- Credit: Haas F1 Team


With grid penalties out of the way and six points between the title contenders, here's five things to look out for in Austin.

13w ago

1. US Happy Hunting Grounds for Lewis Hamilton

Credit: Mercedes-AMG Petronas F1

Credit: Mercedes-AMG Petronas F1

Returning to the United States for the first time in two years, historical statistics would indicate that Lewis Hamilton is the favourite heading into this weekend.

The British driver has recorded a total of six victories in the states, more than any other driver. In fact, no driver on the current grid has ever won the United States Grand Prix more than once in their careers. Five of those wins came on the Circuit of the Americas when it was introduced to the scene in 2012.

Furthermore, Hamilton secured two of his seven world championships on this track in 2015 and 2019, following title duels with his respective teammates.

On the other side, Verstappen has secured two podiums in the USA. One of those two podiums saw him finish in second place in 2018 after starting eighteenth on the grid. Despite this, Verstappen has never stood at the top of the podium during his time at Red Bull.

Meanwhile, Red Bull themselves have not taken victory on this track in the turbo-hybrid era. Their last (and only victory) in the States was in 2013, during a dominant display across that year with Sebastian Vettel on his way to securing that season's driver's championship.

But whilst the statistics sway heavily in the favour of Hamilton this weekend, that doesn't mean a guaranteed victory for the Mercedes driver in the heat of such a close and exhilarating championship fight.

2. Does mercedes have the stronger straight-line speed than red bull?

Credit: Mercedes-AMG Petronas F1

Credit: Mercedes-AMG Petronas F1

One of the big talking points following the Turkish Grand Prix's was Mercedes' straight-line speed throughout the race.

In an article from RacingNews365, Helmut Marko suggested that the difference between the Power units is about 15km/h in favour of Mercedes. Throughout the season, teams such as Red Bull and Ferrari have voiced their concerns to the FIA about the legitimacy of Mercedes' engines, but so far no investigations have been made that have found the German manufacturer liable of any wrongdoings.

If Marko's statement is true, then this will have huge implications for the remainder of the championship fight. With little tracks left on the calendar that do not rely on power, such as Monaco or Hungary, Mercedes' power unit advantage will aid their drivers both in qualifying and in the main race.

In qualifying for the Turkish Grand Prix, Mercedes were at least two tenths ahead of Verstappen as they secured a front-row lockout. During the race, Bottas was able to pull away from Verstappen without too much difficulty whilst Hamilton was able to clear his way through the field before a strategic call saw him finish the race in fifth.

The above is only based on one race so it must be taken with a pinch of salt, but it will be interesting to see if Mercedes can keep this form up or whether Red Bull will be able to retaliate.

3. bottas' confidence ahead of the return to the usa

Credit: Mercedes-AMG Petronas F1

Credit: Mercedes-AMG Petronas F1

Adding further into a potentially optimistic weekend for Mercedes is Valtteri Bottas' commanding win last time out in Turkey. The Finnish driver took his tenth Formula One victory a fortnight ago, his first win in over a year following the 2020 Russian Grand Prix.

Bottas has endured a difficult season in 2021, a combination of bad luck and struggling to keep up with the pace of his teammate has not only seen him out of the championship fight but also seeing his time at Mercedes concluded at the end of the year. But since this announcement and the news that he would be joining Alfa Romeo to replace the retiring Kimi Raikkonen, Bottas' season is taking a positive turn.

An impressive and solid display from Bottas in the last three races will be crucial in helping him to boost his confidence as he heads into a lead-driver role at Alfa Romeo, where the team will be hoping their new driver can lead them to championship glory with the new 2022 regulations.

With Bottas still close to teammate Hamilton in qualifying, Mercedes will be relying on the Finn to remain ahead of Verstappen to help the seven-time world champion reduce the deficit in the Driver's championship as well as extending Mercedes' lead in the Constructor's championship.

4. ferrari not too far behind mclaren

Credit: Scuderia Ferrari

Credit: Scuderia Ferrari

Another close fight that is worth keeping an eye on is the battle between McLaren and Ferrari. The two teams are separated by seven and a half points in the Constructor's standings and with Ferrari introducing their new power units in the previous two races, there could be many more twists in their battle.

The fight between the two teams continues to go as back and forth as the battle between Hamilton Verstappen for the 2021 title. For instance, McLaren was able to outscore Ferrari by four points in Russia before Ferrari took ten points back in Turkey. The McLaren 1-2 finish in Italy, however, has helped keep them ahead of the Italian Manufacturer as they gained a total of twenty-three points in an advantage.

The question now lies with Ferrari's power unit, and how much of an advantage this will give them for the remainder of the season. Whilst Charles Leclerc did confirm some advantage is being gained from the engine following an interview with F1.com, no official statements have been made to quantify the difference between its old and new power unit.

Leclerc alongside his new teammate Carlos Sainz is proving to be a formidable team. Both appear to have confidence in their machinery, enabling them both to find increased levels of speed and consistency. But McLaren have also been on exceptional form with Lando Norris across the whole season, as well as Ricciardo, who found much-needed confidence following the summer break combined with his first victory in almost three years since his departure from Red Bull.

In this fight, something will have to give between these two titans of Formula One as they fight for third in the Constructor's championship.

5. No news on the second alfa romeo seat

Credit: Alfa Romeo Racing ORLEN

Credit: Alfa Romeo Racing ORLEN

With most of the grid confirmed for 2022, there is still no confirmation on who will be partnering Valtteri Bottas at Alfa Romeo for next season.

Antonio Giovinazzi currently sits eighteenth in the Driver's Championship behind teammate Kimi Raikkonen, which he scored in the Monaco Grand Prix. Despite Giovinazzi generally having a good measure on his teammate in qualifying, including two Q3 appearances, the Italian driver has struggled in races to convert those performances into points for the team.

Driver's such as F2's Guanyu Zhou and Oscar Piastri have been linked to potentially replacing Giovinazzi next season, although Piastri admitted in an interview with JAM Sports that he is not confident that seat will be his for 2022. Adding into the rumours of Michael Andretti spotted with Sauber and a potential takeover by Andretti have also circulated the speculation as to the situation at Alfa Romeo.

Whether a decision on Giovinazzi's seat for 2022 has been made yet is currently unclear. Regardless, Giovinazzi will need to continue to drive at his best and aim for more points to prove he is capable of continuing with Alfa Romeo. If he has lost his seat, then strong drives will still be needed to attract the attention of other teams to maybe consider himself as part of their team in the future.

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