Max Verstappen has had two weeks to celebrate his drivers’ title success and now returns to the track hoping to tie up a first constructors' crown in nine years for Red Bull.
Verstappen led home a one-two for Red Bull in Japan and, after some brief confusion over whether full points would be awarded for the rain-shortened race at Suzuka, the Dutchman and his team were able to start the party.
A repeat result in this weekend’s United States Grand Prix would be enough to rubber-stamp Red Bull’s superiority over the 2022 Formula 1 season with just another 26 points needed to wrap up the constructors’ title.
|What||United States Grand Prix|
|Where||Circuit of the Americas, Austin, Texas|
|When||20:00, Sunday 23rd October|
|How to watch||Sky Sports F1 & Main Event|
|Odds||Max Verstappen 2/5, Lewis Hamilton 7/1, Sergio Perez 7/1, Charles Leclerc 12/1, Carlos Sainz 12/1|
Verstappen could also equal the record for most wins in a single season by taking the chequered flag for the 13th time and the now two-time world champion is 2/5 to make it back-to-back wins after his 2021 success at the Circuit of the Americas.
Last year, Verstappen edged a thrilling battle with Lewis Hamilton to claim victory in Austin, but despite Mercedes introducing its final round of upgrades for the year this weekend, the Silver Arrows face an uphill battle if they want to challenge Red Bull once more.
A year on from narrowly missing out on a fifth win in the nine F1 races staged at the Circuit of the Americas, and subsequently the drivers title, Mercedes return to Texas more in hope than expectation of securing a first win of the year.
Red Bull have been dominant in the second half of the season and could become only the second team to win eight races on the spin this weekend.
The RB18 has been strong at every type of track and their decision to cater the challenger more towards Verstappen’s strengths was clearly the right call based on his storming run to the title.
Hamilton admitted in Singapore that Mercedes have a lot of work to do in the off-season if they want to close the gap in 2023, although the team hope the upgrades planned for this weekend could form part of a new and improved car for next year.
Mercedes could do with the upgrades producing some positive results now after going backwards recently. Hamilton hasn’t made the podium in the last five races, while George Russell was off the pace in Singapore and Japan.
Hamilton is 7/1 to win this race for a sixth time in his career and maintain this proud streak he has of winning at least one race in each season he has been in Formula 1, but he’ll need a helping hand if he’s to break his 2022 duck.
It has been Ferrari, rather than Mercedes, who have proven to be Red Bull’s closest challengers in recent races, although how serious a threat they pose is debatable.
The Scuderia have been hindered by a catalogue of mechanical and tactical issues throughout this season, with their biggest problem currently being tyre wear.
Charles Leclerc said his tyres were lasting just three laps in Japan before they were “destroyed” and given all he’s had to deal with this year, the Monegasque has done well to stay within one point of Red Bull’s Sergio Perez in second in the drivers’ standings.
Perez hasn’t found the car as easy to drive as Verstappen and if Ferrari can solve their tyre issue, there’s a chance to salvage something from a season that promised so much at the start but has slowly disintegrated.
The fans will be out in force to see whether Ferrari can save face with over 400,000 fans expected to attend the Circuit of Americas across the three days. The home supporters will have more to cheer for than usual with an American driver taking part in an F1 session for the first time since 2015.
Florida native Logan Sargeant, who has caught the eye in Formula 2 this season, will drive for Williams in first practice in a potential audition for a race seat for 2023.
With Nicolas Latifi leaving the Oxfordshire outfit at the end of this season, there’s a spot available at Williams and Sargeant is understood to be amongst those on the shortlist of candidates.
There could also be a seat at Haas going next year too after team owner Gene Haas admitted that Mick Schumacher isn’t assured of his drive.
The son of F1 legend Michael Schumacher currently sits below his team mate Kevin Magnussen in the drivers’ standings after a poor run of results and Gene Haas says his string of accidents means it’s fast becoming financially unsustainable to keep him on as a driver.
Mick needs a strong end to the season, starting this weekend if there’s to be a Schumacher on the grid in 2023.Safer Gambling Week (17-23 October) - Let’s talk about safer gambling. Click here for more information on independent resources. Gamble Responsibly.