Lewis Hamilton looks set to secure his sixth World Championship, as three drivers battle it out for third place honours and Renault’s fifth place in the Constructors’ Championship comes under threat. Here are the talking points ahead of the 2019 United States Grand Prix!
Crowning the Champion
Lewis Hamilton looks set to win his sixth World Championship at the 2019 United States Grand Prix. He needs to score just four points to seal the deal. The only way that he won’t be crowned champion this weekend is if Valtteri Bottas wins the race with Hamilton finishing ninth or lower.
Hamilton’s unlikely win in Mexico, where Mercedes had only the third fastest car, has made the title all but a formality as the season heads into its final trio of races. Hamilton’s chances this weekend are made all the more favourable by the fact that Circuit Of The Americas is a track at which he excels. Of the seven races held at the track since it joined the calendar in 2012, Hamilton has won five. He also clinched his third title here back in 2015 – and a repeat is surely on the cards on Sunday.
The battle for third
With the 2019 title all but decided in Hamilton’s favour, the next most high profile contest is for third place in the championship, where Charles Leclerc, Sebastian Vettel and Max Verstappen are all in contention.
Leclerc is at the head of the battle with 236 points and his team-mate sits a further six points behind. The Ferrari head-to-head has been a fascinating element of the 2019 season and now the team have found the groove with their car – having taken all of the last six pole positions – there could be some big points on offer for the duo in the remaining races. Should Ferrari falter however, Max Verstappen is just ten points behind Vettel.
Red Bull's COTA curse
Red Bull had the fastest car in Mexico, with Verstappen taking pole by over two tenths of a second before being demoted three places on the grid. The history of Red Bull at COTA suggests that they’re unlikely to be fastest on Saturday again this week. The team last took pole here in 2013 – the same season as they last won the United States Grand Prix. Since then, Red Bull have had three more podiums at the circuit, with Max Verstappen finishing as runner-up last year.
However, they also have a high DNF rate in Texas. In all of the past four seasons a Red Bull driver has started from fourth on the grid – and in all of the last four seasons, that driver has failed to finish the race. Will Red Bull’s COTA curse strike again in 2019?
Will Albon secure sixth?
Alex Albon, who has out-scored Max Verstappen by nineteen points since joining the team, will be hoping the Red Bull COTA curse doesn’t hit him this weekend. Albon currently sits eighth in the tight battle for sixth in the championship.
Albon is up against Toro Rosso’s Pierre Gasly and McLaren’s Carlos Sainz in the three-way scrap for sixth place. Gasly re-took sixth spot in Mexico with a ninth place finish, but Sainz, who failed to score last weekend, sits just one point behind the Toro Rosso driver. Albon, who has the best chance of ending the season in sixth given his superior machinery, is just a further two points behind. Will Albon secure the hotly contested sixth place with a big result this weekend?
Renault vs Toro Rosso vs Racing Point
This time last year, Renault and Haas were fighting hard for ‘best of the rest’ status, with Renault eventually clinching fourth place spot in the Constructors’ Championship. Flash forward twelve months, and this year’s battle for fourth is all but done, with the French manufacturer trailing engine customer McLaren by 29 points.
While McLaren’s fourth place looks secure, Renault’s fifth place does not, with only eight points separating them from Racing Point and Toro Rosso in sixth and seventh. Renault’s disqualification from the Japanese Grand Prix, which saw them lose nine points, could prove costly.
Racing Point’s end of season form is strong, with them having picked up at least six points in all of the last six races. The Pink Panthers seem to be the most immediate threat to Renault’s fifth place, though Toro Rosso have been picking up regular points too. The battle comes at a time when Renault are evaluating their Formula 1 future, which looks set to be one of the major talking points over the winter break.