Daniel Ricciardo, Red Bull, Circuit of the Americas, 2014

US driver today, US team tomorrow: F1’s American future looks bright

2015 United States Grand Prix preview

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Track data: Circuit of the Americas

Lap length5.513km (3.426 miles)
Grand prix distance308.728km (191.835 miles)
Lap record (in a race)1’39.347 (Sebastian Vettel, 2012)
Fastest lap (any session)1’35.657 (Sebastian Vettel, 2012, qualifying three)
Tyre compoundsSoft and medium
2014 Rate the Race7.33 out of 10
2014 Driver of the WeekendLewis Hamilton

*Fastest lap set during a Grand Prix

Track data in full

As the Circuit of the Americas prepares to host its fourth United States Grand Prix this weekend, Formula One’s future in America has seldom looked more promising.

For the first time since 2007 the USA fans have a home driver to cheer on. Granted, Alexander Rossi may not be in a front-running team but he will be familiar with the crowd from his practice run at the track with Caterham two years ago.

Next year American team Haas, already well-known thanks to their successful NASCAR squad, is set to debut having allied with the biggest name in Formula One: Ferrari.

And while the prospect of an American world champion might seem a long way off, Lewis Hamilton might well be the next best thing, and the chances are good he will wrap up his third title on Sunday.

Through his celebrity connections, America has almost become an adopted homeland for Hamilton. Last year he gave an interview to the ABC network prior to the race weekend in which he suggested he might raise a family in America in the future.

A Hamilton coronation will happen if he has a minimum of 75 points over his closest rival when the chequered flag falls on Sunday. That will happen if he wins the race – as he previously did in 2012 and 2014 – and Sebastian Vettel does not finish second. For other permutations which could settle the championship, see the Points Calculator.

Alexander Rossi, Manor, Singapore, 2015
Rossi will take a bow at home
Mercedes can expect to enjoy their usual margin of superiority at a track which has a fairly high ‘power effect’ – the performance of the power unit has a significant bearing on lap time. Energy recovery in the braking zones is vital to reduce fuel consumption at a venue where more petrol is used per kilometre than most venues.

The steep gradient at points around the circuit – including the one-in-eight climb to turn one – puts oil pressure systems under added strain and forces turbochargers to spin at higher speeds as the cars climb.

The tyre selection remains the same as last year: soft and medium rubber will be available. The COTA surface was very low in grip when F1 first visited the track three years ago, but with several series including the World Endurance Championship visiting the venue it has improved over time.

Pirelli motor sport director Paul Hembery expects to see “the wide variety of strategies used last year”, although 12 months ago almost every driver used a two-stop strategy starting with the soft compound.

United States Grand Prix team-by-team preview

Mercedes

Unreliability is the X-factor for Mercedes after three race-day breakdowns in the last four grands prix. Nico Rosberg’s most recent failure potentially cost him victory in Russia and certainly hastened the demise of his championship chances.

“For Nico, bad luck has played a big part this year and it would be a huge mountain to climb,” admitted executive director Toto Wolff, who added the team’s recent reliability was “not up to our standards”.

Red Bull

With Mercedes and Ferrari engines seemingly off the table for Red Bull, will they now try to make amends with Renault? An indication may come from whether they take advantage of the opportunity to use Renault’s upgraded power unit.

“The principal changes involve the internals of the ICE to give improved power and efficiency,” explained Renault director of operations Remi Taffin. “Introducing the new PU will incur a grid penalty so the decision to use will be made in full consultation with the teams.”

Williams

Third place in the constructors’ championship for the second year running is virtually assured for Williams, despite the disappointment of Valtteri Bottas being shunted off the podium by Kimi Raikkonen two weeks ago.

Nonetheless they’re keeping a close eye on their closest rivals. “The circuit suits our car so we should have a good race,” said performance chief Rob Smedley. “We need to keep pulling open a gap on Red Bull and the team must keep on fighting to get as many points as possible.”

Ferrari

With four engine tokens left to spend, Ferrari was entertaining the possibility of upgrading its power unit this weekend. But with Vettel still holding a slim chance of taking the drivers’ title, and with engine development potentially being opened up next season, the value of risking an early upgrade this early is reduced. The problems Mercedes encountered after trying the same at Monza shows the potential downside to such a gamble.

McLaren

While the track surface may have improved compared to the first race, it caught McLaren out 12 months ago. “Last year we really struggled with tyre degradation on the relatively new asphalt,” said Jenson Button, “so we need to crack that as soon as we get out on track on Friday and see what we can do to combat it.”

Force India

The team is buzzing from its podium at the last race. “It’s very satisfying to get some more silverware for our trophy cabinet at Silverstone,” said Vijay Mallya. “Ever since the introduction of the b-spec car I knew that we had the potential to do something special.”

Toro Rosso

Despite having raced in Russia following his huge practice crash Carlos Sainz Jnr subsequently revealed he felt dizzy during the race, and last weekend he cancelled a planned appearance at the World Series by Renault finale in Spain.

Nonetheless that he will have to get to grips with COTA quickly, as unlike his team mate he has only previously driven it in the simulator.

Lotus

Lotus’s first job this weekend is to fix Romain Grosjean’s wrecked car from Sochi. “There is no indication in the data and in the parts that anything broke and subsequently caused the accident,” explained technical director Nick Chester. “The right-hand side of the car suffered the damage – front and rear suspension right hand side, the nose, the rear wing, crash structure. We haven’t seen anything however that should stop us getting the car back together.”

Sauber

The team will mark its 400th appearance at an F1 race weekend in Austin, and Ferrari test driver Raffaele Marciello will have another practice run in one of their car’s.

Manor

Rossi returns in place of Merhi and will be a centre of attention for the team off the track – but on it there’s no reason to expect it won’t be back-of-the-grid business as usual.

2015 driver form

DriverGrid averageRace averageRace bestRace worstClassifiedForm guide
Lewis Hamilton1.471.711614/15Form guide
Nico Rosberg2.333.5711714/15Form guide
Daniel Ricciardo8.138.3821513/15Form guide
Daniil Kvyat10.737.6221313/14Form guide
Felipe Massa7.407.2131714/15Form guide
Valtteri Bottas5.736.7131414/15Form guide
Sebastian Vettel4.473.3311215/15Form guide
Kimi Raikkonen6.535.002812/15Form guide
Fernando Alonso15.6411.385188/14Form guide
Jenson Button16.2712.338169/14Form guide
Nico Hulkenberg10.679.4061510/15Form guide
Sergio Perez11.078.8631314/15Form guide
Max Verstappen12.009.9141711/15Form guide
Carlos Sainz Jnr12.2710.118139/15Form guide
Romain Grosjean9.408.5031310/15Form guide
Pastor Maldonado11.4710.007157/15Form guide
Marcus Ericsson13.8711.6281413/15Form guide
Felipe Nasr13.4011.1452014/14Form guide
Will Stevens17.7915.83131912/13Form guide
Roberto Merhi18.0815.18121811/12Form guide
Kevin Magnussen17.000/0Form guide
Alexander Rossi19.5016.0014182/2Form guide

Are you going to the United States Grand Prix?

Kimi Raikkonen, Pastor Maldonado, Circuit of the Americas, 2014
Will you be in the crowd at COTA?
If you’re heading to United States for this weekend’s race, we want to hear from you.

We’ve got a dedicated group and forum for people going to the race.

You can embed your pictures from the race via Flickr and videos via YouTube and other major video-sharing accounts. Join in here:

Over to you

Who do you think will be the team to beat in the United States Grand Prix? Have your say below.

And don’t forget to enter your predictions for this weekend’s race. You can edit your predictions until the start of qualifying:

2015 United States Grand Prix

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Author information

Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

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39 comments on “US driver today, US team tomorrow: F1’s American future looks bright”

  1. It’s great that there’s a successful race in the States again, and that Rossi will be driving.

    Hard to see Lewis being beaten, maybe we’ll get Seb vs Nico. My main hope is that the three non-Merc engines have a good weekend.

  2. That’s all good and well, but as a Yank if I wasn’t an F1 fan I wouldn’t have the faintest idea there was a race on. There has been nothing in the print, on the interwebs, or on TV to suggest there is even such a thing as Formula 1. Yes, Rossi is driving, but who knows that? Not anyone in America. This is a huge failure of F1 to promote itself. Rather than gaining traction F1 is fading away over here.

    1. RB (@frogmankouki)
      21st October 2015, 14:53

      I agree the coverage is pretty dismal, although I have seen a few adverts for the race in the last week, which is quite surprising. I still wish there was a way around NBC, the lack of media coverage can largely be attributed to them. On any race weekend, they broadcast the minimum amount of F1 coverage, yet they will have NASCAR programming for 5-6 hours everyday. Maybe one day FOM will offer streaming packages like WEC.

      1. Yes, the NBC coverage (or lack thereof) is dismal. The fact that one needs a cable TV subscription to even get the broadcast doesn’t help at all. Like many here in the US of A my wife and I have chosen to not get cable TV and its 150 channels of cr*p we would never watch. It is a vast wasteland out there and having to pay not only for the basic cable , but an added charge to get the NBC sports channel has effectively hidden F1 from America. To add insult to injury the NBC coverage is awful with long commercial breaks and most races are run at (for me) 5:00am. If I watch a race, which is becoming less and less frequent, I watch the Sky coverage via the interwebs. The picture quality is not great, but it’s way better than watching the NBC broadcast.

        It’s funny how Bernie goes back and forth with the US market. The proposed race(s) in New Jersey and Long Beach faded away when he discovered government wouldn’t pay for it and now Bernie, in recent interviews, is dissing the market here. Long Beach was smart not take the bait and New Jersey was never going to happen. There are some great tracks here; Road America at Elkhart Lake, Laguna Seca, Road Atlanta, the Barber track in Alabama, Mid Ohio, Sears Point………… Any one of those would make for a great race, but the sanctioning fees are ridiculous and no track owner can make money. All the on track advertising revenues go to Bernie and all the TV rights fees go to Bernie; no one else can make money out of this show. Too bad. I have my doubts Austin will keep the race; they aren’t making any money on it either and the state of Texas is getting wise to the scam they are paying for each year.

    2. It’s not just in America mate, apart from a few adverts on BBC and SKY there’s very little promotion for F1 in the UK.
      I think FOM are shooting themselves in both feet by refusing to allow race promoters the right to use footage and F1 branding in adverts, it’s hard to promote an event when you’re not allowed to use highlights from previous events in your promotional material without paying ridiculous fees to the rights holders.

      1. Yes. They seem to spend a lot of time/money searching the internet to shut down even brief videos, including videos made by fans at the race. Foolish indeed.

      2. @beneboy that and I also don’t understand their silly decision of not allowing fans to post on Youtube. What could be better than that as free marketing? When F1 releases videos in their own Youtube channel, they are only one minute or less, while fans post (and then must delete) really meaningful race edits, or the progress of a driver through the years, the best overtakes, etc.

        But if you don’t pay them tons of money, you are not a worth fan.

        1. @omarr-pepper Absolutely. It’s free advertising which most businesses would love!! And those short edits really make such a difference! I got really interested in F1 partly through watching those, how many others were the same? And they are mostly very very good, it’s incredible how much more advertising even the teams would get.

          1. It’s also incredible how they’re much better at conveying speed than the FOM coverage. Perhaps they know it and that’s why they block them!

      3. @beneboy, with regards to the BBC, it is not surprising that they aren’t bothering to advertise Formula 1. They are in a situation where, due to the high production costs and a squeeze on budgets, the BBC is progressively scaling their coverage of most forms of sport full stop – for example, after being outbid by BT, the BBC has shunted their coverage of MotoGP to an obscure part of the BBC Sport website and it is now more or less ignored by the BBC.

        Even most major tournaments are being dumped for cost reasons and due to the senior management being increasingly disinterested in sports event. They probably haven’t been prepared to pay compensation for breaking their contract with FOM, but the BBC does seem to be trying to slim down their coverage in order to cut costs – which probably explains their rather apathetic attitude towards the sport.

      4. In Canada, the CBC doesn’t even list F1 results on it’s sports news website.

        1. CBC should never be used to benchmark anything though :P

    3. What a shame to know of the lack of promotion for the USGP, that’s completely different here in Mexico, the newspapers and tv/radio always mention F1 after each race, a lot of companies sponsoring the event doing contests giving away tickets or even just using the hype of the event itself as a form of publicity for themselves!
      Also the race will be transmitted live free to air which I find a bit surprising they managed to strike that deal with FOM, so yeah everyone knows about it at this point but I wish it was the same for the race in Austin, one of my favourites.

    4. except the constant ads on all the NBC outlets, you mean.

    5. I went to America for a family holiday not long ago. I was desperate not to hear the F1 result. Didn’t have to try too hard there was no mention on the news or anywhere!

    6. My theory for F1 not being popular in the States is because they don’t own it; therefore it’s no good.

  3. with engine development potentially being opened up next season

    Did I miss something here? Didn’t knew that there have been more meaningful discussions on this.

      1. @keithcollantine Thanks Keith. Missed that one.

  4. How come lotus haven’t fixed Grosjeans car yet?

    surely it hasn’t been in transit since sochi?

    1. I think they are surviving on a bare bones budget until Renault decides to purchase the team (or not).

  5. It has just occurred to me that America has an F1 circuit with other circuits that just need an upgrade to make the grade. They now also have a team and some drivers. There are some pretty shrewd business men in the States who will not have missed how much money CVC have been grabbing.

    If, as seems not unlikely, F1 finally goes belly-up, I wonder if a consortium in the States would organize a rival series? They wouldn’t give a fig what the FIA said. They have the circuits and I imagine Montreal would join in and certainly Mexico and, perhaps, even Brazil.

    Then we could all put 2 fingers up to the FIA, CVC and the evil dwarf. Wouldn’t that be nice?

    1. @accidental-mick Shows how much Indycar has fallen out of favour that you didn’t even consider it.. that’s their home grown version :P

      1. Indycar is a spec series, whereas F1 is a development series. They are not the same thing, in fact I would say they are orthogonal in thinking. Indycar (and NASCAR) want all the cars pretty close together, F1 requires each team to have different cars, with the best technical team and driver winning.

        1. Yes, but it wasn’t until the split.. who’s to say that if F1 went belly up, it could not expand once more? Perhaps re-open development? That might be a better starting point than a new series.

    2. You should really read up on who actually owns F1. There’s quite a bit of American money being used and made there… and that’s before the upcoming sale.

      Ofc I’d argue making F1 into a hedgefund has been the impetus of the demise of F1 with Mosely bearing the brunt of the blame for the current terrible regulations (especially these awful and expensive power units!)!!!

    3. Yes, but we wouldn’t have racing on some of the best circuits in the world.

    4. CAN-AM reloaded? I am in!

  6. I know in India, every channel showed something or the other related to F1 during the build up to the race.. The race organisers day Americans are eager to see Lewis’s Hamilton, is that the case?

    1. If Hamilton is a celebrity in the US it’s news to me. Maybe some of the fanboi magazines cover him, but I never see a mention in the US press, except for an occasional race win one liner. I think F1 is living in a bubble and an echo chamber.

    2. India is also the reason for the delay in HD broadcasts and while the graphic overlays aren’t pushed out to the edge of the screen instead of blocking the picture. Just saying.

      Most Americans don’t even watch racing and the ones that do have a wide variety of domestic and international series to choose from. Frankly, if F1 didn’t have the glorious 1990s and 2000s (and a storied history) I doubt I’d be watching…

      1. I’ve been watching the FIA yearly reviews (since the 1970 season) and today’s F1 is nothing like it used to be. I thought it was boring before but now I don’t even know why I still watch it! Probably just habit – or like a disappointing TV series I keep watching hoping it will get better and justify the time wasted.

  7. It’ll be awfully hard to cheer for Haas when they announce Gutierrez next week. So many other better candidates to choose from and Haas doesn’t need the money so I’m wondering what the deal is. Ferrari, for what it’s worth, has already said there is no discount for putting one of the drivers in the car…

    1. Any new F1 team needs money… lots and lots of money.

  8. I’m not sure America’s F1 future will look so bright when they really understand the true revenue impact of the Mexican GP taking their attendees from across the border.

    1. Healthy competition is the basis of capitalism ;)

      1. And rigging the rules in your favor is the basis of making money :D

  9. Why don’t they hire Hülkenberg?

  10. You guys know that I like this site very much, but these previews are so awful lately to be completely honest – a few years ago I used to read about the most recent formbook, strengths and weaknesses and how one might fare during the weekend ahead, but nowadays it’s not at all like it. Now it’s just a bunch of one- or two-sentence paragraphs reminiscing about a recent news or press release about the team in question. A sad state of affairs.

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