Venue: Circuit of the Americas
Fresh from sealing his third world title in a row, Max Verstappen arrives in Austin bidding to complete a hat-trick of United States Grand Prix victories.
The dominant Dutchman, who secured the title in Saturday’s sprint race in Qatar, triumphed at the Circuit of the Americas (COTA) in 2021 and 2022 and is the firm favourite to be on top of the podium again at 1/4.
But, while the championship may be settled, there is still plenty to fight for in the five remaining races.
The battle for second is hotting up as Sergio Perez’s form in the second Red Bull continues to nosedive.
Perez was knocked out in the second qualifying session in Qatar before crashing out of the sprint and finishing 10th in the race after receiving 15 seconds of penalties.
“Checo’s had a bit of a shocker of a race,” Red Bull team principal Christian Horner said after Qatar.
“He’s had a horrible weekend – the incident yesterday – and then unfortunately the three penalties that he got in the race.
“I think you can see he’s got into a little bit of a spiral and he just needs to put the brakes on that, reset, use this period – the two weeks now – to come back in Austin – another Sprint weekend – and really attack it, and do the best that he can and extract the most out of himself like he was at the beginning of the year.”
Lewis Hamilton failed to capitalise on Perez’s race woes after crashing out in a first-corner collision with team-mate George Russell but, having finished fifth in the sprint, is just 30 points behind the second-placed Mexican.
Mercedes are locked in their own battle to finish second in the constructors’ championship with Ferrari.
The Scuderia struggled in Qatar, with Carlos Sainz unable to start the race due to a fuel problem and Charles Leclerc labouring to finish fifth.
While Mercedes and Ferrari are scrapping for second in the team standings, the closest challenger to Red Bull in recent races has been the resurgent McLaren.
Australian rookie Oscar Piastri won the sprint in Qatar before finishing second as the team secured a double podium for the second successive race.
McLaren also set a new record for the fastest F1 pit stop in Qatar, taking an astonishing 1.80 seconds to service Norris’ car on lap 27.
Piastri, who is 12/1 to win the race and 9/10 for another top-three finish, said: “We were able to show the pace of the car, so, [it’s] encouraging. To finish within five seconds of Max is pretty unbelievable from the start of the season so very happy.”
While Japan and Qatar offered high-speed corner tracks that played perfectly to the strengths of the McLaren, Austin might be more of a challenge.
Lando Norris, who has not finished higher than seventh at COTA in three previous races, will want to re-establish himself as the number one at McLaren. He is 10/1 to win the race and 8/11 to be on the podium.
Past United States Grand Prix winners
2018: Raikkonen (Ferrari), Verstappen (Red Bull), Hamilton (Mercedes)
2019: Bottas (Mercedes), Hamilton (Mercedes), Verstappen (Red Bull)
2020: Not held
2021: Verstappen (Red Bull), Hamilton (Mercedes), Perez (Red Bull)
2022: Verstappen (Red Bull), Hamilton (Mercedes), Leclerc (Ferrari)
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