F1: The US Grand Prix a Silver Lining for Ferrari (NYSE:RACE)
The Circuit of The Americas aka COTA, in Austin, TX has hosted the US Grand Prix since Y 2012, and fast becoming big part of F1’s championship results.
The United States has long been a target growth market for F1. Significant progress has been made in the last 5 years, but seeing how Liberty Media plays the US GP will be of interest to those focused on F1’s future.
MercedesAMG’s Lewis Hamilton set the pace in a wet/dry opening practice session for the United States Grand Prix as he beat title rival Sebastian Vettel of Ferrari by 1/2 sec.
The drivers championship leader set a best time of 1:36.335s on the supersoft Pirelli compound tires to finish 0.593 secs clear of Mr. Vettel. Mr. Hamilton’s team-mate Valtteri Bottas took 3rd place 5/100ths a sec back.
The session began in damp conditions after early morning abated shortly before the Green light was shown.
Below are the Key talking points ahead of this weekend’s United States Grand Prix.
Will COTA be King-maker again for MercedesAMG’s Lewis Hamilton?
There is a similar sense of inevitability heading to COTA this weekend as in Y 2015.
Ferrari’s capitulation in the last 6 weeks has seen Sebastian Vettel go from championship leader to outsider, trailing Mr. Hamilton by 59 points with just 100 left to play for this season.
A 16-point swing will see Mr. Hamilton clinch a 4th title at COTA meaning that next weekend’s Mexican Grand Prix is perhaps the more likely site for his title.
Silver Lining for Ferrari despite recent losses
The failures that have seen Ferrari miss shots at both championships in Y 2017 may lead to changes at The Scuderia the end of the season.
For now, the Ferrari team will/must do all it can to put the brakes on its fall and bounce back at COTA, with its race pace form in Malaysia suggesting it may not be as far off MercedesAMG at this weekend.
Mr. Vettel and teammate Kimi Raikkonen said there is no track for Ferrari to fear in the closing races this season, so expect a fighting end to the season to save face.
MercedesAMG will likely to wrap up the constructors’ championship this weekend, for Ferrari to have gone from pre-season favorite with the fastest car to losing the title with 3 races to spare is a serious failure that will take some recovering from, but it could happen.
Red Bull Racing’s flying finish to continue in Austin?
Red Bull Racing’s late-season form is traditionally good, the team has been strong in recent races as it looks to build momentum.
Max Verstappen’s dominant victory in Malaysia proved the team can win races on merit and take the fight to both Mercedes and Ferrari.
Messrs Verstappen and Ricciardo will be pushing hard to keep the team’s good late-season form going at COTA.
The Land of Liberty (Media)
Liberty Media’s takeover of F1 in January was a significant moment for the sport’s future, with a great focus being placed on the United States.
F1 CEO/Chairman Chase Carey has made his ambition to make each race a Superbowl-esque event clear for some time, with plans to improve the spectacle around races still in the works.
The US GP has traditionally done very well with its off-track spectacles, with last year’s Taylor Swift concert playing a huge role in breathing new life into the race after a washout in Y 2015. This year, Justin Timberlake and Stevie Wonder will both be performing at COTA’s Amphitheater.
Another big name confirmed to be attending is Usain Bolt, the world’s fastest man will act as the official starter for the race, while iconic boxing announcer Michael Buffer will be on-hand for the pre-race driver introductions, a new step for F1.
This weekend will also see the F1 paddock turn Pink in aid of Breast Cancer Awareness month and Susan G. Komen
2017 United States Grand Prix – Facts and Figures
Track: Circuit of The Americas
Lap Record: Sebastian Vettel 1:39.347 (2012)
Tire Compounds: Ultra-Soft/Super-Soft/Soft
2016 Winner: Lewis Hamilton (Mercedes)
2016 Pole Position: Lewis Hamilton (Mercedes) 1:34.999
2016 Fastest Lap: Sebastian Vettel (Ferrari) 1:39.877
DRS Zones: T2o to T1, T11 to T12
2017 United States Grand Prix – TV/Stream Times
|NYSE:RACE||114.69||20 October 2017||-1.22||115.04||115.26||114.38||192,597|
|HeffX-LTN Analysis for RACE:||Overall||Short||Intermediate||Long|
|Neutral (0.18)||Bullish (0.25)||Neutral (0.08)||Neutral (0.21)|
Enjoy the racing this weekend.