United States Grand Prix preview

Preview the 2016 United States Grand Prix.

Formula One goes Stateside once more for round 18, the US Grand Prix. A race that crowned Hamilton the 2015 world champion and will play a key part of the 2016 title race – with last year’s victor chasing down his Mercedes team-mate with four rounds to go. 

Last time Formula One hit the track, in Japan, Hamilton once again scuppered his best chance of victory off the line as he slumped down the order. A recurring theme in 2016 for the three-time F1 title holder.

Now Hamilton heads to Austin, Texas facing a 33-point deficit to Rosberg. With Nico victorious on nine occasions this year – more than half of the races thus far. As well as carrying dominance on Saturday, claiming a front row start at each race along with eight poles.

Hamilton may have also claimed eight pole positions this season, but he has only started three races from the front row when not on pole. Although at three of the six other Grand Prix’s, mechanical failures – and banking engines in Belgium – were the cause.

Lewis has also only converted three of those poles into wins. Taking P1 on both Saturday and Sunday at the Canada, Austrian and British rounds of the championship. Nico conversely has only failed to convert pole into the 25-points on two occasions.

Nico Rosberg recovering from his first lap spin in Malaysia, caused by Sebastian Vettel. Photo credit: Imankram7

Nico Rosberg recovering from his first lap spin in Malaysia caused by Sebastian Vettel. Photo credit: Imankram7

Time jump to 12 months ago, and Hamilton was arriving in Austin knowing a win on Sunday and the title was his for the third time. Even Rosberg crossing the line in second place would not have been enough to prevent the Briton.

Then came the chaos caused by Hurricane Patricia, pushing qualifying back to Sunday morning as the Circuit of the Americas became awash with rain and spectators told to stay away. But on Sunday, when Q3 was cancelled after more rainfall, Rosberg was left with pole position thanks to topping Q2. Yet the race was another story.

From the off, Hamilton sought to get ahead of Rosberg. Pushing the German wide and off track through the first corner. Then mixed conditions brought Red Bull into play, changing the race.

Safety Cars and Virtual Safety Cars then played their part in proceedings as Ericsson ran over Nasr’s front wing and later into the wall at turn 11. Before Hulkenberg’s suspension broke and Kvyat span into the barrier.

The safety car for Kvyat’s spin handed Rosberg back the lead of the race as Hamilton was forced to stop for fresh tyres. But in the final momentum swing of the day, a near miss came for Nico as he lit up his rears and avoided the barrier – putting Hamilton back into championship position.

Lewis Hamilton celebrates his third Formula One Drivers' World Championship title. Photo Credit: Mike Boudreaux.

Lewis Hamilton celebrates his third Formula One Drivers’ World Championship. Photo Credit: Mike Boudreaux.

This time, Hamilton winning from Rosberg would mean the deficit Nico holds over the reigning champion would fall by seven – leaving Rosberg 26-points ahead with three races still on the calendar.

Hamilton may then go on to win the remaining races, but Rosberg coming home second best in Mexico, Brazil and Abu Dhabi would still see the German take the title by five points. Meaning the title is out of Hamilton’s control as things stand.

Circuit of the Americas track guide. Copyright Formula1.com

Circuit of the Americas track guide. Copyright Formula1.com

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.

Lewis Hamilton, Formula 1 World Champion 2015

Lewis Hamilton at the 2015 USGP. Photo Credit: Dave Wilson

The United States Grand Prix will once again be exclusively live on TV in England via Sky Sports. With the subscription-based service broadcasting the weekend on their dedicated F1 channel, as well as select sessions on Sky Sports 1 and Sky Sports Mix.

Wednesday, October 19
20:30 – The F1 Report

Thursday, October 20
17:00 – Drivers’ Press Conference – Live
20:00 – Preview (BBC Radio 5 Live)
23:00 – Paddock Uncut

Friday, October 21
15:45 – United States GP – Practice One – Live (also Sky Sports Mix)
15:55 – United States GP – Practice One (BBC Radio 5 Live Sports Extra)
19:45 – United States GP – Practice Two – Live
22:00 – Team Principals’ Press Conference – Live
22:30 – The F1 Show – Live

Saturday, October 22
15:45 – United States GP – Practice Three – Live
18:00 – United States GP – Qualifying – Build-up – Live
19:00 – United States GP – Qualifying – Live
22:00 – United States GP – Qualifying – Highlights (Channel 4)
23:35 – Ted’s Qualifying Notebook

Sunday, October 23
18:30 – United States GP – Track Parade – Live
19:00 – United States GP – Pitlane – Live
19:30 – United States GP – Race (BBC Radio 5 Live)
20:00 – United States GP – Race – Live (also Sky Sports 1)
22:30 – United States GP – Paddock Live
23:00 – United States GP – Race – Highlights (Channel 4)

*Times above are for Sky Sports F1 unless stated.