US Grand Prix Preview: Can Hamilton stop Rosberg claiming the championship?
Heading to the 5.515km / 3.427 miles Circuit of the Americas (COTA), there are a number of hot topics circling around the paddock making this race enticing and potentially pivotal and controversial.
Can Hamilton Bounce Back?
Hamilton had a disastrous race in Japan. Following a poor start from second on the grid, the Englishman dropped down to eighth before mounting a rear-guard and working his way through the field to end in third.
The result leaves him 33 points behind team-mate Nico Rosberg in the fight for the championship.
That seems a lot – given a race win is 25 points – but with a maximum of 100 points remaining in the season the task isn’t insurmountable for Hamilton and few would doubt his ability to challenge to the end.
He has already overcome a huge deficit to Rosberg over a similar time earlier in the season by reducing the gap by 32 points in four races between Monaco and Austria.
“We’ve got four races left to make the most of it and that’s exactly what I plan to do,” said Hamilton.
“It’s just about hitting every race weekend as hard as I can, going all out for every win and seeing what happens from there. I’ll be holding nothing back out there.”
Hamilton has a real history of winning tight contests having narrowly taken the titles in 2008 and 2014.
But things seem different now. The Mercedes car has been dogged by mechanical problems, he has been regularly getting poor starts and off-track distractions are mounting.
Will Hamilton Talk to the media?
One of those distractions for Hamilton bubbled to the surface at the last race in Japan following his bizarre behaviour in a pre-race news conference, and later labelling the media as ‘disrespectful’ before walking out of a post-qualifying new conference on Saturday.
Some drivers like to be calm and relaxed during a race weekend while others, like Hamilton, thrive in adversity.
This self-inflicted problem with the media may create the siege mentality that Hamilton needs to perform. Despite Mercedes non-executive chairman, Niki Lauda, saying that “we can sort this all out”, it will be intriguing to see how Hamilton approaches the media and the weekend.
How Will The Teams Tackle COTA?
Another interesting topic is how the teams will approach the challenging COTA.
The 2015 race brought wild weather and torrential rain for much of the weekend, meaning that teams “actually have very little up-to-date data from which to establish the performance of the car and the tires at this circuit,” said Paddy Lowe from Mercedes.
“Teams will therefore have to work on the basis of records from 2014, which is an unusual challenge heading into a race weekend.”
That aside, the track itself represents a true test for drivers and engineers with more fast corners than Spa-Francorchamps and more slow corners than the Hungaroring.
The mix of long straights, sweeping turns and tight corners bring into play Red Bull and Ferrari and sets up another fight between Williams and Force India for crucial constructor’s points.
And with plenty up for grabs, the United States Grand Prix is set to be one to watch.
The race will start at 14:00 local time and will run over 56 laps.