From the Middle East, we fly to the USA, where this year’s third North American Grand Prix will take place. It seems only a while ago the USA entered the regular F1 calendar, but now we have a race in Miami, Austin, and Las Vegas, which will come in November. From these three, this is, of course, the oldest United States Grand Prix, which saw its debut in 2012. The F1 history in the USA is much older than that, but after a 4-year break from Indianapolis, it was Circuit of the Americas, or COTA for short, in Austin, Texas, that saw the rebirth of F1 racing in the states. We’re in for an exciting race, as more and more we see the Red Bull authority being challenged, so are we finally due for a new race winner?
A Glimpse into the Past
As we mentioned, the first racing that we saw in COTA was in 2012 and the inaugural race was won by Lewis Hamilton, when he was still racing for McLaren. It was a true battle of two men who are now considered the legends of the sport, but in the end, Hamilton just managed to be half a second ahead of Sebastian Vettel. Next year though, Vettel had his revenge, claiming the top step of the podium. Then for the next four years, it was a reigning Hamilton and Mercedes dominance until 2018, when Kimi Raikkonen claimed an iconic victory, which was his career’s last. In 2019 it was once again Mercedes, but this time Valtteri Bottas was able to clinch a win. Post-covid we returned to COTA for the 2021 and 2022 F1 seasons and on both occasions, it was the young gun Max Verstappen who enjoyed the sparkling victory champagne.
This year’s United States Grand Prix will utilize the much-discussed Sprint format, which is becoming more and more prominent in F1 races, so drivers have only a single practice session on Friday before the stakes are raised on Saturday when the qualifying session will determine the grid for Sunday’s race. Even though the Drivers and Constructors Championship winners have been decided, we still have an exciting battle between Mercedes and Ferrari to decide which team will claim the 2nd place. It is much more than just pride on the line, as each higher place in the Constructors standing means a bigger share of the total prize pool, so a couple of millions for the development of the next season is quite crucial.
Many are also stunned by the pace that McLaren has shown in these last races. Oscar Piastri and Lando Norris have charged on, continuously fighting for top podium positions and it almost seems that soon enough they will be able to catch the Red Bulls. If not this year, then there are hopes that this feat can be accomplished in the next season.
Danny Ricciardo fans can also rejoice, as the beloved Aussie is back on the grid after suffering an injury in the Dutch Grand Prix, in late August. Even though Liam Lawson performed his reserve driver obligations well, Alpha Tauri and essentially Red Bull, have decided to keep Danny in the seat for the foreseeable future, which left a lot of viewers disgruntled.
The long-awaited upgrade package for Haas has finally come, so we might see an improvement in their pace for the home Grand Prix. Haas have struggled throughout the season, so a resurgence in their speed would be welcomed by the local crowd.
Both Russell and Norris are preparing for their 100th Grand Prix start. These two young talents have had their fair share of battles in the past. When asked about this weekend, Norris hasn’t been all that enthusiastic, believing that the layout of the track won’t suit their car, meanwhile, Russell is more than eager to put behind the woes of the last race, where he tangled up with his teammate Lewis Hamilton.
The excitement already begins this Friday at 20:30, when all the cars will take over COTA for the first practice session. Although Max Verstappen is still the clear favorite, we might see some unexpected results in this race.