The Circuit of the Americas, which runs anti clockwise, is a wonderful mixture of many of the most famous circuits on the F1 calendar; it has more corners at over 250 km/h than Spa and more below 100kph than Hungary, which is quite a combination! It has one very long straight with a hairpin at either end. There were a total of 55 overtaking moves during the 2012 race, but only 18 in the 2013 edition. Strategy wise, the race has been a one stopper for both the previous races, due to a conservative choice of medium and hard tyres by Pirelli. This year they have opted for soft and medium.
Race distance : 56 laps (308.896 kilometres).
Corners : 20 corners in total. Average speed 197km/h.
Aerodynamic setup : Med/High downforce.
Top speed : 315km/h (with DRS open) 305km/h without.
Full throttle : 58% of lap.
Brake wear : medium/hard.
Number of braking events : 10 (Four heavy). At Turn 12 the drivers incur 5.5g in braking forces.
Time needed for a Pit stop : 21/22 seconds.
Lap record : 1:39.347 (Sebastian Vettel, Red Bull Racing, 2012)
The forecast for the weekend is for warm weather, with temperatures of 24 to 26 Centigrade.
Pirelli tyre choice for Austin: Soft (yellow markings) and Medium (white markings) This combination has been used six times already this season.
For the last two seasons, Pirelli has brought the medium and hard tyres to Austin and it has led to one-stop strategies. This year they have gone for the soft and medium tyres, but that is because the 2014 compounds are harder than last year’s. So we could have one or two stops as the preferred strategy, Pirelli thinks two. Tyre warm up has been a factor at this race track in the past as it can be very cool, in the mornings especially.
At the request of FIM, some of the asphalt run-off area around the outside of Turn 10 has been replaced by gravel, while a number of light panels will be mounted closer to the ground for improved visibility.
There are two DRS zones this weekend. The detection point of the first is 150 metres after Turn 10, with the activation point 320m after Turn 11, while the second zone’s detection point is 65m after Turn 18, with the activation point 80m after Turn 20, on the start/finish straight.
Typically with the harder compounds of the past in Austin one stop has been around 10 seconds faster than two stops. One stop has another advantage in that it offers track position in the final stint, so the two stopping car has to overtake it on fresher tyres in the closing stages. A typical one stop strategy is to start on soft tyres and pit around lap 20 for a new set of medium tyres.
Two stops would mean starting on the soft tyre, taking another set of softs around lap 15 and then a set of mediums around lap 37. Alternatively, two stints on the medium tyre if the wear on the soft was marginal and the medium had good pace.
There have been two races so far and one safety car so the probability is 50%.
The world championship is finely balanced as F1 makes its third visit to Austin, Texas, which proved a huge hit with teams, drivers and fans last season. The two Mercedes drivers have scored 565 points between them – enough to secure the constructor’s championship already – but there are only 17 points separating Lewis Hamilton from his team mate Nico Rosberg.
There will be only nine teams participating in the Grand Prix after Caterham and Marussia went into administration.
The news that Sebastian Vettel may skip qualifying completely because he has to replace a whole power unit will suck for fans. The way this has been going just shows how poorly thought out the rules were by the FIA.
I'm looking forward to another clean sweep by Lewis Hamilton as he has been very good at this track and the flowing nature of the circuit suits the Mercedes power unit just fine.
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