All info you want to see before the 2021 US F1 GP starts
The 2021 Formula 1 World Championship continues with its 17th Grand Prix this weekend at Austin. The 2021 United States Grand Prix will be a new round in the intense battle for the 2021 World Drivers’ Championship between Red Bull and Mercedes Max Verstappen and Lewis Hamilton.
|Ferrari starting to push McLaren for third place|
|USA GP Facts & Figures|
|Circuit of the Americas track info|
|USA GP Tyre Compounds|
|COTA weekend weather forecast|
|USA GP Podium Prediction|
Valtteri Bottas won the last race, the 2021 Turkish Grand Prix, which was held under wet conditions, and the Finnish driver’s victory (his first since last year’s Russian Grand Prix) gave Mercedes consecutive victories for the first time in 2021 since the third and fourth races of the season, at Portugal and Spain.
Mercedes has been highly competitive in the last few rounds, but it has not produced big results for Hamilton in the WDC, as a crash with Verstappen in Italy, bad luck with the late rain in Russia and an engine penañty in Turkey have the British driver second in the WDC, behind the Dutchman.
Verstappen, on his side, has taken advantage of every opportunity in the second half of the season, apart from the crash at Monza, and has two consecutive P2 finishes which have helped him take the championship lead with six races to go.
At Austin, it will be interesting to see which team has the most balanced car for the tremendous Circuit of the Americas, and the fight for the win could be wide open between the two teams.
Verstappen is the WDC leader with 262.5 points against Hamilton’s 256.5. The Dutchman has won seven races so far, while the British driver has five to his name. Verstappen has taken 12 podiums this year, against the seven-time World Champion’s 11 on the year.
In the World Constructors’ Championship, Red Bull has underperformed, perhaps because of the entire focus being on Verstappen’s quest for the title. Sergio Pérez was on the podium at Turkey after a great race and he should’ve taken lots of points at Russia without a bad pit-stop and the late rain. Therefore, Mercedes leads the World Constructors’ Championship with 433.5 points against Red Bull’s 397.5.
Ferrari starting to push McLaren for third place
The Scuderia Ferrari and McLaren have been engaged for a year-long battle behind Mercedes and Red Bull in the World Constructors’ Championship, and despite taking a win on a 1-2 in the second half of the year, the Woking team has not been able to shake the Maranello squad off.
In the most recent outing at Turkey, Ferrari took a big hit against McLaren, with the team scoring 16 points against McLaren’s six at Istanbul. Charles Leclerc qualified fourth and finished fourth after leading the race briefly, and Carlos Sainz recovered from a grid penalty to finish eighth and earn Driver of the Day distinction.
McLaren struggled in Turkey, and Lando Norris could only salvage six points with a P7 finish, while Daniel Ricciardo finished in 13th place. Ferrari is now 7.5 points behind McLaren for P3 in the WCC and that fight could certainly go down to the wire.
Alpine (with Fernando Alonso and Esteban Ocon) and AlphaTauri (Pierre Gasly and Yuki Tsunoda) continue to fight for P5 in the WCC, but the French team’s advantage was reduced in Turkey as Pierre Gasly finished sixth for AlphaTauri and Ocon finished 10th for Alpine, while their respective teammates failed to score.
Aston Martin (Sebastian Vettel and Lance Stroll) remains lonely on seventh place in the WCC with 61 points and probably nowhere to go. Williams (George Russell and Nicholas Latifi) follows with 23 points in eighth place.
Alfa Romeo (Kimi Raikkonen and Antonio Giovinazzi) and Haas (Mick Schumacher and Nikita Mazepin) close out the Constructors’ standings with seven and no points, respectively. Haas is coming off a Q2 appearance with Schumacher at Turkey, and it could certainly be an emotional boost for the German rookie and the entire outfit.
2021 US GP Facts & Figures
The 2021 edition of the US Grand Prix will be the 71st Formula 1 World Championship race held in the country.
Of course, the United States’ story in the Formula 1 World Championship is full of different stages, as the country has held 70 Grands Prix already, but the 2021 event will be the 42nd race with the “US Grand Prix” title that is part of the World Championship of Drivers.
Apart from the United States GP, the country has hosted six different GPs by title, including the Indianapolis 500 (11 between 1950 and 1960), US Grand Prix (four different eras since 1959), US Grand Prix West (eight between 1976 and 1983), a couple of Caesars Palace GPs in 1981 and 1982, Detroit GP (from 1982 to 1988) and one Dallas GP in 1984.
No other country has hosted more different GPs by name than the US, with Italy coming in second place in that regard with five (Italian, Pescara, San Marino, Tuscan and Emilia Romagna GP).
The United States Grand Prix has been held in six different circuits, starting with Sebring in 1959, Riverside in 1960, Watkins Glen from 1961 to 1980, Phoenix from 1989 to 1991, Indianapolis Motor Speedway from 2000 to 2007, and Austin since 2012.
The event has seen pretty much all sides of Formula 1, including tragic scenes, championship-winning efforts, maiden wins, scandals, a six-car race, a famous return to the top of the podium, and more.
Sir Jack Brabham clinched the first of his three World Drivers’ Championships at the US, in 1959, while Innes Ireland gave Team Lotus its first win in 1961 at Watkins Glen, and his only Grand Prix triumph. Jochen Rindt achieved his maiden win at the US in 1969, while Emerson Fittipaldi’s first-ever win clinched the posthumous WDC for Rindt, who had tragically died at Monza earlier in 1970, and the 1970 World Constructors’ Championship for Lotus.
Francois Cevert won the 1971 event, but his story with the circuit ended tragically in 1973, when he died during practice for the race. Cevert was Jackie Stewart’s Tyrrell teammate, and he had finished second in 1972 in a 1-2 for the team.
Stewart retired right before the 1973 event due to Cevert’s death. He had already planned to retire after winning his third Formula 1 championship but did not start what would’ve been his 100th Grand Prix after his friend’s death.
During the US Grand Prix’s first decades in the F1 circus, the race was often scheduled as the last race of the year or near the end of the calendar, which is why some titles were decided in the US.
In 1974, Emerson Fittipaldi sealed his second Formula 1 World Championship driving his McLaren M23, and beating Ferrari’s Clay Regazzoni for the WDC. However, the race was marred by the fatal accident of Austrian Helmuth Koinigg.
Austrian legend Niki Lauda sealed his second Formula 1 World Championship driving his Ferrari 312T2 to P4 while James Hunt took his second consecutive win at the US.
The last F1 race held at Watkins Glen came in 1980, with Alan Jones winning with Carlos Reutemann second in a Williams 1-2. World Champions Fittipaldi and Jody Scheckter competed in F1 for the final time during the 1980 event.
The US Grand Prix returned to the calendar in 1989 and was held at Phoenix until 1991. Those years were in the middle of the McLaren-Honda domination, and the team won all three races at Phoenix, with Alain Prost winning in 1989 and Ayrton Senna in 1990 and 1991.
The event was again out of the calendar for nine years until its return in 2000, but this time, the Indianapolis Motor Speedway held the US round in its Grand Prix Road Course, which was 4.192-km long.
The US Grand Prix took place at Indianapolis eight times, and Ferrari won six times, with Michael Schumacher winning five races and ‘giving’ Rubens Barrichello the 2002 event by 0.011 seconds.
In the 2001 event, Mika Hakkinen took the 20th and last win of his Formula 1 career for McLaren-Mercedes, while Lewis Hamilton achieved his second GP win in 2007 after a battle with teammate Fernando Alonso.
The 2005 US Grand Prix saw only the six Bridgestone-equipped teams compete as a result of a massive withdrawal from those teams with Michelin tyres (including front runners Renault and McLaren) due to safety concerns.
The six-car race was definitely a weird sight for F1 fans on the circuit and watching on TV and was won by Michael Schumacher in a Ferrari 1-2, while Tiago Monteiro achieved the only podium of his career for Jordan.
The 2007 event was the last F1 race at Indy to date, as financial issues generated by the fee paid by the track owners at the time put the track away from the Formula 1 calendar.
The Circuit of the Americas held the return of the Formula 1 United States Grand Prix in 2012 and the Hermann Tilke-designed track lived up to expectations and earned a good reputation among drivers.
Hamilton won in F1’s return to the United States after a late overtake on Sebastian Vettel’s Red Bull. It was Hamilton’s final win for McLaren and the second consecutive for him at the US, after his 2007 triumph for the same team.
Vettel went on to win from Pole Position in 2013, in what was his eighth consecutive victory of the season, and established a new record (which would go to nine straight wins in the final race of that season).
Hamilton then won for Mercedes from 2014 to 2017, while Kimi Raikkonen famously won the 2018 event driving the Ferrari SF71H ahead of Red Bull’s Max Verstappen and Hamilton. It was Raikkonen’s first win since the 2013 Australian Grand Prix, his first for Ferrari since the 2009 Belgian Grand Prix, and the 21st of his career, breaking Mika Hakkinen’s record for wins by a Finnish driver.
Raikkonen had to wait for 113 races to return to the top of the podium, which is the longest gap between wins by a driver in F1 history.
Hamilton finished second in the 2019 event, behind another Finnish race-winner at Austin, Valtteri Bottas, and secured his sixth Formula 1 World Championship. The Covid-19 pandemic did not allow the race to go ahead in 2020, but it is expected to make a big return with the 2021 round, and the current WDC fight should make it an exciting event.
Among drivers, Lewis Hamilton is the all-time leader in wins at the United States Grand Prix with six, one at Indy and five at Austin. Among teams, Ferrari leads with 10 triumphs, ahead of Lotus and McLaren (eight each).
Circuit of the Americas
The Circuit of the Americas, at Austin, Texas, is a 5.514-km long circuit designed by Hermann Tilke. After mentioning that the site of the last race, Istanbul Park, might be Tilke’s best track, the COTA makes its entrance and is also a circuit that can be considered as the German designer’s best track.
The circuit has it all, with a tremendous first sector that is similar to the Suzuka esses or the Maggotts-Becketts-Chapel section of Silverstone, a long back straight (1.00 km), and a multi-apex right-hander in the final sector which is similar to Istanbul’s Turn 8.
It has 20 turns and is a complex that requires good setup compromise to cope with many curves, a long straight and elevation changes. Recently, the track hosted the MotoGP Grand Prix of the Americas and many riders criticized the many bumps of the asphalt and threatened to not return if the issues weren’t addressed.
Ahead of the F1 weekend, the track could be smoothed out for the race, even though some drivers mentioned in 2019 that the bumps were part of the character and the challenge of the track.
The lap records at the Circuit of the Americas were established by Charles Leclerc, driving for Ferrari in 2019, with a 1:36.169 min lap in the 2019 race. Valtteri Bottas established the outright Fastest Lap in Qualifying for the 2019 race, with a 1:32.029 min lap in the Mercedes W10.
2021 US Grand Prix - Tyres
The dry tyres for the 2021 US Grand Prix will be the C2 as P Zero White hard, C3 as P Zero Yellow Medium, and C4 as P Zero Red soft.
Pirelli explained their choice to go with the hardest option with a statement in a press release: “Following a year out due to the Covid-19 pandemic in 2020, Austin returns to the Formula 1 calendar this year with a slightly new look. During 2020 the track underwent a partial resurfacing, involving around 40% of its total length.
Although the roughness of the new asphalt has not been measured yet, Pirelli has confirmed the same nomination as two years ago in Austin based on the available data, with the three compounds in the middle of the range: C2 as the P Zero White hard, C3 as the P Zero Yellow medium, and C4 as the P Zero Red soft.
These tyres are well-matched to the wide range of demands imposed by the famous Texan circuit, which first joined the Formula 1 calendar in 2012. The track contains a bit of everything, with the layout having been inspired by different corners from some of the most famous tracks in the world.
The weather in Texas at this time of year can be unpredictable. The selection of compounds chosen is consequently quite adaptable to a wide variety of temperatures, although this year’s race is being held earlier in the season than last time.”
The minimum starting pressures for the tyres will be 21.5 PSI (front) and 19.0 PSI (rear).
2021 US Grand Prix - Weather Forecast
Friday, Oct 22nd - FP1 & FP2
Conditions: Warm with sunshine
Max. temperature: 31°C
Chance of rain: 3%
Sunday, Oct 24th - Race
Conditions: Partly sunny and humid
Max. temperature: 29°C
Chance of rain: 17%
Who will be on the 2021 US Grand Prix podium?
The weather for the 2021 United States Grand Prix, as of now, looks set to give us a dry, warm race in which strategy could produce a tremendous fight all around the Circuit of the Americas.
In dry conditions, Mercedes looked well in the last few rounds, a bit better than Red Bull, although the picture has been a bit blurry due to engine penalties and some qualifying woes. For the upcoming race, many expect Mercedes to have an advantage, but the Red Bull RB16B has proven to be a versatile car that can be competitive on any circuit at any time under any weather condition.
Lewis Hamilton has certainly owned the Austin event, as he’s won five of the eight races at the place. However, he has not won in the last two outings at Texas, and would certainly need to prove his dominance in the circuit once again to possibly regain the WDC lead in the heated fight with Max Verstappen.
Verstappen, on his side, has been a great performer at COTA, having a podium deleted in the 2017 race after starting from 16th place, scoring a second place in 2018 after starting from 18th place, and finishing third in the 2019 event.
As a rookie, Verstappen finished fourth for Toro Rosso in the 2015 race, which was held under mixed weather conditions. At the time, that was Verstappen’s best result, equalling his P4 from the 2015 Hungarian Grand Prix.
We should expect Hamilton and Verstappen to battle for the win on Sunday if both have smooth qualifying sessions, and it could definitely be another intense on-track battle between the title contenders in which strategy and racecraft will play a huge role in determining the result.
It is difficult to expect another team to compete against Mercedes and Red Bull at Austin, and each team’s second driver would probably battle it out against each other. Between McLaren and Ferrari, things could get interesting, but the Ferrari might be the most versatile car at this point and the Maranello-based squad could be primed to have a solid weekend at Austin.
The prediction for the Top 3 of the 2021 US Grand Prix is 1. Max Verstappen, 2. Lewis Hamilton, 3. Sergio Pérez.
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