Round 18 of the 2018 Formula 1 World Championship sees the focus switch from Eastern to Western hemispheres as teams descend upon the Circuit of the Americas in Austin, Texas for this weekend's United States Grand Prix.
Despite being one of the newer locations on the F1 calendar, COTA has already made a name for itself as a track capable of showing off F1 cars at their best, primarily as it has been designed specifically with F1 in mind.
In particular, the 3.43-mile track has an eclectic mix of 20 corners, some of them reminiscent of corners from past and present F1 circuits. In addition, there are more fast corners than Spa-Francorchamps and more slow corners than the Hungaroring—a combination that makes this track a huge challenge for both teams and drivers.
Unpredictable weather can also be an issue here this time of year. Fortunately the conditions are mostly looking good, with a little rain predicted for Saturday's qualifying but mostly fine conditions predicted for Sunday’s race.
On top of this, there’s the spectacular climb leading to the blind first corner. The start can be interesting because cars lining up on the dirty side of the grid struggle more than at any other circuit to find grip. Pirelli has nominated its soft, supersoft and ultrasoft compounds for the weekend.
Even though there are several races to go, the 2018 title is nearing its conclusion due to the significant gap between the top two drivers. Mercedes-AMG's Lewis Hamilton only needs to outscore Ferrari's Sebastian Vettel by seven points to claim the 2018 Drivers' Championship.
Going into the weekend, Hamilton sits on 331 points versus the 264 of Vettel and 207 of fellow Mercedes driver Valtteri Bottas. In the Constructors' Championship, Mercedes leads with 538 points versus the 460 of Ferrari and 319 of Aston Martin Red Bull Racing. Last year's winner in Austin was Hamilton driving for Mercedes.