It is the battle for positions in the Formula One Constructors’ Championship that will take centre stage this weekend as the paddock travels across the Atlantic for the United States Grand Prix (19:00 GMT, live on Sky Sports F1), the penultimate race of the 2013 season.
Red Bull have already been confirmed as constructors’ champions, but Mercedes, Ferrari and Lotus are currently embroiled in a three-way battle for second, while Force India still have an outside chance of pipping McLaren to fifth. These positions dictate prize money payments, so there is much at stake.
Sebastian Vettel continued his incredible run of consecutive race wins with victory in Abu Dhabi two weeks ago. The Red Bull driver, who has already sealed the Drivers’ Championship, has won each of the last seven races and has a number of records in his sights.
Vettel aside, Force India’s Paul Di Resta was the most impressive performer in Abu Dhabi, coming through from 12th on the grid to finish sixth. His teammate, Adrian Sutil, also finished in the points, allowing the team to pull comfortably clear of Sauber and reset their focus on McLaren ahead.
The drivers appeared to enjoy their first experience of the Circuit of the Americas in Austin, Texas when it debuted last year. The track features a mix of high and low speed corners, some of which are modelled after famous corners from other circuits. The first and third sectors will suit those teams whose cars work well in high downforce conditions.
Pirelli have echoed last year’s tyre selection by choosing their medium and hard compounds for this weekend’s event. Current weather forecasts indicate that a warm, cloudy weekend awaits.
Vettel (pictured) is one win away from setting a new record of eight consecutive victories in one season, while Alberto Ascari’s longstanding outright record of nine consecutive victories is in touching distance if he can win both of the remaining races this year.
The German driver secured pole position at last year’s United States Grand Prix before Lewis Hamilton pipped him to victory with an excellent overtake towards the end of the race. This year’s Red Bull is further ahead of the rest of the field and Vettel is clear favourite for the race victory on Sunday, although the odds are far from attractive.
Vettel’s teammate, Mark Webber, has been more competitive in qualifying for recent races, taking two of the last three pole positions, but we believe Vettel will have the edge this weekend, making him a solid bet to both qualify on pole position and take the race victory.
Sergio Perez has this week announced that he will leave the McLaren team at the end of the year, with Formula Renault 3.5 champion Kevin Magnussen widely expected to be his replacement. This weekend’s event is as close as Perez gets to a home race and with a sizeable Mexican support expected he will be determined to perform well.
Perez has made it into the last part of qualifying in each of the last two races and McLaren seem confident that their car will perform well at the Circuit of the Americas. With the support of his compatriots behind him, Perez has a good chance of again cracking the top 10 in qualifying this weekend.
Romain Grosjean has been one of the most impressive performers in the latter part of the season, taking his Lotus to three podium finishes in the last four races. He will be expected to lead the team’s fight for second in the constructors’ championship, with teammate Kimi Raikkonen sidelined for the final two races after undergoing back surgery.
Grosjean finished third in both Korea and Japan, tracks that share certain similarities with the Circuit of the Americas. With relatively high temperatures forecast, conditions should be optimal for his car and Grosjean has shown the necessary speed and race smarts in recent Grand Prix to suggest that he is more than capable of securing another podium finish on Sunday.
Paul Di Resta endured a bit of nightmare in the middle of the season, finishing just twice in a seven race pointless run. The Scotsman has, however, come back into form over the last month or so, finishing eighth in India and a superb sixth in Abu Dhabi.
Force India have seen both of their cars finish in the points in each of the last two races and are cautiously optimistic of continuing that run at a circuit where Nico Hulkenberg finished eighth for the team last year. With uncertainty surrounding his future, Di Resta will know there is no better way to prove his worth than with another strong points finish on Sunday.
F1 United States Grand Prix Betting Tips Verdict
- Back Sebastian Vettel to be both the fastest qualifier and race winner @ 8/11 with SkyBet.
- Bet on Sergio Perez to reach qualifying session three @ 4/6 with Ladbrokes.
- Back Romain Grosjean to finish on the podium @ 13/8 with Bet365 or BetVictor.
- Bet on Paul Di Resta to finish in the points @ 11/10 with BetVictor or William Hill.