Lewis Hamilton took his 4th straight win in Japan and is within touching distance of the world title. If Hamilton wins and Vettel finishes 3rd or lower then Hamilton will take his 5th world title.
HAM the Man:
In the six years we have been racing at Austin Lewis Hamilton has won 5 times, it is a track the seems to particularly suit Hamilton and his Mercedes, it is also the scene of where he secured his 3rd world title, something he could replicate again this weekend. Sebastian Vettel is the only other driver to win in Austin and will need to do so if he wants to keep his championship alive.
The Circuit & Overtaking:
Unlike some of the venues F1 has raced at recently Austin presents plenty of overtaking opportunities, the circuit features 20 corners with a long 1,016m straight presenting the circuits best overtaking opportunity. Turn 1 also provides a good opportunity for overtaking as the corner is very wide drivers can take multiple lines and we have seen plenty of overtakes there in the past few seasons. The circuit requires a good all round car, sector one features high speed corners with quick direction change needed through turns 3-6. A long straight then features demanding a lot from the engine before a sequence of slow corners prior to a long right hander through turns 16-18 reminiscent of Istanbuls famous turn 8.
There is a chance of rain this weekend particularly in qualifying. The last time we had a wet race in Austin we saw one of the most thrilling races in the turbo-hybrid era with the circuit proving especially difficult in the rain. Daniil Kvyat lost a potential podium after crashing on the penultimate corner, in that same year a gust of wind cost Nico Rosberg the race win and any chance of him winning the title that year.
Drivers to watch:
Daniel Riccardo is quick around Austin having scored two podiums there, he also had a good showing in Suzuka in one of his best races of the season so he should be on a high coming into this weekend.
Kevin Magnussen & Romain Grosjean who race for the American owned Haas team will be willed on for a good result this weekend and presents their best chance of good points in Austin since Haas joined F1. Haas will be fully focused to ensure that this weekend is their best of the season.
Stoffel Vandoorne has had his worst season in his racing career but having been confirmed in Formula E with HWA for Season 5 Vandoorne will be buzzing and should be back to his best. Austin should also suit the McLaren more than than the previous few races, expect Vandoorne to be fighting around the top ten.
Drivers in need of a result:
Sergey Siroktin needs to put on a good performance if he aims to keep his F1 career alive, Sirotkin has done well in his rookie season but with few seats remaining and a few drivers linked to his seat he needs to reassert himself as the man that can do the job in Williams. The car is a shambles but all he needs to do is beat his teammate in the remaining races starting here in Austin.
Brendon Hartley looks set to be replaced by Alexander Albon for 2019 but it is not yet a done deal and could fall through if an agreement with Nissan cant be found but if he wants to remain in the sport he needs to put in performances like he did in qualifying in Suzuka last time out.
It is hard to see anyone other than Lewis Hamilton win in Austin barring any kind of issue or surprise elements in the race but Vettel should put up a good fight especially if he repeats his start from last season. Expect a tight midfield battle once again with Haas and Force India fronting it.
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