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Formula One

2017 United States Grand Prix Preview

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Momentum? The season thus far certainly favors Mercedes. It’s just a matter of time until the team or Hamilton claims one of the two championships.

Needs A Good Run? Probably the new guys do. Carlos Sainz moves from Toro Rosso to his new team, Renault, replacing Jolyon Palmer. Brendon Hartley fills in for Pierre Gasly, who replaced Daniil Kvyat at Toro Rosso. They must at least match the statistics of those before them.

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

Challenges? This year’s robust hurricane season could make for some unpredictable weather for the race this year. While Austin has not has been hit as hard as places like Houston, it’s nonetheless a hurdle.

Quotes:

“I’m very excited to joining the team and I hope to hit the ground running. We have some hard work ahead of us going into Austin with lots of things to learn and many people to meet. I’m going to give everything to be on the pace as soon as possible even though I know it can take a bit of time to adapt, but I’m confident we can do it. It’s key to have this immediate taste with Renault and get to know the people and the car. It’s a big challenge, but it motivates me. We have this last push for the season and I have to find where the limit of the car is, get used to the steering wheel, things like that. That’s the procedure and I will embrace the challenge. It’s good to see the people at Enstone putting the work in to get back to the top. They can be sure all the effort being put in is being matched on my side of things and I will be pushing flat out to help the team. Austin is one of my favourite tracks and I had one of my best races in Formula 1 there last year, finishing sixth. I can go there with confidence as I know how to go fast in Austin. I just need that adaptation to the car and the engineers. The first sector is special, it’s one of these modern tracks which is well designed, very fast with quick changes of direction and high G-forces. I love these sort of tracks and it’s a good opportunity for me to test the limit of the R.S.17. [Nico and I] are very close together in the championship, but we haven’t had too many on-track battles. I’m really looking forward to working with Nico. I think he is a great driver and one of the most talented on the grid. He has lots of experience in Formula 1 so I will learn from him as soon as I can. Hopefully we can both help the team move further up in the championship before the end of the season.” Carlos Sainz, new Renault driver

“After a couple of frustrating races where we haven’t been able to show the improving pace we know we have in our package, I’m excited to head back to the United States. I had a great time over summer there this year with everything going on around the Indy 500, and I know the fans are incredibly passionate and enthusiastic, so I’m expecting a really good atmosphere around Austin. The COTA track is a really fun track to race on – every sector is different and achieving the perfect compromise with set-up to suit the constantly-changing characteristics of the lap is what makes the challenge there so unique. COTA is also wider than a lot of the circuits we’ve been to recently so there are usually some good chances to overtake, which hopefully we can make the most of on Sunday. I really enjoy spending time in the States and I have lots of happy memories there. I hope in Austin we can build on the momentum we know we’ve been gathering behind the scenes, despite not being able to show the results on the final timesheets, and I think there’s the potential to score points if we can pull everything together. There are a lot of factors to take into account and anything can happen at this race – we’ve seen quite a lot of drama both on-track and off it over the last few years – but I’m optimistic we can have a positive weekend if we can maximise every opportunity.” Fernando Alonzo, McLaren driver

I am really looking forward to going to Austin and also spending a bit of time in America. From what I have seen, racing in the States, and particularly in Texas, is a lot of fun and then you have the barbeques and cowboy boots that they are famous for. The track itself has a great flow to it. There is the first sector with the esses and the elevation going up into Turn One is quite impressive. I think driving a lap there should be a lot of fun.” Lance Stoll, Williams driver

Still four races to go and 100 points to score: we can take nothing for granted as we fly to Austin this week. We approach every race with a healthy dose of scepticism rather than wishful thinking, and our focus must be on making sure we score every point within our reach this weekend in Austin. Since we began the final flyaway leg of the season, we have seen a strong points swing in our favour in both championships. Good fortune has played its part, of course – and we have put ourselves in the right position to make the most of the opportunities that have come our way. But nobody within the team is allowing those good results to disguise the challenges we have faced. We returned from those races with a lot more understanding of our car and of the reasons for the performance swings we have experienced this season. Some of that understanding is already being applied to the final races, some of it will flow into next year’s project. But the bitter taste of our defeat in Malaysia once again confirmed that the tough days are the ones when you learn most – and when you lay the foundations for future success. Likewise, we have maintained clear sight of the reasons for our success this year. The team is operating at an incredibly high level in every area and continuing to develop; we have applied an obsessive attention to detail to how we go racing over the past three seasons; and we have continued to develop our car at a competitive rate through the season. Our mindset has always been one of constant improvement, regardless of the results we were enjoying, and this is now paying off. We must also add our drivers to our list of strengths. Lewis has driven brilliantly this year – and since the summer break in particular, he has been on another level. It has been impressive to watch him extracting everything from the car and working with the team to solve problems and improve even further. Valtteri has had a tougher time in recent races – but he demonstrated his work ethic and character to deliver a strong weekend in Suzuka, and he will be aiming to build on this performance in the final four rounds. As a venue, Austin offers our sport a fantastic home in the United States, combining a state-of-the-art race track with an exciting destination city. The organisers have worked hard to build the event character of the weekend and there are some exciting moments planned for this weekend, too. We will be aiming to play our part by delivering an exciting and successful performance on the track.” Toto Wolff, Head of Motorsport, Mercedes-Benz

The thoughts and opinions expressed here are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of PopularOpenWheel.com, its owners, management, or other contributors. Any links contained in this article should not be considered an endorsement.

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.

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