Round 19 of the 2022 Formula One World Championship, the United States Grand Prix, takes place this weekend at the Circuit of the Americas in Austin, Texas.
The race for the title in the 2022 Drivers' Championship has already been decided, with Red Bull Racing's Max Verstappen crowned champion a fortnight ago at the Japanese Grand Prix.
However, the battle for second is still very much alive, with Red Bull's Sergio Perez in second and Ferrari's Charles Leclerc just one point behind in third. The battle for the Constructors' Championship is also alive, though Red Bull is almost certain to grab the title in Austin.
Despite being one of the newer locations on the F1 calendar—the first race was in 2012—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.
Circuit of the Americas, home of the Formula 1 United States Grand Prix
In particular, the 3.4-mile track has 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 the track a huge challenge for both teams and drivers. However, the uphill hairpin of Turn 1 stands out as COTA's signature corner.
The track surface is one of the bumpiest because of subsidence, and even though it is either ground down or resurfaced during the winter to deal with this, the changing location and severity of the bumps throughout the year means they're still a challenge. Unpredictable weather can also be an issue here, though looking at this weekend’s forecast for Austin, we should be in for fine but cool conditions during both Saturday's qualifying and Sunday's race.
Pirelli has nominated its C2 as the White hard, C3 as the Yellow medium, and C4 as the Red soft. Teams ran a two-stop strategy last year, but with a completely new range of tires, they may employ different strategies this year.
Going into the weekend, Verstappen holds an unbeatable lead in the Drivers' Championship with 366 points. Perez is second with 253 points and Leclerc third with 252 points. In the Constructors' Championship, Red Bull sits on 619 points, versus the 454 of Ferrari and 387 of Mercedes-Benz AMG. Last year's winner in Austin was Verstappen, driving for Red Bull.