United States Grand Prix Preview: Hamilton’s crowning weekend?

With just four races to go, this could be the weekend in which the drivers’ championship could be settled. After a commanding victory at the Russian Grand Prix a fortnight ago, which also saw Mercedes clinch back-to-back constructors’ championship, another win this weekend and the Brit can start celebrating a third world championship.

If Hamilton does not win the race, he could still yet leave Austin with the title. After Nico Rosberg’s retirement from the last race, the nearest challenger to Hamilton is now the Ferrari of Sebastian Vettel. Hamilton will have to score more than nine points over Vettel this weekend and score two points more than team-mate Nico Rosberg.

Lewis Hamilton has a fine record in North America. The Mercedes man took his first victory in F1 in Canada back in 2007 and then followed that up with another victory a week later at the U.S Grand Prix. Hamilton has also won in Austin on two occasions, the first of two wins came at the first ever race in Texas in 2012 which was ultimately his final win for McLaren, his second win came last season in dominant fashion.

For Hamilton, America has become his second home and is a huge star in the States and has spent the last week in Miami having some down time ahead of this weekend’s race, perhaps winning the title in Texas would be somewhat of a dream come true.

The track itself is a modern classic, not only is it a hit with fans, but it is also hugely popular amongst the teams and drivers. The Circuit of the Americas (COTA) takes inspiration from some of the best corners in the world such as Spa, Suzuka, Silverstone and even the famous Turn 8 from Istanbul Park.

The circuit has a bit of everything. Sector 1 is made of a huge climb at Turn 1, followed by a downhill drop into a number of right and left high-speed corners with the drivers barely having a moment to catch their breath before the hairpin that sends the drivers on the longest straight on the calendar. After the long straight comes a series of tricky low-speed corners, it is an area of the circuit where time is easily lost as opposed to gained. In the final sector, the drivers can let the car go into the reverse Istanbul Turn 8 towards the end of the lap.

As you would expect from a circuit with a mixture of characteristics and a long straight, Mercedes should comfortably lock out the front row come Saturday evening, but the race could be more difficult than that. Recent unreliability in Russia has put a huge dent in Rosberg’s chances, however with that said, it was Hamilton that was forced to take an early bath from the Singapore Grand Prix, it seems as if reliability problems for Hamilton is Rosberg’s only hope.

The track surface has been quite an issue over the years in Texas, it isn’t unusual to see cars run into trouble in the early phases of the weekend with their tyres. The start in Texas is also crucial making qualifying all the more important. With the left side of the track being dirtier and more slippery than the right, it isn’t uncommon to see the drivers on the right side of the circuit make places up at the start with ease. If Hamilton was to have a bad qualifying, it will be interesting to see how Mercedes negotiate the start.

Will we see Hamilton emulate his hero Ayrton Senna by winning a third championship this weekend? Or will we have to wait until the Mexican Grand Prix to see more British F1 success? Leave your comments in below.