There are now just six rounds remaining in the 2021 Formula One World Championship, and only six points separating the top two drivers, meaning there's a good chance the title fight will continue right to the end of the season.
The next battle is this weekend's United States Grand Prix, with the race making a return to the F1 calendar after sitting out last year due to the pandemic. It is once again being held at the Circuit of the Americas in Austin, Texas, which during the off year saw approximately 40% of its track resurfaced. Because the asphalt in some sections is so new, the surface will be bumpy.
The layout of the 3.43-mile track remains unchanged. It consists of an eclectic mix of 20 corners, some of them reminiscent of corners from past and present F1 circuits. There are also 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. However, the uphill hairpin of Turn 1 stands out as COTA's signature corner.
Circuit of the Americas, home of the Formula One United States Grand Prix
Unpredictable weather can be an issue here, though looking at this weekend’s forecast for Austin we should see fine and surprisingly warm conditions throughout the weekend. Pirelli's tire nomination for the weekend includes the C2 as the P Zero White hard, C3 as the P Zero Yellow medium, and C4 as the P Zero Red soft.
Ahead of the race, it's been confirmed that Aston Martin's Sebastian Vettel will start at the back of the grid due to his car receiving a new power unit. Acura fans should also be on the look out for the Honda-powered cars of Red Bull Racing and its feeder team AlphaTauri. Both teams' cars will feature Acura branding this weekend.
Going into Saturday's qualifying session and Sunday's race, Red Bull Racing's Max Verstappen leads the 2021 Drivers' Championship with 262.5 points. Mercedes-Benz AMG's Lewis Hamilton is in second with 256.5 points, followed by fellow Mercedes driver Valtteri Bottas in third with 177 points. In the Constructor’s Championship, Mercedes leads with 433.5 points, versus the 397.5 points of Red Bull and 240 points of McLaren. The winner of the previous race in 2019 was Bottas, driving for Mercedes.