US GP Preview: Third F1 World Title looming for Hamilton

Formula One heads off to the United States of America for Round 16 of the 2015 World Championship. Read on for my preview to the potentially title-deciding round.

America, a country known as the ‘Land of Opportunities’ is providing one of Formula One’s stars the opportunity to become a three-time World Champion this Sunday. But can Lewis secure the title at the Circuit of the Americas in Austin, Texas or will Vettel and Rosberg cling on for another round?

All Hamilton needs to do on Sunday is claim his 10th win of the year and hope Vettel finishes no greater than third if he is to win the title, even Rosberg in second behind Hamilton would not be enough for either men to keep Hamilton from the title. Realistically Sebastian and Nico need Lewis to fail to score any points and one of them win the race if they are to remain in the title race.

As things stand, Hamilton carries a 66-point lead going into America with a maximum of 100 left to play for over the final four races. After the US GP this weekend, Hamilton could be sitting on a lead greater than the 75 to play for and name himself a three-time Formula One World Champion, match the amount set by his hero Ayrton Senna and be the first British F1 driver to win back-to-back titles. Until potentially this year, no British driver has ever retained their crown.

Lewis Hamilton, US Grand Prix 2014 - Copyright Dave Wilson

Lewis has already taken nine wins this season meaning no driver can secure more Grand Prix victories in 2015 than him after his recent victory at the Sochi Autodrom to take his second Russian Grand Prix win.

Back in Russia, Rosberg had actually been leading from the off before his retirement due to his throttle sticking, but this did not prevent the Mercedes team from claiming the Constructors Championship and retain their 2014 crown after Raikkonen was demoted down the order for causing a collision with Bottas that cost both a podium shot.

And now with the constructors title wrapped up, the team can party like in Russia with Lewis potentially winning his second title with the team at a track he has also claimed more than one victory at.

Lewis’ most recent victory in the US came last year as he went on to win the 2014 Drivers title. But victories in the US have also came for Lewis in years he did not go on to win the title, with Hamilton winning the last Formula One race held at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway in 2007 and the first Formula One race held at the Circuit of the Americas in 2012, during his final year at McLaren.

Sebastian Vettel - USGP 2014 - Copyright: Joe McGowan

In 2013, Sebastian Vettel claimed the win in the States and will need to do so again this year if he is to remain in the title race for Ferrari, who are without a title since Kimi Raikkonen snatched the 2007 World Drivers Title from both Lewis Hamilton and Fernando Alonso by just one point at the final race of the year.

However, Vettel’s chances of taking victory in Austin this weekend and keeping his foot in the fight took a serious dent when Ferrari confirmed on Thursday that both Seb and Kimi would be using new engines for the US Grand Prix. As this is Vettel’s fifth of the season, he will receive a 10-place grid penalty for the race.

With the standings the way they are at the moment, a final day of drama is still possible should Hamilton be unable to wrap up the title in the next three rounds despite his current commanding lead.

COTA Turn 1 - USGP 2012 - Copyright: Rachel Clarke

For this year’s race the Circuit of the Americas track remains unchanged since the 5.513KM track, designed by Hermann Tilke in collaboration with the American architectural firm HKS, was opened on October 21, 2012 by COTA ambassador and 1978 F1 world champion, Mario Andretti.

The design of the first purpose-built F1 circuit in the United States drew inspiration from other great circuits from the F1 calendar including Silverstone, the home of the British Grand Prix, Hockenheim, one of the homes of the German Grand Prix, and Istanbul, the former home of the Grand Prix of Turkey. All these elements helped the circuit soon became a favourite of fans and drivers.

Despite taking inspiration from other tracks, the COTA design also has some elements of its own which makes it one of the best on the calendar with the changing elevation levels affecting the flow of the track, with the steepest part being the turn one hill. As well as the elevation changes, the long back straight tees up endless overtaking opportunities which are aided by DRS during the race.

USGP 2014 - Copyright: dutchbaby

For the 2015 US GP, Sky Sports have exclusive live TV coverage in the UK while the BBC will be providing their usual live radio coverage supported by highlight packages on TV. This could also be the first time that Sky will be exclusively screening the title clinching race since they began their coverage in 2012.

Being a potential title clinching race, the exclusivity also creates a controversial moment from a broadcasting side given that there will be no live free-to-air coverage of the race highlighting the push by the media towards pay-to-watch TV.

Regardless of the possibilities this weekend provides, coverage begins on Thursday with the Drivers’ Press Conference on Sky Sports F1 while BBC’s coverage starts with their preview.

Thursday October 22
17:00 – Drivers’ Press Conference – Live (Sky Sports F1)
20:45 – Paddock Uncut (Sky Sports F1)
21:00 – Preview (BBC Radio 5 Live)

Friday October 23
15:45 – US GP Practice One – Live (Sky Sports F1)
15:55 – US GP Practice One – Live (BBC Radio 5 Live Sports Extra)
19:45 – US GP Practice Two – Live (Sky Sports F1)
19:55 – US GP Practice Two – Live (BBC Radio 5 Live Sports Extra)
22:00 – Team Principals’ Press Conference – Live (Sky Sports F1)
00:00 – The F1 Show – Live (Sky Sports F1)

Saturday October 24
15:45 – US GP Practice Three – Live (Sky Sports F1)
16:00 – US GP Practice Three – Live (BBC Radio 5 Live Sports Extra)
18:00 – US GP Qualifying – Live (Sky Sports F1)
18:55 – US GP Qualifying – Live (BBC Radio 5 Live Sports Extra)
21:45 – US GP Qualifying – Highlights (BBC 2)
22:15 – US GP Qualifying – Highlights (Sky Sports F1)
23:25 – Ted’s Qualifying Notebook (Sky Sports F1)

Sunday October 25
17:30 – The 2015 US GP – Track Parade – Live (Sky Sports F1)
18:00 – The 2015 US GP – Pit lane – Live (Sky Sports F1)
18:30 – The 2015 US GP – Race – Live (Sky Sports F1)
18:30 – The 2015 US GP – Race – Live (BBC Radio 5 Live Sports Extra)
21:30 – The 2015 US GP – Paddock Live (Sky Sports F1)
22:30 – The 2015 US GP – Race – Highlights (BBC 1)
23:45 – The 2015 US GP – Race – Highlights (Sky Sports F1)

Monday October 26
00:45 & Throughout the day – Ted’s Race Notebook (Sky Sports F1)
01:00 & Throughout the day – US GP – Race – Highlights (Sky Sports F1)
13:30 – US GP – Race – Highlights (BBC 2)
20:00 – US GP – Race – Replay (Sky Sports F1)