US Grand Prix preview: 5 storylines to observe at COTA with Verstappen locked in as F1 Champ

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Formula 1 makes its second go to to America this season with the 2022 United States Grand Prix on the Circuit of the Americas (COTA). Widely thought to be a driver favourite, the circuit hosted 400,000 guests final 12 months and is understood for being fairly the spectacle. Even with the Championship wrapped up in Suzuka two weeks in the past, there’s nonetheless loads of motion on and off the monitor to regulate this weekend.

Max Verstappen might tie the report for many wins in a season (13) at COTA. That would put him degree with Michael Schumacher (2004) and Sebastian Vettel (2013), though they did it with three and 4 fewer races in these seasons, respectively. Verstappen ought to finally take that report with 4 races remaining in 2022.

1. The Constructors Championship

After eight straight championships by Mercedes, Red Bull might clinch the Constructors’ title this weekend in Austin. Like Verstappen’s Driver’s Championship, it’s extra of a query the place Red Bull will win it, quite than if they’ll. They have a 165-point lead, so a win at COTA would safe the prize. Don’t underestimate the significance of this Championship. Not solely are there huge monetary advantages, however Red Bull has lengthy wished to reclaim the title from Mercedes. In current interviews, key members of the Red Bull workforce have mentioned beating Mercedes this 12 months, wanting previous any problem from Ferrari. Red Bull had 4 straight titles earlier than Mercedes, Lewis Hamilton, and Toto Wolff dominated the collection for a lot of the final decade. Will Red Bull be celebrating a Championship within the paddock post-race for the second spherical in a row?

2. Open Seats

Only two spots stay on the 2023 grid. At Haas, Mick Schumacher has but to safe a 3rd season in F1. Despite his expertise and enchancment over 2021, the prices he has racked up from a number of crashes and his incapacity to persistently beat teammate Kevin Magnussen has him at a deficit. With Daniel Ricciardo ruling out a drive subsequent season, long-time vet Nico Hulkenberg has moved into pole place for the second seat at Haas.

Meanwhile, Nicholas Latifi’s confirmed departure was initially considered crammed by Nyck de Vries. But following his announcement at AlphaTauri, American Logan Sargent might make a soar that was not on the radar some 12 months in the past. Will both workforce make an announcement whereas in Austin?

3. Cost Cap Penalties

Probably essentially the most talked about story within the paddock this weekend would be the price cap controversy. Last week the FIA launched that Aston Martin and Williams have made procedural breaches, however it’s the ‘minor’ monetary breach by Red Bull that everybody is watching. The minor monetary class means anyplace as much as 5% over the fee cap, roughly $7 million. The penalty might vary anyplace from fines to level deductions in both the Driver or Constructors Championships.

While the ruling might play a job in both the 2021 or 2022 seasons, the larger query is the way it will impression the way in which groups function going ahead. If Red Bull is just hit with a monetary penalty groups can price range these charges on prime of their annual price range going ahead. Without a penalty to the workforce on monitor or within the growth course of, the brand new price cap could have misplaced a number of its deliberate impression.

4. The Battle from 2nd by sixth

While Max Verstappen could have cruised to his second F1 title, the battle from second all the way down to sixth place has been much more entertaining. Heading into the US Grand Prix simply 73 factors separate Charles Leclerc in second again to Lewis Hamilton with 100+ factors nonetheless in play this season. Can Sergio Perez, who’s behind Leclerc by a single level, make it a 1-2 for Red Bull or will Ferrari be capable to regain momentum on the finish of the 12 months and salvage second place? And might George Russell (207), in his debut season at Mercedes, come out forward of Carlos Sainz (202) and his teammate Lewis Hamilton (180)?

5. Logan Sargent in FP1

Friday will mark the primary time in seven years since an American has taken half in an F1 weekend. Williams Academy driver Logan Sargent will make his FP1 debut as a part of the necessary rookie testing runs this season. Sargent is presently third in Formula 2 with one spherical to go, having picked up back-to-back Feature Race wins at Silverstone and Red Bull Ring. More importantly, he’s now thought of to be the front-runner for the soon-to-be vacant seat at Williams as soon as Nicholas Latifi makes means. Could 2023 mark the return of a full-time American driver in F1?

How To Watch (all instances ET)

  • US GP Preview Show: Friday 10/21 – 2:00 pm – ESPN3/WatchESPN
  • Practice 1 – Friday 10/21 – 2:55 pm – ESPN2/ESPN Deportes/WatchESPN
  • Practice 2 – Friday 10/21 – 5:55 pm – ESPNews/ESPN Deportes/WatchESPN
  • Practice 3 – Saturday 10/22 – 2:55 pm – ESPNews/ESPN Deportes/WatchESPN
  • Qualifying – Saturday 10/22 – 5:55 pm – ESPNews/ESPN Deportes/WatchESPN
  • Grand Prix Sunday (Pre-race Show) – Sunday 10/23 – 1:30 pm – ABC/ESPN Deportes/WatchESPN
  • Grand Prix Race – Sunday 10/23 – 3:00 pm – ABC/ESPN Deportes/WatchESPN

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