Coming off of a Mercedes dominating race last weekend in Mexico, the Formula One stars head just a bit north to the Circuit Of The Americas for the annual United States Grand Prix.
Can Lewis Hamilton clinch the drivers championship this weekend? Here’s the race preview.
Hamilton Eyeing 5th Championship In 6 Years
Lewis Hamilton won last weekend’s Mexican Grand Prix, but due to his Mercedes teammate Valtteri Bottas finishing third, his bid for a fifth title in the last six years would have to wait another week. But, maybe this is the weekend that the Brit can claim it.
Hamilton, has won two of the last three races on the season to go along with four victories in Austin in his last five tries. Meanwhile, Bottas hasn’t finished better than fifth in any of his six starts in COTA including two straight fifth place finishes on the Texas road course. While he does have four podiums in his last five starts on the season, I don’t see him beating Hamilton for the win this weekend.
Hamilton, was eighth, first and fifth respectively in practice while Bottas was 17th, fifth and fourth himself.
Plus, Mercedes has won five of the seven races at COTA, all being won by Hamilton.
Can Verstappen Get Going As Albon Still Dazzling
Max Verstappen was supposed to be a favorite in Mexico but he struggled with a sixth place result. It was the third consecutive race that his No. 33 Aston Martin Red Bull Racing Honda failed to finish on the podium. In fact, he’s had just one podium in his last six starts on the season.
In COTA, the site of this weekend’s race, Verstappen has one podium in four tries but that came via a runner-up in last year’s race. Can he find his groove this weekend? So far, yes. He was quickest in two of the three practice sessions and third in the other.
We know his teammate Alex Albon will though. The rookie surprise has six straight top six finishes on the season now and seven in the last eight races. He’s scored points in each of his last eight races overall and has crossed the finish line ahead of Verstappen in four of the last six races too.
Also, Albon was third, sixth and sixth respectively in practice this weekend.
Ferrari Has Pace, Can’t Find Victory
Since the summer break ended, the Ferrari’s have won literally ever pole for the last six races. The problem is, while they converted the first three poles into victories, the last three have allowed Mercedes to beat them.
The Prancing Horses just can’t seem to get out of their own way. I mean last weekend for example, they had a front row lockout in Mexico. Every Mexican Grand Prix since 1990 has seen the race winner come from the front row.
Instead, Mercedes took the win and two of the three spots on the podium.
What will happen this weekend?
Ferrari won this race last year with Kimi Raikkonen. Charles LeClerc replaces him in the car this year but the second year driver has just one podium in his last three starts on the season and two of those races saw him come from the pole position. He was seventh and second respectively in practice on Friday but blew an engine in Saturday’s session.
Sebastian Vettel has two straight runner-ups and appears to be finding his stride. Out of the last four races, he has three top two finishes, one of which being a win. In COTA, he won the race back in 2013 with Red Bull and has four podiums in seven tries. He was second in the first and last practice session and fourth in the other.
Can the Ferrari’s challenge the Mercedes drivers in the race itself on Sunday?
- 77 Bottas – The championship isn’t over yet. Bottas, won the pole on Saturday and won last weekend’s race in Mexico. Also, Mercedes has won five of the seven trips to COTA as well as Bottas gives them their first driver other than Hamilton to triumph.
- 5 Vettel – He’s been fast all weekend and has three top two finishes in his last four starts on the season. He was second in two of the three practice sessions as well.
- 33 Verstappen – He was quickest in two of the three practice sessions this weekend and was runner-up in this race last year. He rolls off third.
- 44 Hamilton – He has struggled this weekend and narrowly misses the podium on Sunday. But, he just has to finish ninth or better though and clinches the championship.
- 23 Albon – He has six straight top six finishes as has been in the top six in literally every session this weekend.