USA Grand Prix – Preview

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Only two rounds remaining and we’ve finally reached one of my favourite tracks on this year’s calendar – Circuit of the Americas (COTA). The championships may well have been decided, what with Sebastian Vettel and Red Bull Racing being crowed champions yet again – but the biggest talking point is still on who will take second place?

Lotus have got themselves in a bit of a pickle at the moment (excuse the expression) because whilst Kimi Raikkonen has his surgery, they are left to choose the right man to replace him for the final races. It was thought that their reserve driver Davide Valsecchi would get the call, but the Italian has had next to no seat time and unfortunately was ruled out. Their test drivers Nicolas Prost and Jérôme D’Ambrosio will not be racing in place of Kimi either, which has brought up a lot of speculation. It’s been reported that Heikki Kovalainen has been given the job due to his experience and expertise, though there has been no official announcement.

COTA has two DRS zones, the first is located on the pit straight, and the second is positioned after turn 11 on the run up to turn 12. There are 20 corners all together, with the big uphill slope being home to the first corner that each driver will tackle. The circuit is approximately 3.2 miles, which added with 56 laps equates to driving 191.63 miles.

Sebastian Vettel stuck it on pole last year, and also set the lap record of a 1:39:347, however Lewis Hamilton eventually took the lead and the win from the German. Last year, the teams only needed to make their drivers pit once, and a one stop strategy is the favoured choice for this year too. Higher temperatures are forecast which may have an effect on the Pirelli tyres (hards and mediums have been selected for this race), which is why Friday testing will be crucial – a one stop strategy is 10 seconds quicker than a two stop. Jenson Button finished in fifth last year after starting on the hard tyres from 12th, will he be able to pull off something similar this time?

The weekend is live on SkyF1 as usual, whereas the highlights will be shown on the BBC. The race times are below:

Friday:
Practice 1 – 15:00pm
Practice 2 – 19:00pm

Saturday:
Practice 3 – 15:00pm
Qualifying – 18:00pm

Sunday:
Race – 19:00pm

Do you have any pre-race predictions?

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