Lewis Hamilton extended his lead at the top of the Formula One Drivers’ Championship by winning in Russia last time out and will be confident of emerging victorious at this weekend’s United States Grand Prix as well (Race: Sunday, 20:00 GMT, live on Sky Sports F1).
Hamilton took advantage of the early retirement of his Mercedes team-mate and pole-sitter Nico Rosberg to secure his ninth victory of the season in Russia. In doing so, he increased his advantage at the top of standings to 66 points with four races remaining.
Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel moved into second place in the championship by finishing second on the road in Russia, ahead of Sergio Perez, who went from third to fifth and back to third on the last lap following a collision between Vettel’s team-mate Kimi Raikkonen and the Williams of Valtteri Bottas (pictured). It was Perez and Force India’s first podium finish of the season.
Felipe Massa came home fourth for Williams, ahead of the Red Bull of home-favourite Daniil Kyvat and the Sauber of Felipe Nasr. It was Nasr and Sauber’s best result since his fifth-place finish in the opening race of the season. Pastor Maldonado secured his second-consecutive points finish for Lotus in seventh, ahead of the limping Ferrari of Raikkonen.
Jenson Button notched McLaren’s first points in five races by coming home ninth, while Max Verstappen rounded out the top 10 for Toro Rosso.
The Circuit of the Americas in Austin, Texas will play host to its fourth United States Grand Prix this weekend. The track was purpose built for Formula One and is generally well-liked by the drivers, primarily thanks to the challenging, sweeping corners of its first sector. The run down to the first corner and the long back straight provide the best overtaking opportunities.
Current weather forecasts suggest that it will be a cloudy weekend with temperatures in the early-to-mid twenties. There is a solid chance of rain appearing during qualifying on Saturday but Sunday should be dry. Pirelli have selected their soft and medium compound tyres, which are the same compounds they brought to last year’s event.
Hamilton is fast closing in on his second consecutive drivers’ championship and could even seal it this weekend if results go his way. Victory on Sunday would require Vettel to finish no lower than second in order to keep the championship battle alive. It would also remove Rosberg from the picture, regardless of his own result at the Circuit of the Americas.
Hamilton has been in excellent form since the summer break, winning four of the last five races. He also has a strong previous record at the United States Grand Prix, having won two of the three races in Austin in addition to his victory in the last race in Indianapolis back in 2007. He can be expected to head the field on both Saturday and Sunday this time out.
Lotus struggled for pace at last season’s United States Grand Prix but are confident that the slightly earlier start time and an aged track surface will assist them in overcoming the grip problems that proved to be their undoing this time last year. Romain Grosjean, in particular, will be optimistic of running well at a circuit at which he has performed well in the past.
The French driver qualified third and finished second in 2013 and also qualified fourth (before finishing seventh) in 2012. He has out-qualified his team-mate Maldonado in 14 of the 15 races so far this season, en route to qualifying in the top 10 on 12 occasions. He can again be expected to reach the final session of qualifying on Saturday.
Perez continued his impressive run of form with an excellent third-place finish in Russia last time out, securing what was just the third podium of his Formula One career to date. It was his sixth points finish in the last eight races, his third top-six finish in the last five and a result that saw him move 16 points clear of team-mate Nico Hulkenberg in the standings.
Force India have generally shown strong pace since the introduction of their B-Spec car at Silverstone in early July and have seen at least one of their two cars finish in the top six in four of the last five races. They came away pointless from last year’s United States Grand Prix but are optimistic of securing a strong result this weekend.
Perez finished seventh in Austin for McLaren back in 2012 and can be fancied to go at least one better on Sunday.