US Grand Prix preview

Championship leader Lewis Hamilton heads into this weekend’s US Grand Prix at Circuit of The Americas with a real chance of claiming his third crown.

He’s not thinking too much about it, though, as he told the BBC: “It is not something I plan to spend any time contemplating. I have no idea what the permutations are that would make it happen and I won’t look into them before the race.”

“My mentality is that there are four races to go this season and as long as I have won it by the time the last race is finished, I really don’t mind where it happens,” he added. “It would be absolutely the wrong thing to do to say, ‘I have to do it this weekend’ and put myself under any extra stress.”

It’s only been on the calendar since 2012, Hamilton winning two of the three races held so far, but the United States Grand Prix at Circuit of The Americas in Texas has quickly become a drivers’ favourite. They face a new challenge this year as heavy rain is forecast for Friday and Saturday, and possibly into race day on Sunday as well.

Hamilton’s position at the top of the table was strengthened last time out in Russia, where he took a dominant win. Erstwhile title rival and teammate Nico Rosberg retired, while Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel finished second, taking Rosberg’s number two spot in the rankings.

Any hopes Vettel might have had of closing his 66-point deficit have been dealt a serious blow ahead of the race as both he and teammate Kimi Raikkonen have been handed a 10-place grid penalty for engine upgrades. Overtaking is possible at CoTA, but climbing to a strong points-paying position won’t be easy. A wet race could make life easier, so watch out for Vettel breaking into the local rain dance.

There is much intrigue away from the track, as well. That will centre on recent talk of a group of Chinese investors lining up a bid to buy-out F1. Exactly what ringmaster Bernie Ecclestone meant when he said earlier this week that the current set of regulations and contracts needs to be razed the ground and started again needs to be deciphered. And Red Bull’s struggles to secure a competitive engine for 2016 rumble on.

Elsewhere, Fernando Alonso in hoping for an upturn in form as he races his McLaren with an improved Honda engine; F1’s lone American Alexander Rossi is hoping a strong performance in front of his home crowd will boost his chances of securing a race seat in 2016 and Kimi Raikkonen has said his penalty for a taking out Valtteri Bottas in a clumsy overtaking attempt in Russia won’t put him off racing hard this weekend.

The US Grand Prix takes place on 25 October.

Drivers’ Championship standings after 15 races

  1. Lewis Hamilton — Mercedes — 302 points
  2. Sebastian Vettel — Ferrari — 236
  3. Nico Rosberg — Mercedes — 229
  4. Kimi Raikkonen — Ferrari — 123
  5. Valtteri Bottas — Williams-Mercedes — 111
  6. Felipe Massa — Williams-Mercedes — 109
  7. Daniil Kvyat — Red Bull-Renault — 76
  8. Daniel Ricciardo — Red Bull-Renault — 73
  9. Sergio Perez — Force India-Mercedes — 54
  10. Romain Grosjean — Lotus-Mercedes — 44
  11. Nico Hulkenberg — Force India-Mercedes — 38
  12. Max Verstappen — Toro Rosso-Renault — 33
  13. Felipe Nasr — Sauber-Ferrari — 25
  14. Pastor Maldonado — Lotus-Mercedes — 22
  15. Carlos Sainz Jr. — Toro Rosso-Renault — 12
  16. Fernando Alonso — McLaren-Honda — 11
  17. Marcus Ericsson — Sauber-Ferrari — 9
  18. Jenson Button — McLaren-Honda — 8
  19. Roberto Merhi — Marussia-Ferrari — 0
  20. Will Stevens — Marussia-Ferrari — 0
  21. Alexander Rossi — Marussia-Ferrari — 0

Manufacturers’ Championship standings after 15 races

  1. Mercedes AMG Petronas F1 Team — 531 points
  2. Scuderia Ferrari — 359
  3. Martini Williams Racing — 220
  4. Infiniti Red Bull Racing — 149
  5. Sahara Force India F1 Team — 92
  6. Lotus F1 Team — 66
  7. Scuderia Toro Rosso — 45
  8. Sauber F1 Team — 34
  9. McLaren Honda — 19
  10. Manor Marussia F1 Team — 0

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By Only Motors

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