And here we are then, Austin, Texas. A track that was completed just in time, the tenth track F1 has raced in the United States so far and the first one purpose built for this..err..purpose. And the best part of it is, nobody has any idea how the surface will beat up the tyres. Pirelli were so spooked, they gave the medium and hard tyres for this race and even set aside an extra pair of hard tyres for each team to practice on.
So how will we ever decide who will win it? Besides our emotional inner monster raging for a win for our own choice of drivers no matter what the circumstance. I suppose we will have to look at some facts.
The good news for Vettel is the opening sector at the Circuit of the Americas should play to his car’s strengths more than Alonso’s. The first and last sectors of the lap, which are all about cornering, look like they will favour Red Bull with its massive down force.
The flowing corners of its opening sector have drawn immediate comparisons with Silverstone’s Maggots/Becketts and Suzuka’s Esses. Although it seems not to be a straight copy of either, it will severely tax the cars’ capacity for high-speed changes of direction. A look at the sector times from qualifying at Suzuka indicate Red Bull should be particularly strong here.
In terms of finding the key to winning at Austin, qualifying will be very important because the sequence of corners at the start of the lap will string the field out on the opening lap, so making sure you get away first on the opening lap will be vital. Which is what Vettel is good at.
Adrian Newey's magic continues its run as the RB8 is not just fast around corners but is unbreakable most of the time. We've seen that many times throughout the season and again at Abu Dhabi where Vettel's car just wouldn't break down after colliding with cars and things on the track. Not to mention the RB8's penchant for getting on pole in the hands of Vettel.
Comparing the 2 championship contenders and their form, we can see that it is almost 50/50 with Vettel beating Alonso 10 out of 18 times, so it is quite evenly matched. And this with Alonso in an inferior car. Imagine if Alonso was in a better car? Just shows the consistency that Alonso has been achieving all this while.
Race Finishing Positions
In the end, it doesn't look good for Alonso does it? Vettel has the track and the car for this race. While Alonso is super consistent and a real fighter in an inferior car, he might be running out of races to beat Vettel. Alonso needs to keep Vettel from scoring more than 15 points than himself to bring the title decider to Brazil and a last chance to beat Vettel to the title. That would be a fitting end to this season.