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. The track is well known for its spectacular elevation changes of up to 40 metres, with an uphill run to the distinctive Turn 1, which is a hairpin bend and the signature corner. The track contains an ample variety of corners, which incorporate some of the best elements from other circuits, making it a wide-ranging challenge that tests every aspect of tyre performance.
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. Inaugurated in 2012, the Circuit of the Americas is the 10th venue to have hosted a Formula One grand prix in the United States, and it has proved to be extremely popular since its inception.
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: Kimi Raikkonen - 1:39.347 (Lotus, 2012).
The build-up to Sunday’s United States Grand Prix is forecast to be extremely wet, though conditions should improve in time for race day.
A tropical storm south-west of Mexico will send significant amounts of rain north to Texas over the coming days. Forecasts give different views of exactly much rain Austin will experience, but a high volume of rainfall is expected which will peak on Saturday. Conditions for Friday are little better.
By Sunday the forecast improves but a risk of rain showers will remain for the race. That is likely to affect how teams approach practice, and could mean we see very little running indeed. Friday running may be sacrificed to save wet and intermediate tyres for the race, and conditions on Saturday could lead to lengthy red flags.
F1 has not run in heavy rain at the Circuit of the Americas, which opened in 2012, but last year’s World Endurance Championship round at the track was hit by a rainstorm 90 minutes into the event.
This year, as was the case in 2014, the versatile medium and soft P Zero tyres have been nominated.
In total there are 20 quite varied corners, including a tricky uphill braking area for the unusual turn one (the highest point of the track), giving the anticlockwise circuit a distinctly different feel for the drivers. The track limits are deliberately wide at the corners, in order to encourage different lines and provide opportunities for overtaking.
There are three long straights that tend to cool down the tyres, making the braking areas critical, as tyre temperature will have dropped slightly. This also then affects the turn-in into fast corners, as the compound has to get back up to temperature very quickly. In the past, track temperatures have varied from 18 to 37 degrees centigrade within one day, making tyre temperature management a vital skill.
The set-up tends to be medium downforce with an emphasis on mechanical grip from the tyres; especially at the front to aid a rapid turn-in during the fast direction changes that characterise the first half of the lap. There is roughly 60% full throttle and 10 braking events: about average for the season.
The race will use the same two DRS zones as previous races at the track. The first will be between turns eleven and twelve, and the second will be on the start/finish straight between turns twenty and one.
Zone 1 - Between Turns 11 & 12
Zone 2 - Main 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 three races so far and one safety car so the probability is 30%.
If Lewis Hamilton wins the US Grand Prix in Austin on Sunday, with Nico Rosberg second and Sebastian Vettel third, a result that has already occurred on four occasions so far this season, Hamilton will win the Formula 1 world championship with three races to spare.
If he does claim the 2015 title on Sunday, Hamilton will become Briton’s second three-time world champion, after Sir Jackie Stewart, but will be the first British driver ever to secure back-to-back F1 championships.
The USA has been the scene of six previous title deciders, in 1959, 1970, 1974, 1977, 1981 and 1982 – with the most recent occasion the year Keke Rosberg, Nico’s father, won his only F1 championship.
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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