The championship titles are pretty much settled with Max joining an exclusive club of three time World Champions, but that doesn’t mean everything’s set in stone for the rest of the teams and drivers. They’ve still got something to fight for in the next five races. So, here’s the lowdown on what’s buzzing as we head to Austin for the 2023 US Grand Prix.
So, Red Bull isn’t exactly the hottest team right now. Well, they’ve won two of the last three Grands Prix, but McLaren is giving them a run for their money. McLaren has been on fire lately, racking up 104 points in the last three race weekends. Yep, that’s more than Red Bull’s 74, more than Ferrari’s 70, more than Mercedes’ 63, and a whole lot more than Aston Martin’s measly 13. McLaren has been killing it on the track, especially in the high-speed races at Suzuka and Qatar.
With the way they’re going, McLaren might even pose a threat to Ferrari in the constructors’ standings. But don’t bet on them having that same level of performance at all the upcoming races. Mercedes, Ferrari, and Aston Martin will be looking to bounce back at the Circuit of The Americas, and they might just have to.
Despite McLaren’s strong showing at the Qatar Grand Prix, Mercedes was left with a sense of missed opportunities. George Russell displayed impressive pace, climbing from the back of the field to finish a competitive fourth, despite the limitations of maximum tire stint lengths.
However, Russell’s race from the back was a result of a collision with his teammate Lewis Hamilton at Turn 1, which ultimately ended Hamilton’s race. Initially, both drivers pointed fingers at each other, but after a bit of cooling off, Hamilton took full responsibility. Russell also tried to smooth things over by pointing out that it takes two to tango in such incidents.
While the two Mercedes drivers handled the collision well, Russell’s radio comment of “Guys come on. Two races in a row!” underscores how incidents can start to pile up and create tension, especially if they happen in quick succession. It’s not a major issue at this point, but it’s something to watch out for if they find themselves battling for position again at the Circuit of The Americas.
You might have already caught a glimpse of Haas’ snazzy new race suits for their home race in Austin, but they’re not just making changes to their attire. They’ve got something more substantial in the works for their car.
No, I’m not talking about a fresh paint job, but a whole new aerodynamic package that they’ve been working on throughout the season. It’s following a similar path to the one Red Bull has taken, which many other teams are also exploring. This new package could be a game-changer for Haas on a couple of fronts.
In the short term, they really need a performance boost this season if they want to get back in the running for seventh place in the constructors’ championship. They’ve slipped behind Williams by 11 points recently, and Alfa Romeo even leapfrogged them in Qatar with a double-points finish. So, anything that improves their chances of a top-ten finish is a big deal.
But there’s a bigger game plan at play here. Haas is eager to see if their new development and approach work before they lock in certain aspects of their car for 2024. Whether it has an instant impact or not, this upgrade is likely to shape Haas’ strategy for next year.
We’re in for a Sprint race in Austin, a first for this track, and it’s the first time we’re having back-to-back Sprint events, coming right after the thrill of Qatar. The different strategies on Saturday at Qatar brought all sorts of action. The folks on the soft tires shot forward and then, just as quickly, slid back, while those on the mediums had a smoother ride.
All of this led to a ton of on-track battles and a bunch of incidents that needed the Safety Car to step in at Lusail. So, the excitement is already building to see what the Circuit of The Americas has in store for us.
The only team currently trailing Haas in the constructors’ championship is AlphaTauri. They’re gearing up to welcome Daniel Ricciardo back in Austin.
Ricciardo has been sidelined for the last five races due to a broken hand. He came close to making a comeback in Qatar but, after a simulator session, he opted for the extra two weeks to ensure he continues to recover properly. This means that it’s time for Liam Lawson to hang up his F1 gloves for the time being. The Kiwi has been fantastic behind the wheel of the Alpha Tauri, and it’s clear that there’s huge potential with him having picked up points, not even in his rookie season and at circuits he’s never raced on before.
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