This weekend’s round of the 2019 Formula One World Championship in Austin, Texas, will be the 41st to go by the name of United States Grand Prix. However, there have been a total of 69 F1 races held in the U.S., though not all of these counted toward the championship. Two of those were even held in the car park of Caesars Palace in Las Vegas.
Today, the U.S. race has a dedicated home in the form of the Circuit of the Americas. Despite being one of the newer locations on the F1 calendar—the first race was in 2012—COTA has already made a name for itself as a track capable of showing off F1 cars at their best, primarily as it has been designed specifically with F1 in mind.
In particular, the 3.43-mile track has an eclectic mix of 20 corners, some of them reminiscent of corners from past and present F1 circuits. There are also more fast corners than Spa-Francorchamps and more slow corners than the Hungaroring—a combination that makes this track a huge challenge for both teams and drivers. However, the uphill hairpin of Turn 1 stands out as COTA’s signature corner.
Unpredictable weather can be an issue here. Looking at this weekend’s forecast for Austin, we should see fine but cool conditions throughout the weekend. Pirelli has nominated its C2, C3 and C4 compounds. Interestingly, teams during Friday’s practice session will get their first taste of Pirelli’s tires for the 2020 season.
Going into Saturday’s qualifying session and Sunday’s race, Mercedes-AMG’s Lewis Hamilton will probably be sleeping easy. Even if fellow Mercedes driver Valtteri Bottas wins in Austin, Hamilton only needs to finish eighth—or ninth with the fastest lap bonus—to secure the title.
Hamilton leads the 2019 Drivers’ Championship with 363 points, versus the 289 of Bottas and 236 of Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc. In the Constructors’ Championship, Mercedes has already won the title and currently sits on 652 points. Ferrari is second with 466 points and Aston Martin Red Bull Racing is third with 341 points. Last year’s winner in Austin was Kimi Raikkonen driving for Ferrari.