5 Headlines To Watch Out For On Race Day In Austin
The run is over for Ferrari! The Prancing Horses have taken every pole position in Formula One since Spa, an extremely nice run of seven races, and whilst Vettel was only 0.012 seconds off making it eight, it was Valtteri Bottas who simply dominated qualifying to end their run of pole positions and take his first pole position since Silverstone back in July.
It was a close qualifying, with the top four being separated by just one tenth of a second, promising an interesting and high-stakes race this evening. Here are five headlines to watch out for on race day at Austin.
Straight away I’m diving into a point that is bound to come up in the race. Last year it was Raikkonen who won the race by doing an excellent two stop strategy whilst Hamilton in the end was forced to do three, and around COTA, even though there are two great overtaking opportunities, strategy is certainly the easier way to win a race.
The tyres are lasting longer than the fans would have hoped, meaning that due to the top five all starting on the mediums, we’ll likely see an attempted one stop, changing onto the hard tyres later on in the race, or if one of them can really manage their tyres to perfection, change onto the softs right at the end.
But for a team like Ferrari, it could afford to shake up their strategy like they did in Mexico. They don’t have anything to fight over for in the constructors nor drivers championship to any significance, and with Vettel starting P2 and Leclerc P4, they could afford to at worst put one of them out until the canvas starts falling off of their tyres to try and do a medium-soft one stop, or a two stop medium-soft-soft strategy.
RED BULL TO HAVE A TRICK UP THEIR SLEEVE WITH ALBON
Red Bull will be relatively satisfied with how qualifying turned out. Verstappen was within a tenth of pole position, and will be starting P3 on the clean side of the track.
Though he may not be the favourite at the moment (he is for me), we all just have to remember his drive from P18 to P2 at last years race. We mustn’t rule him out.
But Red Bull have an extra card they can play, in Alex Albon. The Thai-Brit has been having a storming weekend, and in the end whilst P6 on the surface might seem disappointing (he was four tenths of Verstappen’s quali lap), he has a big role to play in Red Bull’s attempt to take just a third race win of the year.
Albon will be starting on the soft tyres, the only big driver to be doing so, meaning effectively, he will be on a two stop race with a change to the mediums and then back to the softs the most likely scenario.
Red Bull have decent race pace, and if the Red Bull strategists can find a gap in the track between Albon’s pitstops, there’s no reason why he couldn’t leapfrog the likes of Hamiton or Leclerc, or maybe even get onto the podium himself.
THE MCLAREN DOMINANCE CONTINUES
You couldn’t ask for much more could you if you were down at McLaren? After what was their worst Sunday in Mexico for months last weekend, the British outfit have sprung back and once again locked out the fourth row of the grid despite heavy competition from Toro Rosso and Renault, but in the end it was clear they were in a league of their own.
McLaren also have the best race pace of the midfield, although they have competition close behind from Toro Rosso, Renault and Alfa Romeo. Could they score double points again?
CAN MAGNUSSEN SNAG A POINT?
Haas would have been thouroughly pleased with qualifying yesterday. The American outfit have resided themselves to the sidelines, starting their work on the 2020 spec early, however it was clear that they would give one last shot with their home race at Austin, and to be fair to them, they gave it a great shot, taking P12 and P15 in qualifying.
For Magnussen, he faces a tall order in snagging a point for Haas, and despite having fresh tyre choice, we all know how bad the Haas is when it comes to tyre management and race pace, but nevertheless, the twenty-six year old Dane will surely give it his all.
OH... AND HAMILTON TO TAKE HIS SIXTH TITLE
Need I say more? A P5 in qualifying was his worst qualifying result of the year, but Hamilton only needs to finish in the top nine to secure his third consecutive world championship.
So what do you think? Will Bottas be able to take his fourth win of the season and continue this surge in performance, or will Vettel be able to put Ferrari back on track, or will Verstappen finally take Red Bull's first win since Germany, nay, first podium since Singapore? Please leave your thoughts in the comments section below.