalgia.
One last chance for Ferrari?
Ferrari have said they aren’t giving up on hopes of the title until it is mathematically impossible. While, Vettel’s title aspirations seem relatively stark, we all know that nothing is over until it’s over in Formula One.
Maurizio Arrivabene told Sky Sports F1: “I know that the situation looks impossible but our job sometimes is to challenge the impossible. This is what we’re going to try to do.”
While both the Drivers’ and Constructors’ Championships are still mathematically possible for Ferrari, they’d require some bad luck for Mercedes. Even if Vettel wins all of the remaining four races, he’d only be crowned champion if Lewis Hamilton failed to score more than 32 points in the remaining rounds.
Can Ferrari do anything to keep the championship alive until Mexico at least?
— Scuderia Ferrari (@ScuderiaFerrari) October 18, 2018
Who’ll be best of the rest?
While the title seems destined for Lewis Hamilton before the end of the season, just four points separate the drivers between seventh and eleventh in the Drivers’ Championship, all vying to be crowned ‘Best of the Rest’. Sergio Perez, Kevin Magnussen and Nico Hulkenberg are all tied on 53 points, while Alonso and Ocon have 50 and 49 points respectively. All are in that tight battle to be best of the rest – a battle which seems set to continue until the end of the year.
The tight midfield battle has provided us with some of the most exciting racing this year, and with any luck there’ll be more to look forward to in Texas. There’ll be plenty of support in the crowd for Haas, who compete in their third race on home soil this weekend. The team currently sit eight points behind Renault in the fight for fourth in the Constructors’ Championship. Can they get a little nearer this weekend?
— Racing Point Force India F1 (@ForceIndiaF1) October 18, 2018
A new winner?
There have only ever been two winners at the Circuit of the Americas. Sebastian Vettel won here in 2013, while Lewis Hamilton has taken every other victory at the track. Could this be the weekend where someone else steps up to the top step on the podium in Texas?
While Red Bull haven’t taken a win since Max Verstappen’s victory in the Austrian Grand Prix back in July, they’re also the only team to have seen both of their drivers win a race so far in 2018. Valtteri Bottas and Kimi Raikkonen will surely be hoping to snatch a victory before the end of the season – can they do it as their team-mates are fighting for champion status?
— Renault F1 Team (@RenaultF1Team) October 15, 2018
Hulkenberg’s bad luck streak
Nico Hulkenberg hasn’t finished a Grand Prix in the USA since 2013, when he finished sixth for Sauber. In 2014, he retired with engine troubles, 2015 saw him collide with future team-mate Daniel Ricciardo, ending his race early and in 2016, he retired after the first lap following first corner contact with Valtteri Bottas. Last year, an engine change saw Hulkenberg start down in eighteenth, and he retired after just three laps with further engine problems. Will his fortunes at the track turn around this season?
Another interesting statistic for you – the drivers starting from fourth and fourteenth on the grid have retired from the U.S. Grand Prix in all of the last three seasons.
COTA = awesome!
Since joining the calendar in 2012, the Circuit of the Americas has proven popular with drivers and fans alike. Taking inspiration from some of the world’s most famous circuits, hopefully the seventh running of the race will provide excitement throughout once again. Particular highlights include the tight, uphill first turn where comings together are frequent, and then the series of corners which follows that – reminiscent of Silverstone’s Becketts and Maggots complex. For 2018, extra kerbs have been added at Turns 16 and 17 to avoid drivers cutting the corner – like Max Verstappen did on the final lap of last year’s race.
The 2018 U.S. Grand Prix begins at 7:10pm BST on Sunday. In the UK, coverage is live on both Channel 4 and Sky Sports F1.