Lewis Hamilton has seized his first win and taken an advantage in the drivers’ championship. If he can press home that advantage over the next few races, he could be in a position to achieve the unthinkable – and become the first rookie champion.
But Indianapolis has traditionally been Ferrari’s stomping ground and after two painful defeats the red cars will be out to remind McLaren that there’s more than one team fighting for this championship.
Beyond that, what can BMW do? Could Robert Kubica actually return to this cockpit this weekend following his enormous crash in Montreal?
Read our preview and make your podium predictions below.
Formula 1’s American double-header concludes on the Indianapolis road/oval course. It may not be as awe-inspiring as the oval, or even a half-decent road course, but it has created a few good races.
Last year’s race seemed to still be suffering the after-shocks of the 2005 farce. Bridgestone annihilated Michelin which meant a very easy win for Michael Schumacher.
This year Ferrari are once again hoping to bounce back from two disappoint races – they are not to be underestimated, but nor is a Lewis Hamilton who has just unlocked the secrets of Grand Prix victory.
What will happen to the Lewis Hamilton-Fernando Alonso battle now that Hamilton has his first win? Will Hamilton find another level of performance now that he has his first victory?
It gets worse for Alonso – Indianapolis is widely regarded as his weakest circuit. But his Canadian race wasn’t as bad as you might believe: He damaged his car in his first lap error and that doubtlessly provoked him subsequent problems. And his penalty was just plain harsh.
Heikki Kovalainen will also have taken a much-needed confidence boost from Montreal. But the team still don’t look fast. On an ordinary day expect Kovalainen and Giancarlo Fisichella to be battling for the lower points places.
The mystery of Montreal was just what happened to Ferrari? Weren’t they supposed to walk it? It was hard to judge exactly where Felipe Massa and Kimi Raikkonen might have finished on a normal day, but they never looked quick all weekend on a circuit where they have performed well in recent years.
Indianapolis is another such track. Ferrari have won six of the seven races there since the return of the United States Grand Prix 2000. If they can’t win at Indy, then they could be in trouble.
Points went begging for Honda at Montreal just as they did at Monte-Carlo. Had Rubens Barrichello’s pit team been canny enough to use the same strategy as Alexander Wurz, he might have come home third instead of 12th.
With Button retiring at the start with a broken gearbox, and Super Aguri collecting more points, it was another shocking performance for the team. Few expect them to fair better at Indianapolis.
There are two big stories at BMW. The biggest is whether Robert Kubica might actually race this weekend, having sustained only a sprained ankle in his shocking 180mph crash. If he can’t make it, expect Sebastian Vettel to be drafted in (which should please at least one reader of this website).
Second is whether they can repeat their excellent form at the Canadian race. Nick Heidfeld qualified third and took second entirely on merit. If that hasn’t bagged him a contract extension for 2008 than Mario Thiessen, however much he likes Vettel, must be stark raving tonto.
Ralf Schumacher once again made the Spykers look fast and Jarno Trulli achieved fleeting respectability before crashing out under the Safety Car. How does that sort of thing not carry a punishment with it?
Trulli was on pole here two years ago but he never got to make the start because of the mass withdrawal. Expect him to continue to be markedly superior to his team mate, but don’t expect anything to change.
Red Bull’s season is proving difficult to read. First they were neither fast nor reliable, then fast but unreliable. In the last two races they seem to have been quick in qualifying (Mark Webber started both from sixth) but inconsistent in the races. Their starts appear to be a problem too – Webber lost a lot of places in both Monte-Carlo and Monaco.
They’re getting there, and I do expect them to suddenly arrive among the leaders one day with little warning.
While the big Toyota team have blown millions on achieving little, Williams are proving that a smaller, more reactive squad is the best way to go F1 racing. The result? Williams thirteen, Toyota six in the Constructors’ Championship.
Wurz’s third place in Canada was a triumph but you had to feel for his team mate Nico Rosberg whose race was ruined by the safety car just like Alonso. Rosberg has been much quicker in qualifying and will be out to assert himself again this weekend.
Scuderia Toro Rosso-Ferrari
Instead of profiting from the chaos in Canada, as you suspect their forebears Minardi would have done, Toro Rosso were more often the cause of it. On the strength of the season so far neither driver seems a fit for the challenge of developing the RBR3 ‘inspired’ STR2 into a winning machine – perhaps it’s time Red Bull moved one of their more experienced charges to the Italian squad?
Keep an eye out for Scott Speed, though – his home race last year was ruined by the first lap collision and it would do him, F1 and American motor sport good for him to get a lucky break at Indianapolis.
Spyker along with Toro Rosso and Honda are yet to get a score on the board in 2007 and Canada might just have been their best chance. Adrian Sutil continues to impress – especially in qualifying – but needs to get some more crash-free full race distances under his belt. Indianapolis for the Spyker team will surely be just another internal battle occasionally interrupted by the leaders coming past to lap them.
Takuma Sato’s sixth was stunning but Anthony Davidson was in line for an even better result until his race was cruelly ruined by a kamikaze beaver. The team continue to embarrass the works Honda outfit using last year’s car, though there are signs that the team is starting to struggle for qualifying pace.
What do you think will be the top three in the United States Grand Prix? Make your predictions below.
- United States Grand Prix 2006 review
- Canadian Grand Prix 2007 review – Hamilton wins in Canadian carnage