United States Grand Prix Betting Preview

By Kelly Lawson
Published on October 19, 2017
formula-one-grand-prix-austin

A month can be a very long time in the sporting world and for Sebastian Vettel and Ferrari. The past month must have felt like an eternity as they stumbled from one disaster to another during the Asian Swing. Having arrived in Singapore within striking distance of Lewis Hamilton in the World Championship standings, Vettel proceeded to claim just 12 points from three races as Hamilton’s lead ballooned from three points to 59 points. Such is Hamilton’s position of ascendancy that he can win the title this week, with three races still to follow.

Hamilton will win his fourth World Championship in Austin if:

  • He wins and Vettel finishes sixth or lower
  • He finishes second, Vettel finishes ninth or lower, and Valtteri Bottas does not win the race

If you are one for good omens, then take note of this: this week’s race takes place on October 22, the same date that four drivers have previously secured the World Championship…

Hamilton must be rubbing his hands in glee as he revels in the action in the USA; the Briton has won five of the six races he has taken part in on American soil. The Mercedes driver, who spends much of his time away from the track in the USA, is one win away from standing alone as the only driver to win the United States Grand Prix six times – it’s hard to bet against him!

It could be double delight for Hamilton and Mercedes too, with the Silver Arrows possessing an even better shot of wrapping up the Constructors’ Championship; Ferrari must outscore Mercedes by more than 17 points to keep the title alive – the Scuderia has done so just once this season.

It’s Vettel and Ferrari who need the win, but the team that’s looked the most likely to dethrone Mercedes of late has been Red Bull. Max Verstappen edged out Hamilton in Malaysia and followed that up with a second-place finish in Japan the following week. The Dutchman was followed closely by team-mate Daniel Ricciardo who bagged a pair of third-place finishes. There has been some big talk coming from the Red Bull camp in recent days, with team advisor Helmut Marko asserting that they have the best chassis on the grid at present. Both Mercedes and Ferrari are likely to dispute that point, but there is no disputing that Red Bull has found extra speed of late.

Elsewhere on the grid, it’s all change at Toro Rosso, with Pierre Gasly and Carlos Sainz who raced in Japan replaced by Daniil Kvyat and F1 debutant Brendon Hartley. Kvyat, who was lost his spot to Gasly ahead of the Malaysian Grand Prix, gets another run as the Frenchman is seeing out his commitments in the Japanese Super Formula series. Hartley makes something of a surprise debut in place of Sainz who has switched to Renault. It’s the first time since 1994 that a team has swapped out both its drivers between consecutive races, and it will be interesting to see how Hartley, in particular, gets on.

The Track

The Circuit of the Americas is the 10th circuit to host an F1 race, and it’s a track that has certainly grown on the racing community. The brainchild of Tavo Hellmund and American two-wheel legend Kevin Schwantz, the circuit was designed by Hermann Tilke and made its debut in 2012.

Tilke is said to have taken inspiration from Silverstone and Istanbul in designing the track, and the result is one of the German’s better efforts. One of the biggest successes of the circuit is the use of the natural contours of the location to create a circuit that has many elevation changes, including a brilliant uphill into Turn 1.

Like many of Tilke’s designs, there are plenty of run-off areas at the Circuit of the Americas. While this can encourage overtaking, it does also mean that errors aren’t punished as heavily as some purists would like.

Everything you need to know about the Circuit of the Americas…

  • Circuit length: 513km (3.427mi)
  • Laps: 56
  • Race distance: 405km (191.939mi)
  • Lap record: 1:39.347 (Sebastian Vettel, Red Bull, 2012)
  • Fastest lap in any session: 1:34.999 (Lewis Hamilton, 2016, qualifying three)
  • 2016 pole position: Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes (1:34.999)
  • 2016 winner: Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes
  • 2016 fastest lap: 1:39.877 (Sebastian Vettel, Ferrari)
  • DRS zone: Between Turns 11 and 12 and the start-finish straight

Can Hamilton Be Stopped?

I’ve already listed Hamilton’s many achievements on American soil, and I while I think he will have to wait until Mexico to wrap up the title, the Mercedes driver is the best bet this weekend if you want to back a race winner. The combination of confidence, a strong car, and a track that suits him means that even at -125, Hamilton looks the smart money. If you want to go all in on Hamilton, you can get odds of +250 for the Brit (or any other driver) to notch up a clean sweep of pole position, the race win, and the fastest lap.

Raikkonen’s American Misery to Continue

Kimi Raikkonen hasn’t really been a factor of late – the Finn was last on the podium in Hungary all the way back in July – and the signs aren’t positive heading to Texas. While Hamilton has made merry at COTA, Raikkonen has experienced quite the opposite. After scoring points with Lotus in 2012 on his first visit to the track, Raikkonen sat out the 2013 edition and missed out on the points in 2014 when racing for the Scuderia. He then crashed in the wet in 2015 and saw a pit stop error end his race last year. Given that a failed $5 spark plug proved to be Vettel’s downfall in Japan, Ferrari isn’t having the best time of it, and another retirement would fit their pattern of woe. Raikkonen is +450 not to be classified.

Ricciardo to Do Business Once More?

I’ve backed Daniel Ricciardo to be a consistent presence on the podium of late and the Australian has not disappointed. With nine podiums in the last eleven races, you can almost bet your house (but don’t) on the Red Bull driver coming home in the top three. Ricciardo is at +150 to finish on the podium, and if you want to add a bit more spice you can get Ricciardo and Hamilton to finish in top three at +200.

Haas to Shine at Home

In some respects, it feels like it’s been a challenging second season for American outfit Haas F1 given the competitive nature of the midfield scrap. However, sitting seventh in the standings with 43 points, having already surpassed last season’s points total of 29 points, the campaign can be considered a success. The Ferrari-powered team has notched up two double points finish this season, the second of which came last time out in Japan. Romain Grosjean and Kevin Magnussen will have their work cut out, but the pair is at +600 to both finish in the points. If you would prefer to back just one driver, Grosjean is +162 to grab a points finish.

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