Will Vettel take a record eighth win in a row?

2013 United States Grand Prix preview

Start, Circuit of the Americas, 2012The antiseptic Yas Marina Circuit served up another forgettable Abu Dhabi Grand Prix but fans can look forward to two of the most interesting venues on the calendar to round out the season.

After dominating every race since the summer break in August, the seemingly unstoppable force of Red Bull and Sebastian Vettel is now on the verge of achieving an unprecedented eighth successive grand prix victory.

But while the four-time world champion has his eye on making history, many of his rivals are still locked in close battles to determine the final standings in the constructors’ championship, with Mercedes and Ferrari separated by just 11 points with up to 86 available in the final two rounds.

This weekend also marks F1?s return to the impressive Circuit of the Americas ?ǣ perhaps the most important addition to the calendar in recent seasons. After last year?s inaugural race proved a great success, this weekend will prove to be a major test as to whether Formula One really has finally found a permanent home in the United States.

Featuring a mix of high-speed sweepers, long straights, short, sharp turns and plenty of overtaking opportunities, Austin?s purpose-built F1 facility is a hit with drivers, teams and, most importantly fans. Last year?s event was one of the most popular races of the season.

Circuit of the Americas circuit information

Lap length 5.516km (3.427 miles)
Distance 56 laps (308.9km/191.9 miles)
Lap record* 1’39.347 (Sebastian Vettel, 2012)
Fastest lap 1’35.657 (Sebastian Vettel, 2012)
Tyres Hard and Medium

*Fastest lap set during a Grand Prix

Circuit of the Americas track data in full

Inspired by sections of some of F1?s classic circuits, the first sector of the circuit in particular ?ǣ an homage to Silverstone?s Maggots-Becketts-Chapel sequence ?ǣ is unquestionably the most challenging for drivers, machinery and tyres.

“The first sector of this circuit ranks as one of the best parts of a racetrack anywhere in the world,” says McLaren?s Jenson Button. “The first corner is really tricky, because it’s steep and blind, after that, the circuit just winds through an incredibly fast switchback until the heavy braking for the back straight.”

As in 2012, Pirelli have nominated the medium and the hard compounds for the sport?s return to the States, which will hopefully allow drivers to push throughout the race and emulate the level of overtaking and action we saw here last year. One-stop strategies were the order of the day last year but Pirelli suspect the softer compounds this year will lead most drivers to make two stops.

United States Grand Prix team-by-team preview

Red Bull

Yet again, Sebastian Vettel is the man to beat heading to one of only two venues remaining on the current calendar where he hasn’t yet claimed victory (the other is Hungary). Last year he was quickest in all the practice sessions and throughout qualifying – but a moment’s delay behind Narain Karthikeyan in the race cost him victory.

With just two races of his 12-season Formula One career remaining, Mark Webber will be looking to bow out of the sport with another win or two. Webber would not desire a gift win from his team mate, nor is he likely to get one, so it’s going to take a monumental effort for him to put a stop to Vettel’s incredible run of success.

Ferrari

Felipe Massa, Ferrari, Yas Marina, 2013With Mercedes currently holding second in the constructors’ championship by just 11 points, Ferrari will be looking to maximise their position this weekend to try and take the fight to the silver team into Interlagos.

That will be a tall order for the Scuderia, given that Fernando Alonso failed to make it through to Q3 last time out in Abu Dhabi. But with overtaking around Austin certainly possible, another poor Saturday showing would not necessarily spell disaster for them.

Team mate Felipe Massa can enjoy his final two races for the Prancing Horse in the knowledge that he will be returning to the F1 grid in 2014 with Williams. Having out-qualified Alonso around Circuit of the Americas last season before the team infamously chose to deliberately incur a grid penalty on his car, Massa will be looking to replicate the form he showed here a year ago this weekend.

McLaren

For an event that Sergio Perez describes as his “home race”, this should have been a weekend to look forward to for the Mexican. Instead, Perez heads to Austin with all signs pointing to his time with McLaren coming to an end ?ǣ although neither the team, nor the man himself seem willing to formally confirm this as the case just yet.

“For me, this will be the most important weekend of my year, and I’ll be especially keen for a strong result to send my fans back home with a smile on their faces,” said Perez.

Lotus

Romain Grosjean, Lotus, Yas Marina, 2013Lotus’s hopes of challenging Ferrari for third place in the constructors? championship appeared to have been snuffed out completely with the news that Kimi Raikkonen will not race the two remaining races of the season.

With no replacement having yet been announced, it seems likely their third driver and 2012 GP2 champion Davide Valsecchi will be called up to make his grand prix debut in the United States.

He’s had relatively little track time in the E21 besides the Silverstone Young Drivers? Test in July and a brief testing appearance in March. Limited testing makes life very difficult for substitute drivers, as was clear when Jerome D’Ambrosio made a one-off appearance for the same team in Italy last year.

Raikkonen?s loss is by no means a total disaster for Lotus as Romain Grosjean has shown impressive form during this final flyaway leg of the season. Having just missed out on a fourth successive podium in Abu Dhabi, Grosjean will have his sights trained on the podium again in Austin.

Mercedes

The Circuit of the Americas holds happy memories for Lewis Hamilton, who took his final victory for McLaren here last year in satisfying style, snatching it from Vettel’s clutches wirth an opportunistic pass.

While it may be difficult for Hamilton to replicate that feat this weekend, Nico Rosberg’s strong Abu Dhabi run should give Mercedes hope that they may be able to put some pressure on the Red Bulls, or at least finish as best of the rest.

Sauber

Esteban Gutierrez, Sauber, Buddh International Circuit, 2013Having gained on Force India over the start of the flyaway rounds of the season, Sauber?s challenge for sixth place was hampered in Abu Dhabi when Nico Hulkenberg received a drive-through penalty for an unsafe pit release.

Hulkenberg needs to bounce back from that disappointment and take points once again at a circuit he enjoys, while Esteban Gutierrez will be hoping that the home support from visiting Mexican fans will be enough to spur him onto his second points finish of the season.

“I’m from Monterrey, which is quite close to Austin, being about one and a half to two hours away, so my family and also a lot of my friends will come to the event,” said Gutierrez. “This will give me additional motivation for the weekend and makes the atmosphere special.”

Force India

Following a disappointing period of races, Force India consolidated their improved home form in India with a strong points finish for Paul di Resta at Yas Marina after another aggressive one-stop strategy. But with the two hardest compounds in use for Austin, it?s unlikely that the team will be able to go so far against the grain once again this weekend.

The Circuit of the Americas will also post a brand new challenge for Adrian Sutil, who has never driven a lap around the 5.5km circuit. “From what I’ve seen it appears to be one of the better new generation tracks so I’m looking forward to getting there and trying it for myself,” he said.

Williams

Pastor Maldonado, Williams, Yas Marina, 2013Despite impressing enough to earn himself a contract extension for 2014, Valtteri Bottas only has two opportunities remaining to avoid becoming the first Williams driver ever to go an entire season without recording a top ten finish.

Pastor Maldonado’s run to 11th in Abu Dhabi, less than three seconds away from the top ten, will have given the team encouragement that a few more points could yet be salvaged from this desperate season.

Toro Rosso

After being announced as a race driver for the team next season, Daniil Kvyat will get his first run at a grand prix event for Toro Rosso this weekend in the first free practice session.

But with just one point to show from the last five races Daniel Ricciardo and Jean-Eric Vergne will have to wring every last drop of performance from the STR8 to score this weekend. They struggled to a lowly 16th and 17th in Abu Dhabi.

Caterham

Caterham can expect to be a focus for local interest on Friday as reserve driver Alexander Rossi will have another practice outing, becoming the first American to drive at a US Grand Prix since Scott Speed for Toro Rosso six years ago.

“This is an important time in my career and the sport for America and another major step forward for me, to drive FP1 in my home country, in front of my own friends, family, supporters and fans,” said Rossi. “It means a lot to me that the team is giving me this opportunity, while trusting me with the responsibility and I want thank everyone who’s helped make this possible.”

Marussia

With only two races remaining, it seems it will take a very bizarre set of circumstances to see Marussia drop tenth place in the constructor?s championship to rivals Caterham. But with the team having lost out to their pit lane neighbours in the closing stages of the final race in 2012, Marussia will not be taking anything for granted in Austin.

“We’ve had a few days since Abu Dhabi to take a proper in-depth look at some of the issues we experienced there last weekend and we have some solutions in place to ensure we can attack the final two races with rather more confidence,” said team principal John Booth.

2013 driver form

Driver G avg R avg R best R worst Classified Form guide
Sebastian Vettel 2.18 1.69 1 4 16/17 Form guide
Mark Webber 5.71 4.79 2 15 14/17 Form guide
Fernando Alonso 6.18 4.06 1 11 16/17 Form guide
Felipe Massa 7.59 6.87 3 15 15/17 Form guide
Jenson Button 10.00 9.35 5 17 17/17 Form guide
Sergio Perez 10.76 10.59 5 20 17/17 Form guide
Kimi Raikkonen 8.35 4.67 1 11 15/17 Form guide
Romain Grosjean 8.53 7.00 3 19 14/17 Form guide
Nico Rosberg 3.94 5.87 1 19 15/17 Form guide
Lewis Hamilton 3.29 5.00 1 12 16/17 Form guide
Nico Hulkenberg 9.94 10.47 4 19 15/16 Form guide
Esteban Gutierrez 16.06 13.33 7 20 15/17 Form guide
Paul di Resta 13.12 9.69 4 20 13/17 Form guide
Adrian Sutil 12.35 11.14 5 20 14/17 Form guide
Pastor Maldonado 16.00 13.21 10 17 14/17 Form guide
Valtteri Bottas 15.35 14.06 11 17 16/17 Form guide
Jean-Eric Vergne 13.65 12.17 6 18 12/17 Form guide
Daniel Ricciardo 10.76 12.43 7 19 14/17 Form guide
Charles Pic 19.82 16.57 14 19 14/17 Form guide
Giedo van der Garde 19.35 16.92 14 21 13/17 Form guide
Jules Bianchi 19.59 17.00 13 20 14/17 Form guide
Max Chilton 20.47 17.94 14 21 17/17 Form guide

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Who do you think will be the team to beat in the United States Grand Prix? And will Vettel take an eighth consecutive win? Have your say below.

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2013 United States Grand Prix

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Images ?? COTA/LAT, Ferrari/Ercole Colombo, Sauber, Williams/LAT

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75 comments on Will Vettel take a record eighth win in a row?

  1. Joshua Mesh (@joshua-mesh) said on 13th November 2013, 10:57

    I dont see any reason why he wouldn’t win. Fastest car by a mile with a driver who can match all the other top drivers.

  2. Lucas Wilson (@full-throttle-f1) said on 13th November 2013, 11:15

    @keithcollantine

    small typo, with not wirth :-)

  3. GeeMac (@geemac) said on 13th November 2013, 11:18

    In a weird way, I hope he does win the last 2 races. 13 in a season and 9 in a row would be a ridiculous achievement in such a strong field.

    • Nathan (@il-ferrarista) said on 13th November 2013, 11:49

      Yes absolutely it is, but remember that RB09 is the dominant car of the 2nd half of 2013.

      • MazdaChris (@mazdachris) said on 13th November 2013, 11:54

        But only when Vettel is at the wheel..

        • Lucas Wilson (@full-throttle-f1) said on 13th November 2013, 12:06

          @mazdachris

          Lets remember Webber is a very average driver.

          • MazdaChris (@mazdachris) said on 13th November 2013, 12:06

            Indeed. Though a truly dominant car would be dominant in anyone’s hands, even those of an average driver.

          • petebaldwin (@petebaldwin) said on 13th November 2013, 14:44

            @full-throttle-f1 – I’m sure it’s down partly to the blown diffuser. Vettel has absolutely mastered getting the revs just in the sweet-spot to be feed the diffuser in a way Webber hasn’t.

            When the regs changed and Red Bull hadn’t got their blown diffuser working again, Webber was on a par with Vettel. Once they got the blown diffuser working efficiently, Vettel disappeared into the distance.

            IMO if you drive the Red Bull right, it is that dominant.

            I honestly don’t expect Vettel to be anywhere near as dominant next year when the new regs remove the oppertunity to do this.

          • Loup Garou (@loup-garou) said on 14th November 2013, 11:12

            I do not like Webber but he is definitely NOT an ‘average’ driver. I rate Webber at the same level as Button or Rosberg. He shows-up as mediocre because he is up against Vettel. People will realise just how good a driver Webber really was when Vettel moves to another team.

        • Nathan (@il-ferrarista) said on 13th November 2013, 12:06

          Very much true dat, but remember success breed success, – Web hasn’t had the motivation to follow Vettel all in, in these five years as teammates. I’ll totally agree that Vet was WC-material already from early 09, and Webber’s never ever been anything like that.

          Still, RB09 is an almighty car. And I don’t want to start *another* long discussion about this.

          • Lucas Wilson (@full-throttle-f1) said on 13th November 2013, 12:10

            @mazdachris

            Not true. I think he is very average on Pirelli tyres, if it was Bridgestones he’d be quicker. I don’t think he has the motivation to win anymore. Also Mazda Chris, if you or I were to drive the Red Bull, I don’t think we would won, so your idea that a dominant car can be driven by anyone is a bit silly ;-)

          • MazdaChris (@mazdachris) said on 13th November 2013, 12:23

            Hey speak for yourself, I’m an excellent driver ;-)

            I think the subject of Webber has been covered in a lot of depth before so there’s not really much point going over it all again here. I was just pointing out that the only other benchmark we have for how good the RB9 is, makes it look like a fairly decent but certainly not exceptional race car. We’ll see how Ricciardo does next year I guess.

            As I say below, I feel like the combination of Vettel, the great car, and fantastic teamwork from RBR is a combination wiht virtually no weaknesses. It’s almost inevitable they will win the next two races.

          • Jeanrien (@jeanrien) said on 13th November 2013, 14:15

            @mazdachris to be more accurate and raise less polemic, we should say the car is tuned to Vettel’s feelings. He knows what he wants and when he gets it, the others just have to look at his rear. I think that this is his main strength.
            And we have seen with Grosjean/Raikonen how a setup can influence inter team battle …

          • Nathan (@il-ferrarista) said on 13th November 2013, 14:24

            @jeanrien ; good post, +10. That’s the main issue, is that the car is more tuned for Seb than vice versa (more doesn’t mean completely!, but still.. ). And also, Seb utilizes rb09′s capabilities in a much greater degree than Webber – and that’s a typical WC-trait.

      • HoHum (@hohum) said on 13th November 2013, 19:59

        Get real, every RBR 1-2 would be a Webber victory if not for Vettel, car or driver is debateable till the cows come home but in those RBR lockouts give Webber the credit he deserves, he has beaten every other driver out there except Vettel, and sometimes he has even beaten Vettel.

  4. Maksutov (@maksutov) said on 13th November 2013, 11:25

    Will Vettel take a record eighth win in a row?

    I say, yes. But I’d be happy to be proven wrong.

  5. Mike Dee (@mike-dee) said on 13th November 2013, 11:30

    Webber has a chance as the hard and medium tyres are used.

  6. Tomsk (@tomsk) said on 13th November 2013, 11:34

    At least they’re using proper tyres, and not bringing unsuitable soft ones that last 3 laps because, shock horror, someone did one stop last year.

    But this year there’s nobody capable of taking the fight to Vettel, like Hamilton in his McLaren.
    So I predict Seb will disappear off as usual. Webber or Grosjean will lead the peloton…

  7. Sherlock said on 13th November 2013, 11:35

    Don’t think that “antiseptic” is a bad charcteristics for racetrack.

  8. Chris (@tophercheese21) said on 13th November 2013, 11:44

    I love COTA. I think it’s the best Tilke designed circuit, with Istanbul a close second.

    Can’t wait!

  9. MazdaChris (@mazdachris) said on 13th November 2013, 11:45

    I think the only thing that’ll stop Vettel winning the two remaining races will be reliability or accidents. In a normal race, I don’t see that anyone will beat him on pace. He’s in a great car, and he’s driving as well as he ever has done. He’s virtually unbeatable.

    On a side note – I wonder if they’ll paint over the stars on the runoff area again? They painted over them last year so there were only stripes, but they were back again for the WEC round earlier this year. Hope they keep them as it’s a really cool looking design.

  10. Lucas Wilson (@full-throttle-f1) said on 13th November 2013, 12:07

    That picture disturbs me, why is there a McLaren on the front row?! Everyone knows that’s not possible!!!!

  11. I’m curious whether or not Vettel will be taking a very wide line into turn 6 again. He was loosing 0.4s there the whole race last year to Hamilton who was taking a very tight line to carry a lot of speed. This is why Vettel lost the race, not because of “cucumber”.

    • Mike Dee (@mike-dee) said on 13th November 2013, 21:49

      You just made that up, didn’t you? I clearly remember Vettel always pulling away slightly in turns 3 to 9, with Hamilton being able to get closer again on the start/finish straight. He was always just outside 1 second at the DRS detection until the time Vettel had to lap Karthikeyan. In that lap, he couldn’t pull away from Hamilton between turns 3 and 9, as he had to follow Karthikeyan through those turns. This was enough for Hamilton to get into DRS range and complete the overtake using DRS. @vjm

      • Juzh (@juzh) said on 14th November 2013, 9:27

        @mike-dee Not precisely. I just watched last’s year onboard mix and mclaren was clearly the superior car trough high speed sector 1. Only hamilton and button were able to hug that inside line and no one else. They did not sacrifice any entry speed to be able to do that and they were gaining massively on the cars in front trough that section, even on the lotuses who were just as quick trough there in quali as the RB. Hamilton regularly pulled 0,2-0,3s on vettel in that section. Hamilton was in DRS range for the majority of the race, but was making zero impression on vettel who just kept focusing on getting a good exit onto the long straight, until he got stuck behind a moving chicane aka hrt. Hamilton was also making mistakes left, right and center. Mclaren was without a shadow of doubt the faster car that weekend.

  12. Steve C said on 13th November 2013, 12:32

    The Circuit of The Americas is a wonderful layout originally designed by Tavo Hellmund and of course built by Tilke. If you’ve never been – you need to come see for yourself. Austin is a fantastic place (I’ve been here since 1968) with lots of stuff to do in and around the central Texas area.

    If the fans aren’t here this year it’s because of two reseasons: 1. CoTA management has made some questionable decisions over the past year and that has left a bad taste in a few mouths. 2. The Obama economy still hasn’t come around (hasn’t surfaced at all IMHO) and many places outside of Texas are still hurting for jobs.

    Y’all come on down…

  13. Hairs (@hairs) said on 13th November 2013, 13:25

    I tweeted @pontifex’s hat supplier and his response was “Well, Duh”.

  14. Krichelle (@krichelle) said on 13th November 2013, 13:45

    I am not sure if Hamilton or anyone can defeat Vettel this weekend, except Webber. Hamilton won last year because the McLaren car was almost equal as that of Red Bull’s. And don’t forget that Narain held Vettel up in the Silverstone section allowing Hamilton to close the gap and overtake.

    Basically, I don’t see anyone else except Vettel winning unless Mark can do an amazing performance like Abu Dhabi last race.

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