The Circuit of the Americans plays host to the 18th round of the F1 2016 season. This could prove to be a critical race in the fight to be crowned champion.
With just four races remaining, Nico Rosberg holds a 33 point advantage over Mercedes teammate Lewis Hamilton in the Drivers’ Championship. There’s a maximum of 100 points available, it’s critical that Hamilton responds this weekend by taking his fifth win in America.
COTA is one of Hamilton’s favourite tracks, he’s won three of the four Grand Prix’s held here and would normally be the favourite, however, Rosberg is in the form of his life and one more win would further his cushion to any potential mechanical issues.
The German can afford to finish second to Hamilton in all the remaining four races but with Red Bull closer than ever, it’s unlikely we will see the Silver Arrows 1-2 in all of the remaining races. The Austrian team were extremely strong around here last year in monsoon conditions but this year’s forecast is for a bone dry weekend so don’t expect them to threaten for the win this weekend on pure pace alone.
However, numerous races this season have been decided by the start and if either or both Mercedes are slow off the line, Max Verstappen and Daniel Ricciardo won’t be afraid to pounce. It’s not just Red Bull who will be giving Mercedes a headache this weekend, Ferrari looked much stronger last time out in Sukuza and will be keen to return to the podium for the first time since Monza.
Ferrari would need something special to overhaul Red Bull for second in the Constructors’ Championship as they are currently 50 points behind. Williams also look unlikely to be able to leapfrog Force India for fourth in the championship. Hulkenberg will be keen to impress in his last four races for Force India and convince his new employees Renault, that they made the right choice.
McLaren suffered a miserable weekend at their home race in Japan but will be hoping for an improved weekend in COTA, a track which saw Jenson Button finish sixth last season. Expect them to fight with Williams and with home hero’s Haas who showed encouraging pace in the last race but failed to deliver with a points finish.
Esteban Gutierrez is on borrowed time and must find a way to score points in the next couple of races to avoid been left without a seat next year. Also under great pressure are current Renault drivers Jolyon Palmer and Kevin Magnussen who desperately need a good weekend in order to maintain their place in the sport, even if their chance at a seat with Renault next year is gone.
Toro Rosso is in for a difficult weekend and will probably find themselves behind Renault due to their ailing power unit. Kvyat has unfinished business around COTA while Sainz needs to get back on track after a miserable Japanese weekend.
The future of both Manor drivers is up for discussion as they race at COTA for the very first time. Their intra-team battle is going to be fascinating and as close as ever this weekend. Sauber’s chances of points look minimal this weekend so it looks like they will be having their second pointless season in three years.
All 22 drivers have something to prove this weekend from Hamilton’s championship comeback to numerous drivers battling for the limited amount of free seats on the 2017 grid, this weekend’s American Grand Prix is set to be a classic.
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