Venue: Circuit of the Americas, Austin
Lewis Hamilton will start as favourite to regain the lead in his topsy-turvy drivers’ championship battle with Max Verstappen at one of his happiest hunting grounds.
Nobody has won more United States Grand Prixs than Hamilton, whose first of six triumphs came in his McLaren days in 2007, and his Mercedes power unit is expected to give him and Valtteri Bottas the edge over Red Bull rival Verstappen.
The Dutchman capitalised on Hamilton’s grid penalty and disagreement between the Brit and his pit wall in Turkey last time out to finish second to Hamilton’s fifth and move back into a six-point title lead.
It could be a case of limiting the damage for Verstappen in Austin, with better tracks for Red Bull still to come, and Hamilton comes in as 17/20 favourite for this race in the United States Grand Prix betting tips.
The seven-time world champion clashed with his team over their decision to pit late on for a fresh set of intermediate tyres in Istanbul, which dropped him from third to fifth.
Hamilton reacted angrily over his team radio and said after the race: “If I’d stayed out, we don’t know if I would have held position but I’m a risk taker so I wanted to take that risk.
“It was frustrating at the time because I could see second and all of a sudden I’m back in fifth.
“It’s hard to give something up when you don’t have the full picture. You have to rely on your team and accept the choices they make and hope they’re the right ones. I’ve just got to try not to drop more points.”
How the Turkish Grand Prix finished
1 Bottas (Mercedes), 2 Verstappen (Red Bull), 3 Perez (Red Bull), 4 Leclerc (Ferrari), 5 Hamilton (Mercedes), 6 Gasly (Alphatauri), 7 Norris (McLaren), 8 Sainz (Ferrari), 9 Stroll (Aston Martin), 10 Ocon (Alpine), 11 Giovinazzi (Alfa Romeo), 12 Raikkonen (Alfa Romeo), 13 Ricciardo (McLaren), 14 Tsunoda (Alphatauri), 15 Russell (Williams), 16 Alonso (Alpine), 17 Latifi (Williams), 18 Vettel (Aston Martin), 19 Schumacher (Haas), 20 Mazepin (Haas).
Rain has been a major factor in the last two races but is highly unlikely to be an issue in Austin, where searing track temperatures could put tyre management to the test.
With all focus on the ferocious duel between Hamilton and Verstappen, their team-mates have a crucial role to play in determining where the championship ends up.
Bottas’ victory in Istanbul was critical for Mercedes, denying Verstappen maximum points, but Red Bull landed a double podium thanks to a determined drive from Sergio Perez – including keeping Hamilton at bay in a thrilling battle.
It has been an inconsistent first season at Red Bull for the Mexican but team principal Christian Horner was full of praise for his role in Istanbul.
“I mean he raced Lewis just as hard as Max does. You can see at [Turn 14] they’re going wheel to wheel and he actually ended up in the pit lane!” Horner said.
Perez can take heart from his display in Istanbul to take the fight to Bottas and we are backing him to make the podium again.
Ferrari were arguably the standout performers in Turkey, with Charles Leclerc on course for a podium until a late pit stop and Carlos Sainz finishing eighth after starting at the back due to an engine penalty.
The Scuderia’s new hybrid engine helped boost their performance and they will hope that continues in Austin.
“Certainly it’s giving us an advantage,” said team principal Mattia Binotto. “If I look as well at quali with Charles, it was the… fourth [fastest] lap time. If I look behind him, it was very close, and I’m pretty sure that a couple of positions would have been lost without that specification.”
Leclerc had no regrets after his late stop dropped him to fourth.
“For the last 10 laps I was just trying to switch on those inters that never really came to life,” said Leclerc. “It’s a bit of a shame because that made us lose the podium but I don’t regret anything.”
The Ferrari team-mates are separated by just half a point in the title standings. We are backing them to secure a double top-six finish for Ferrari in Austin.
Past USA Grand Prix winners
2020: Race not held
2019: Valtteri Bottas (Mercedes)
2018: Kimi Raikkonen (Ferrari)
2017: Lewis Hamilton (Mercedes)
2016: Lewis Hamilton (Mercedes)
2015: Lewis Hamilton (Mercedes)
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