Nico Rosberg, Mercedes, Circuit of the Americas, 2016

2017 United States Grand Prix stats preview

2017 United States Grand Prix

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Sebastian Vettel heads to the United States badly needing a big result in the championship.

But the Circuit of the Americas has dependably been one of the best venues for his title rival Lewis Hamilton.

The form book

Out of the five races F1 has held so far on the Texan track, Hamilton has won four, including all three since the V6 hybrid turbo era began. He clinched the championship at this track two years ago and can do so again on Sunday.

Hamilton’s affinity for America, where he owns a house and spends much of his downtime, extends beyond his success at COTA. He took the second win of his career at Indianoplis, giving him five wins from six starts in the States. One more will give him more wins in this race than any other driver.

However last year’s race was the first time Hamilton had taken pole position at COTA. Vettel has two poles at this track and is the only driver besides Hamilton to have won here, in 2013. The year before the pair staged a race-long fight for victory which was decided when Vettel was delayed while lapping Narain Karthikeyan.

Vettel has usually gone well at this track, just not as well as Hamilton. He’s set fastest lap four times at COTA, while Hamilton has never done.

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Red Bull have raised their game as the season has gone on and could be a threat to Ferrari again this weekend. Daniel Ricciardo finished on the podium last year and might even have split the Mercedes had it not been for an ill-timed Virtual Safety Car which, in a double blow for the team, was caused by his team mate’s retirement.

Kimi Raikkonen, Ferrari, Circuit of the Americas, 2016
Raikkonen hasn’t scored at COTA since rejoining Ferrari
Vettel’s struggles in recent races have left him just 13 points ahead of Valtteri Bottas in the drivers’ championship. Ferrari are no longer a threat to constructors’ championship leaders Mercedes (who can also become champions this weekend) and are now closer to third-placed Red Bull.

The Milton Keynes team has outscored the Scuderia 91 to 22 over the last three races. But they will need to keep going at that rate over the remaining rounds to catch them, which isn’t likely.

However this hasn’t been a happy hunting ground for Kimi Raikkonen, whose has never scored a point at COTA as a Ferrari driver. He took sixth for Lotus in the first race in 2012, but didn’t drive the following year due to a long-unpaid salary bill. He was out of the points in 2014, crashed on the wet track the following year and was halted by a pit stop error 12 months ago.

Max Verstappen has never stood on the podium at COTA before and this is his last chance to get on the rostrum at a venue where he isn’t old enough to drink champagne. He turned 20 last month but the minimum legal drinking age in Texas is 21.

Hartley’s debut

Brendon Hartley, Timo Bernhard, Earl Bamber, WEC, Porsche, Circuit of the Americas, 2017
Hartley won last month’s WEC round at COTA
Brendon Hartley will be a new face on the grid this weekend. He is the first driver from New Zealand to race in the championship since Mike Thackwell 33 years ago and will make his grand prix debut on the 50th anniversary of New Zealand’s only champion, Denny Hulme, winning the drivers’ title.

That may also be a good omen for Hamilton, who could become the fifth driver to be crowned champion on the 22nd of October. The others were Hulme in 1967, Alain Prost in 1989, Michael Schumacher in 1995 and Fernando Alonso in 2006.

Hartley’s surprise debut comes as Toro Rosso have replaced both their drivers for this weekend’s race. Carlos Sainz Jnr is off to Renault and Gasly is on Japanese Super Formula duty at Suzuka. That means Daniil Kvyat will return alongside Hartley.

The last time a team changed both its drivers between consecutive rounds of the same season was in 1994, when Lotus ran Johnny Herbert and Philippe Adams at Estoril, then showed up at Jerez with Eric Bernard and Alessandro Zanardi.

Jolyon Palmer’s absence from Renault means Hamilton is now the only British driver racing in Formula One. The last time the British contingent dwindled to a single entrant was at the 2005 Monaco Grand Prix, where David Coulthard was the UK’s sole representative as Jenson Button’s BAR team had been excluded from the event.

Lap times

NB. All practice sessions were wet in 2015 and the fastest lap was set during the race.

Overtaking

Source: Mercedes

Race ratings

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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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33 comments on “2017 United States Grand Prix stats preview”

  1. Max Verstappen has never stood on the podium at COTA before and this is his last chance to get on the rostrum at a venue where he isn’t old enough to drink champagne

    Well, in Bahrain, you are never old enough to drink :)

    1. @sumedh Same with the UAE.

      1. @sumedh and @jerejj Both not entirely true. You can consume alcohol in the UAE, Qatar and Bahrain legally in hotels and (at least in the UAE) you can purchase alcohol from licenced stores like MMI to consume at your home if you have a licence (which you can obtain easily enough if you (a) fill in a form (b) submit a letter from your employer which confirms your salary) and (c) are not a Muslim).

        Kuwait and Saudi are completely dry though…but you can drink legally in the embassies (though it is illegal to be drunk in public so you have to be careful leaving embassy functions and parties) and, from experience, you can find alcohol (of widely varying quality) easily enough. The consequences of being found in possession of it are harsh so you are fairly silly to even try get hold of it when you could just get a cheap flight to any of Bahrain, Qatar the UAE and drink away legally to your heart’s content.

        1. @geemac Reminds me of the homemade wine and ‘sid’ moonshine in Riyadh back in the day, when the weekend was Thursday and Friday and we had to find excuses to run home on Sunday so we could watch the races on Al Jazeera 😂

          1. Haha, I always tried to avoid the moonshine at all costs, particularly if I (or someone I trusted) didn’t know who the brewer was!

            In Kuwait you get this clear stuff that I’m convinced is just white spirit, but folks lap it up. Desperate times I suppose…

        2. I blame the ease of travel and cheap fares for this. Does make you wonder thou, you need to fill in a form to down a couple of cans of larger, or what ever hooch takes your fancy, or your employer has to confirm your salary, and that you are not a Muslim. Seems silly to me but, when in those countries you have to respect their laws. Just seems like a chose to me just to get an alcoholic drink.

    2. But in Bahrain (and Abu Dhabi) they don’t get champagne on the podium.

  2. I think this is a bit of a mixed track for Hamilton, more a Rosberg track overall – he looked good for the win last year until he fell foul of ‘gusty track syndrome’ – but there are some good heavy braking points that favour Hamilton’s style and allow overtaking. I also think Red Bull will be a real factor in the race, they could end up separating Vettel and Hamilton, though which way round, who knows.

    1. Disagree, Hamilton always looks like he has a ball here before and after the race and the sweeping Silverstone esque section suits his style well.

      I think he will win this race but I don’t think he’ll wrap up the championship.

    2. A mixed track for Hamilton? The man has literally won 4 out of the 5 races EVER held at the track, but it’s mixed? Hahahahahahaha do a better job of hiding your obvious anti Hamilton bias, the narrative in the comments on this site are beyond corny.

      1. @neko06

        do a better job of hiding your obvious anti Hamilton bias

        I’m assuming you either don’t visit the comments section much or just don’t pay attention. I’ve followed this site long enough to know @david-br ‘s post are well balanced and open minded. We all know about the anti-Hamilton bias in the F1 community (as a Hamilton fan myself), but comments like this are just daft.

        1. Thanks @ninjenius ! Actually @neko06 I count myself as a fairly obvious Hamilton fan. I try to be objective despite that! What I meant was a lot of the track favoured Rosberg’s style slightly, I think, hence the poles he won at Austin. He also looked strong in the race last year. At the same time, it’s a decent track for aggressive overtaking and heavy braking, which favours Hamilton. So that’s why I said I think it’s mixed.

          1. I’m going to miss Rosberg in this race.

  3. The last time a team changed both its drivers between consecutive rounds of the same season was in 1994, when Lotus ran Johnny Herbert and Philippe Adams at Estoril, then showed up at Jerez with Eric Bernard and Alessandro Zanardi.

    While technically true and it really being a weird period for Toro Rosso now regarding their driver line-up, this statistic falls a bit into the “far-fetched” category in my opinion.

    I mean, what does it really mean anyway? There have been numerous times when teams started out with drivers A and B and ended the season with drivers E and F. That they hardly replace two drivers at the same time is true, but it now also concerns Kvyat who’s back (for now at last) in his original seat.

    1. Isn’t there now a limit of 4 driver changes per team nowadays? I vaguely remember reading that some where.

      1. @ijw1, yes, I believe that the limit on driver changes came in after the 2001 season due to the number of changes that Prost made during the season (they had five different drivers that season).

        1. It is a limit on the number of drivers, not the driver changes.
          There is a maximum of 4 race drivers across the season, however there is no limit to the number of times drivers are swapped between these 4.

          On an interesting note, the rules also state that in each of the two Friday practise sessions, teams may use two additional drivers. Whilst unclear, I interpret that to mean two drivers for FP1, two more for FP2, and this doesnt count towards the team’s four race drivers for the year – can anyone clarify?

          If my understanding is correct, in 2018 we could theoretically see 4 different “free practice” drivers per weekend, plus the four race drivers, making a grand total of 88 potential drivers (per team) over the year.

          1. There is a maximum of 4 race drivers across the season, however there is no limit to the number of times drivers are swapped between these 4.

            Which means TR were forced* by the rules to run Kyvat this weekend? As running anyone else would constitute using a 5th driver. That is interesting I hadn’t seen in mentioned before.

            *When I say forced I don’t mean they wouldn’t have run him if they could, just that regardless of what they’d prefer they have to run Kyvat

  4. Gutted Jolyon Palmer is no longer going to be starting on the grid. I had such high hopes for the boy! Now only Hamilton is left flying the flag for GB. Maybe I should embrace the diversification of the drivers championship..

    1. I’d still like to see Rowland make it next year, although it looks vanishingly unlikely now.

  5. In MotoGP only person to rule this track has been Marc Marquez, no one seems to dominate this track like him in F1.

    1. In fairness to Hamilton’s record, the 2013 Mercedes was nowhere near fast enough for him to stand a chance of contesting the win that year but he still outperformed Rosberg by a considerably bigger margin than Vettel outperformed Webber.

  6. Wouldn’t it be great to have a rule where each new driver gets his first two races in a 3rd car produced by the leading team of the day (no WCC points allowed)

    1. Wouldn’t it be great to

      What so Red Bull can just keep surfacing young drivers in order to make Merc or Ferrari fork out to run a 3rd car all season, all the while getting technical info back? In answer to your question no it wouldn’t be great.

  7. Absolutely love that stat about the 2 new drivers for a team – can’t believe it’s not happened since 1994, wow.

    I remember it all got a bit messy with Lotus at the end of the year as they slowly withered away and had to grab pay drivers whenever they could. Phillipe Adams. Oh dear. Herbert had a strange end to the year: Lotus for most of the season, then Ligier (swapped with Barnard) then drafted in at Benetton.

    1. In reply to my own comment (great comment by the way Unicron2002), surely Herbert driving for Lotus, Ligier then Benetton one race after the other was the last time a driver raced for 3 different teams over 3 consecutive races?

      1. Well i tried to post a link for a self-five, for some reason doesn’t work

  8. Prior to 2005, were there ever any seasons where there was only one British full-time driver?

  9. Just really Hope to see MAG in yet another great ball breaking overtake – being called a idiot by some hot shot ego with fainted illusions… Should be possible in land of the BIG MAG…..
    When the race has settled after the first laps with Mercedes or Ferrari in front then this is the great part!
    No need to hope for exciting last laps with overtakes in front – Alonso will block the lapping cars together with Massa sleeping behind the wheel as my grandad used to ZZZzzzz……

  10. @keithcollantine
    With both Toro Rosso drivers being swapped, does this mean Kvyat gets ‘his’ car back (ie: engine and tyres allocation)?
    It would make sense, but F1 rarely makes sense these days!
    Thanks :)

    1. @eurobrun I think Kvyat will get Sainz’s quota of PU element, and tyre set allocation, etc., while Hartley will get Gasly’s equivalents (formerly Kvyat’s).

  11. Last year’s race had the most overtake but it was a failure in terms of ratings.

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