After a three—race stint in Asia, the 2017 Formula One World Championship this weekend heads west for the beginning of a run of three events in the Americas, starting with Round 17 at the Circuit of the Americas in Austin, Texas, home of the United States Grand Prix.
Since its calendar debut in 2012, COTA has earned a reputation as one of the calendar’s most challenging and exciting circuits. The opening sector begins with a steep, uphill run to the blind Turn 1, a corner rich in possible lines and overtaking opportunities. A good exit from this key corner is crucial for making the most of the high—speed section that follows. Reminiscent of Silverstone’s Maggots—Becketts—Chapel complex or Suzuka’s Esses, the stretch from Turn Three to Turn Nine at COTA rewards a well—balanced car capable of making the swift changes of direction as efficiently as possible.
Thereafter, the second sector, featuring a long straight ending in the heavy—braking overtaking opportunity of Turn 12, accents power, while the slower corners of the final sector provide a more technical challenge. Finding a set-up that meets the demands of the three very different sectors makes COTA as challenging for those in the garages as for the drivers on track.
This weekend, championship leader Lewis Hamilton has the chance to wrap up a fourth World Driver’s title. Victory in Japan handed the Mercedes man a 59—point lead over chief rival Sebastian Vettel, with a maximum 100 points available from the final four rounds. Thus, should Hamilton outscore the Ferrari driver by 16 points here he will open an unassailable lead in the Drivers’ Championship standings, as he also has eight wins to Vettel’s four. Mercedes, meanwhile, can claim a fourth consecutive Constructors’ Championship title this weekend.
However, despite recent woes, Ferrari have since the summer break often been a match for the champions on race pace, so though Hamilton is something of a dominant force at COTA, with four wins from five races here, nothing can be taken for granted.
CIRCUIT OF THE AMERICAS
Length of lap:
1:39.347 (Sebastian Vettel, Red Bull Racing, 2012)
Start line/ﬁnish line offset:
Total number of race laps:
Total race distance:
Pitlane speed limits:
80km/h in practice, qualifying, and the race