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Formula One Open Wheel

United States Grand Prix 2016 Preview

Momentum? The season thus far certainly favors Mercedes’ Nico Rosberg to take the Driver’s Championship. But, if any driver could be said to “own” a track, Lewis Hamilton has dominated COTA’s 4 F1 races, winning all but 1. So, Hamilton seems to have history on his side.

Needs A Good Run? Just about everyone, but we have to consider that Honda is banking on better runs because so many millions have been spent on their McLaren team.

Sentimental Favorite?  We are told Lewis Hamilton is the most popular of the F1 drivers who visit Austin each year.

Challenges? Texas hospitality is warm and generous. The food in Austin is delicious. These present a significant problem to the drivers and those of the crews who must watch what they eat to fit their clothing. Look for major eating after Sunday’s race and for some of the circus members to stay behind and eat up.

Quotes:

“First up, we’re back in the States – which is like a second home race for me these days. I love the country, the culture, the people and the track, so I can’t wait to get started. I’ve got some great memories from Austin, with three wins from four races and, of course, the title win last year. That was one of the highlights of my career, no doubt. It’s almost like the American fans have adopted me as their own, so I’ll try to channel all of that positive energy into this weekend.” Lewis Hamilton on his strategy to maximize his points for the remainder of the season.

“Looking ahead to Austin, we’ll be hoping for some drier weather than last year – which won’t be difficult, given the torrential rain which simply didn’t stop until Sunday last time around! The weather conditions in 2015 have also had a knock-on effect in that we actually have very little up-to-date data from which to establish the performance of the car and the tyres at this circuit. Teams will therefore have to work on the basis of records from 2014, which is an unusual challenge heading into a race weekend. We have the medium, soft and supersoft tyre compounds available this weekend, which will likely produce some quicker lap times than those previously seen at this circuit.” Paddy Lowe, Technical Director, Mercedes.

“COTA is one of the few anti-clockwise circuits on the calendar, and has a bit of everything: fast corners, slow corners and heavy braking zones, so you need a car with good balance, which tends to be one of the strengths of our car. There’s lots of fast, sweeping corners in the first sector, the long straight in the second sector, and then the infield section in the final sector which is tight and twisty with long apexes and high g-forces. You really need to prepare the car for everything! For a driver it’s great fun and I hope we enjoy a better result there than in Suzuka.” McLaren driver Jensen Button.

“The track in Austin is sick, I love it. It has a lot of unique features like the wide apex at turn one, you could fit about four cars side by side through there. There are loads of opportunities to overtake and have fun throughout the whole track. It has fast flowing sections and hairpins, pretty much everything I like in a track. Austin city is also awesome, I really like its character. It’s raw and authentic which makes it cool without trying to be. The old school bars and music venues which are super cool just makes it work. Pete’s Piano bar and Rainey Street has a lot of local music which is a really nice vibe and I want to check out Hotel Vegas this year.” Daniel Ricciardo of Red Bull Racing.

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By Lisa Davidson

Lisa Davidson is a graduate of the University of Arizona and spent her corporate career as a Controller. She is a lifelong writer who has been covering open wheel racing since 2000 and is the author of historical articles and co-author of one book She and her husband, photographer Jeff Davidson, have two daughters and make their home in Murrieta, CA.