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The championship may be decided but there’s still plenty to play for as Formula 1 rolls into Texas. Here’s what to watch out for at the 2022 United States Grand Prix!

Formula 1 is back in Texas for the tenth running of the United States Grand Prix at Circuit of The Americas. The Austin venue becomes only the second, after Watkins Glen, to have hosted the event on ten occasions.

After a chequered history, F1 has found a more stable home in the United States and this will be the second race stateside this season, after May’s Miami Grand Prix. It’s the first time since 1984 that two races have taken place in the States in a single season. There’ll be an additional race in America next year, as the Las Vegas Grand Prix makes its highly anticipated debut. There could also be an American driver on the grid, with Logan Sargeant widely tipped to take Nicholas Latifi’s vacated seat at Williams.

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Verstappen going for the win record

Max Verstappen has wrapped up the championship, winning the title for the second time as a result of the rain-hit Japanese Grand Prix. The win that sealed him championship success was his 12th of the season. Another win this year would see him equal the record for most wins in a single year, currently shared between Michael Schumacher, in 2004, and Sebastian Vettel, in 2013.

Verstappen won the United States Grand Prix last year, continuing a run of three successive podium results at the track. He also finished in the top three here in 2017, before a post-race time penalty dropped him to fourth. Aside from his mechanical-induced DNF in 2016, Verstappen is yet to finish outside of the top four at the track. Given his present form, and Red Bull’s present streak of seven consecutive wins, it’s likely Verstappen’s podium streak will continue and he has a real shot at equalling the record for most wins in a year.

Max Verstappen to win the US GP

Another pole position incoming for Leclerc?

The Japanese Grand Prix confirmed what we’ve all seen coming for some time: Charles Leclerc will have to wait at least another year before getting his hands on the championship trophy.

Nevertheless, Leclerc’s Saturday performances have been stellar in 2022, having taken pole at half of the races so far this year. Another pole this weekend would see him become only the fourth driver to take ten pole positions in a non-title-winning season. Surprisingly, Ferrari have never previously taken pole position at this circuit.

Charles Leclerc fastest qualifier

Pole isn’t everything at COTA

It’s highly likely that Sunday’s United States Grand Prix will be won by a driver starting from the front row of the grid. Every previous race here has been won by one of the top two starters: the polesitter has won five times, with the driver starting second picking up four victories.

The nature of COTA’s uphill left-hand opening corner and the fact that pole is on the right-hand side of the grid means that the driver starting second often leads after Turn 1. The tight opening turn will be a hotspot for action at lights out on Sunday!

Red Bull, Ferrari and Mercedes likely to dominate the podium spots

One thing that is unlikely is that we see a team other than Red Bull, Ferrari or Mercedes on the podium. A driver from outside of the top three teams has finished in the top three only once so far this season, with Lando Norris finishing third at the Emilia Romagna Grand Prix.

Podiums outside of the top three teams at COTA are rare too. There are only two exceptions: Lewis Hamilton won the inaugural race here with McLaren in 2012, while Romain Grosjean finished as runner-up with Lotus in 2013.

A better weekend for Ricciardo?

Daniel Ricciardo has all but confirmed that he will not race in Formula 1 next season. 2022 has been a difficult season for the Australian, who confirmed over the summer that he will not continue with McLaren next year. Fifth place at the Singapore Grand Prix was a rare highlight of the year – his best result of the season and his only points-scoring appearance from the last six races.

But Ricciardo could be on for another good result this weekend. Ricciardo’s affinity with Texas is well documented and his results on track at COTA reflect his love of the place. Aside from two retirements brought about by mechanical failures, Ricciardo has finished in the top six at the track on every appearance since 2014, including with two podium finishes.

The Honey Badger has out-qualified his team-mate only twice so far this year – in Spain and Canada – but his history here suggests he could get ahead of Lando Norris on the grid. Ricciardo’s first appearance here, with Toro Rosso in 2012, is the only time that he has been out-qualified by a
team-mate at the circuit. Could Ricciardo finally have the upper hand on his team-mate once more this weekend?

Daniel Ricciardo to win the US GP

Can Alonso end his COTA retirement streak?

Spare a thought for Fernando Alonso, who has not finished a race at COTA since 2016. All of the Spaniard’s last three races here have resulted in retirements: Honda engine issues put him on the sidelines when driving for McLaren in 2017, he was out in a first lap collision in 2018 and a rear
wing failure put an early end to his race here last year.

Alonso ended a streak of two successive retirements last time out in Japan with a seventh place finish. Will he be able to reach the chequered flag this weekend?

Fernando Alonso
Odds are correct at the time of posting

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