Two weeks after Kimi Raikonnen’s popular victory in Abu Dhabi the Formula One circus moves on to the United States Grand Prix for the penultimate round of the season at the newly built Circuit of the Americas in Austin, Texas (Race: Sunday 7pm GMT).
The race will be the first on American soil since the Indianapolis Grand Prix of 2007 and the teams seem hopeful of finally gaining some traction in the United States after previously failing to make inroads into a market dominated by the NASCAR series.
The introduction of the DRS overtaking system in the period since the last US Grand Prix has added greater unpredictability to the sport. The American audience will also have the privilege of watching the tail end of the drivers’ championship battle between Fernando Alonso and Sebastian Vettel.
Alonso cut Vettel’s lead by three points in Abu Dhabi, but would probably have expected to reduce it more significantly after seeing Vettel sent to the back of the grid for having insufficient fuel to return to the pits following his final qualifying lap. Vettel started from the pit lane to allow setup changes to be made to his car and stormed through the field to finish third, just one place behind Alonso.
Vettel’s lead is therefore ten points with just Austin and the Brazilian Grand Prix in Sao Paulo to come. With Red Bull still looking a few paces ahead of Ferrari, especially in qualifying, Alonso will really need to pull something special out of the bag this weekend if he hopes to beat Vettel to a third world championship.
Lewis Hamilton dominated qualifying and the early part of the race in Abu Dhabi before succumbing to a premature retirement due to fuel pressure issues. That allowed Raikonnen to take over the lead of the race and the Finn never relinquished his advantage, safely leading the car home for his and Lotus’ first victory of the season.
As the Circuit of the Americas is a new track, no one is exactly sure what to expect as far as performance is concerned, but the work teams have done on their simulators in the build up to this weekend’s event suggests that this could be a circuit that favours the Red Bull team.
The first and third sectors in particular will suit those teams whose cars work well in high-downforce conditions – one of Red Bull’s strong points. A number of high speed corners and the sweeping turn 17 will also allow Red Bull to take full advantage of their double DRS system.
Red Bull have been on pole position for three of the last four races. With Vettel in good form and with a third consecutive drivers’ championship in his sights, he is clearly favourite to secure first on the grid in Austin.
Mercedes’ Nico Rosberg has qualified in the top ten for each of the last three Grand Prix and should be able to continue that run in the United States. Presuming the top eight grid slots are taken up by the Red Bull, McLaren, Ferrari and Renault cars, there are two places up for grabs, likely to be contested by Mercedes, Force India, Sauber and Williams.
While each of those teams managed to get at least one of their cars into the final session of qualifying in one of the last three races, Rosberg was the only driver among them to qualify for the top ten shootout in all three, suggesting Mercedes have a consistent pace across various circuits.
Vettel is the favourite for victory in the United States Grand Prix betting, but with a championship lead that does not require him to take unnecessary risks and McLaren, Ferrari and Renault stronger in race trim that in qualifying, he does not represent particularly good value.
Better value can be found in backing Raikonnen to follow his triumph in Abu Dhabi with another top three finish in Austin. The Finn has been a consistent finisher throughout the season, securing top ten positions in 17 of the 18 rounds to date, and has finished on the podium on seven occasions.
He comfortably led from the front following Hamilton’s retirement two weeks ago and providing he qualifies in the top five has the necessary wherewithal and race craft to ensure another podium finish this time around.
Bruno Senna has struggled to match the supreme qualifying performance of his Williams team-mate Pastor Maldonado this season, but has been the more regular points finisher of the pair, finishing in the top ten on nine occasions.
Senna has shown himself capable of picking his way through the first corner mayhem, often gaining places on the opening lap before settling down into his rhythm. He has come from 13th and 14th on the grid to finish 10th and 8th in the last two races and is well placed to replicate those performances to again secure points for his team on Sunday.
F1 United States Grand Prix Betting Tips Verdict
- Back Sebastian Vettel to qualify on pole position @ evens (1/1) with Betfred or BetVictor.
- Bet on Nico Rosberg to reach qualifying session three @ 10/11 with Ladbrokes.
- Back Kimi Raikonnen for a podium finish @ 5/2 with Bet365, Blue Square, Coral, William Hill.
- Bet on Bruno Senna finishing in the points @ 13/8 with Coral.