The Formula One United States Grand Prix returns this year, for only the second time at the Circuit of the Americas, in Austin, Texas, and once again the local race is the penultimate event on the 2013 calendar. Unlike last year, however, the championship has already been decided, with Red Bull Racing’s Sebastian Vettel securing his fourth title two races back in India.

Still, there should be plenty of excitement in store for this weekend, with most of the drivers set to hit the grid. We say “most” of the drivers as Lotus’ Kimi Räikkönen is sitting out the remaining two races to undergo surgery on his back to fix a problem causing him significant pain.

Ferrari’s Fernando Alonso was also thought to  be sitting out the race, due to a back injury he suffered after hitting the curb in the previous race in Abu Dhabi, though he has confirmed himself for this weekend's race via Twitter.

The Circuit of the Americas is another Hermann Tilke-designed loop, and features some of the best elements from classic F1 circuits: there are corners that are strongly inspired by the 'Senna S' from Interlagos, the Becketts-Maggots sequence from Silverstone, Motordrome from Hockenheim and the multi-apex turn eight from Istanbul. Drivers will make 56 laps of the 3.43 mile circuit, where they will be faced with 20 turns (12 left-handers, 8 right) and three straights per lap, along with an elevation change of some 138 feet.

Pirelli is bringing its P Zero Orange hard and P Zero White medium tires to the race, the same combination as last year. Sunday’s weather forecast calls for partially cloudy skies and a surprisingly warm peak temperature of 84 degrees F (29 degrees C).

With Sebastian Vettel having won the last seven races in a row, we could continue to see records fall this season. His points tally in the Drivers’ Championship stands at 347 points--130 more than Fernando Alonso in second. Kimi Räikkönen remains in third with 183 points. In the Constructors’ Championship, Red Bull Racing sits on 513 points, followed by Mercedes AMG in second with 334 points and Ferrari in third with 323 points.

With Räikkönen out, Alonso will be able to easily clinch second place overall in the Drivers’ Championship, however, the race is still very much alive to see which team can come second in the Constructors’ Championship.


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