Three is the magic number and the battle is on between championship leader Sebastian Vettel and his rival Fernando Alonso for this year’s Formula 1 world championship. Two races to go and we begin what should be a fantastic double-header with this weekend’s United States Grand Prix at the brand new Circuit of the Americas, to the south-east of Austin, Texas. But there can only be one winner…
Both drivers were in attendance at this afternoon’s pre-event press conference, performing admirably as the pressure grows on each of them to secure their third crown. Vettel was as jovial as always, while Alonso looked to be already ‘in the zone’, fully concentrated, driven and hungry. His mind was clearly elsewhere as the Q&A session went on around him. Kimi Raikkonen was at his eloquent best, lifting the spirits of everyone with his amusing answers, egged on at times by Lewis Hamilton.
The 5.516km track offers a clean sheet of paper for the teams to work with, and the destiny of this weekend’s race in Austin could partly be decided by who hits the ground running first. Two 90-minute practice sessions are on the menu tomorrow, giving the drivers their first impression of the circuit and a chance to find the best set-up.
Weatherwise, little has changed since my early forecast entry at the start of this week. Texas has experienced something of a cool spell since a cold front blew through the region at the weekend. Chilly mornings have been followed by fine and sunny afternoons, but temperatures have fallen short of the average for this time of year.
However, things are set to warm up a little of the next few days, while the overall trend remains stable. It will be mainly cloudy this evening and that will help to keep temperatures a little milder than of late, falling to a minimum of eight degrees.
Tomorrow is set to be another dry and fine day, but it will be especially cool in the morning and gradually warming up during first practice. It will be mainly sunny for the duration of the on-track running and air temperature will climb to a high of 20 Celsius. The light breeze will continue, but it is expected to veer round to the north-east overnight and remain from this direction for the two sessions.
It remains to be seen who gets to grips with the new circuit better and it should be a great day’s entertainment. Once practice has concluded, I will be back to review track conditions and look ahead in detail to the Saturday forecast, but there is little change expected over the next 48 hours.