With all the backroom machinations going on at Caterham and Marussia in the last couple of weeks, you would be forgiven for forgetting there is a fierce battle going on for the lead of 2014 Formula 1 championship.
The contest between Mercedes teammates Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg resumes at the US Grand Prix this weekend, held for the third time at Circuit of The Americas in Austin, Texas.
After a run of wins in the last four races, most recently at the Russian GP, Hamilton heads the Drivers’ Championship standings by 17 points from Rosberg.
Rosberg almost blew his chances last time out in Russia, an over-eager attempt to take the lead from Hamilton at Turn 2 on the first lap resulting in a big lock-up. The consequent tyre change dropped the German well down the order, but he fought back through the field to finish second, albeit a long way behind Hamilton.
2008 champion Hamilton has form at CoTA, winning the inaugural race in 2012. Rosberg, by contrast has a best finish of ninth.
With double points on offer at the final round in Abu Dhabi, Hamilton essentially has to finish ahead of Rosberg in the remaining three races if he is to become champion. There are many other mathematical possibilities, but that is what the Brit will be aiming for. Rosberg will have to hope disaster strikes his teammate if he is to stand a chance now.
Behind the leading pair, Daniel Ricciardo is largely secure in third, while Valtteri Bottas holds fourth place after a podium finish in Russia. However, just four points separate the Finn from Fernando Alonso in sixth.
The Manufacturer’s contest is effectively over, after Mercedes sealed the title in Russia. Red Bull is in a lonely second, so the intrigue centers on the battle for third place.
Williams claimed the position in Japan after Ferrari failed to score. A stronger finish last time means Williams holds a 28-point advantage, but it cannot afford to rest on its laurels in the remaining races.
Still, it’s a remarkable turn around for the team, scoring more points this year that it has in the previous six combined.
The US Grand Prix takes place on Sunday 2 November.
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Drivers’ Championship standings after 16 races
- Lewis Hamilton — Mercedes — 291 points
- Nico Rosberg — Mercedes — 274
- Daniel Ricciardo — Red Bull-Renault — 199
- Valtteri Bottas — Williams-Mercedes — 145
- Sebastian Vettel — Red Bull-Renault — 143
- Fernando Alonso — Ferrari — 141
- Jenson Button — McLaren-Mercedes — 94
- Nico Hulkenberg — Force India-Mercedes — 76
- Felipe Massa — Williams-Mercedes — 71
- Kevin Magnussen — McLaren-Mercedes — 49
- Sergio Perez — Force India-Mercedes — 47
- Kimi Raikkonen — Ferrari — 47
- Jean-Eric Vergne — Toro Rosso-Renault — 21
- Romain Grosjean — Lotus-Renault — 8
- Daniil Kvyat — Toro Rosso-Renault — 8
- Jules Bianchi — Marussia-Ferrari — 2
Non-scorers: Adrian Sutil (Sauber-Ferrari); Marcus Ericsson (Caterham-Renault); Pastor Malonado (Lotus-Renault); Esteban Gutierrez (Sauber-Ferrari); Max Chilton (Marussia-Ferrari); Kamui Kobayashi (Caterham-Renault); Andre Lotterer (Caterham-Renault)
Manufacturers’ Championship standings after 16 races
- Mercedes AMG Petronas F1 Team — 565 points (Champions)
- Infiniti Red Bull Racing — 342
- Williams Martini Racing — 216
- Scuderia Ferrari — 188
- McLaren Mercedes — 143
- Sahara Force India F1 Team — 123
- Scuderia Toro Rosso — 29
- Lotus F1 Team — 8
- Marussia F1 Team — 2
Non-scorers: Sauber F1 Team; Caterham F1 Team