The three week break between Sochi and Austin should have allowed F1 to compose itself after the events of Suzuka, but there remains a cloud over the sport after a turbulent time which has seen Caterham and Marussia enter administration. Both teams will be absent from this weekend's race in Texas, leaving us with a field of just 18 cars; the smallest for almost a decade. The warnings have been there for some time, but now reality is setting in as the grid has lost - at least temporarily - all three of the teams which joined in 2010 under the belief that a cost cap would be implemented. With thoughts still with Jules Bianchi, the F1 paddock now fears for jobs at the far end of the pit lane as well. However, the show will always go on and Lewis Hamilton will look to strengthen his grip on the drivers' championship at a circuit he has already won at in the race's short history.

2013 race
The second edition of the US Grand Prix at Circuit of the Americas saw Sebastian Vettel arrive in dominant form having already secured the drivers' championship, and he duly extended his run of consecutive victories to eight. Starting from pole ahead of team-mate Mark Webber, Vettel defended will in to Turn 1 as Romain Grosjean and Lewis Hamilton both cleared Webber, and from then on the result was almost a formality. Grosjean was hugely impressive as he closed on Vettel by looking after his tyres, a move that also helped him in his fight against Webber to keep the quicker Red Bull at bay once he had cleared Hamilton late in the first stint. Hamilton had enough in hand to hold off Fernando Alonso, while a stunning pass from Valtteri Bottas around the outside of Turn 2 marked his quality as he scored his first F1 points in eighth place.

Most successful driver at Circuit of the Americas: Lewis Hamilton, Sebastian Vettel (1 win)Most successful team at Circuit of the Americas: McLaren, Red Bull (1 win)

2014 session times All times local

FP1: 1000 - 1130
FP2: 1400 - 1530
FP3: 1000 - 1100
Qualifying: 1300
Race: 1400

Track information
Lewis Hamilton: Coming across the line, all you can see is this huge hill in front of you on the run up to Turn 1. As you're braking you actually lose sight of the apex over the tyre. The corner itself is really tight and really low-grip so it's tricky to get it right. But it's important to get the best exit you can as you're then flat out through Turn 2 and into the 'S' complex of Turns 3 - 6.

This combination of corners is fast and flowing, needs good downforce and requires the driver to hit every apex to carry as much speed as possible. Positioning really is everything through here to ensure you set yourself up for the next corner with each turn. The next sequence through Turns 7 - 9 is a little tighter and you really have to take your time on entry to ensure the best possible exit through the kink of Turn 10 and downhill along the short straight to the hairpin.

The hairpin at Turn 11 is really tight. You want to brake as late as possible on the way in to defend from cars behind you - but a good exit is far more important as it's followed by a long straight with a DRS zone. You then need good stability on the brakes into Turn 12, which is a heavy braking zone, before really attacking the apex and getting on the power early to launch you into the next sequence.

Turns 13 - 15 form a really tight complex of corners with very low grip, so you're waiting for what seems like ages for the car to turn in. Turn 15 in particular is quite tricky in terms of finding the right braking point and the best line. You have to go really wide on the way in, then come tight to the apex and keep left for the next corner.

Turns 16 - 18 form one long, continuous right-hand bend that's really high-speed. It's flat-out through here but the car is constantly trying to snap away from you. You've then got to make sure you get back over to the right-hand side of the track as quickly as possible to carry the speed through the penultimate corner, Turn 19, using all of the kerb on exit. Finally, you're braking into the last corner, Turn 20, where you don't want to take too much angle on the way in before a short blast to the finish line.

Weather

While Austin can be a little on the cool side at this time of year, the teams are set for near-perfect conditions this weekend. Warm, sunny weather is predicted on both Friday and Saturday with no real threat of rain and temperatures over 25C each day. With FP1 starting at its usual slot of 10am - rather than 9am last year - any early morning fog should not be a threat to practice as it was in 2013. Sunday is set to be another dry and relatively warm day, with increased cloud likely to impact on track temperatures slightly more.

Prediction

After a fairly disjointed year up until Monza, Hamilton has been building momentum since the end of the European season and is searching for his fifth consecutive victory. After winning four in a row from Malaysia to Barcelona, Hamilton then failed to win in the following three races and will need to ensure history doesn't repeat itself if he wants to capitalise on his current 17-point lead. For Rosberg, Austin hasn't been a happy hunting ground as he finished ninth last year, but second place would be enough to ensure the title is decided in Abu Dhabi regardless of where Hamilton finishes. With the Mercedes' dominance showing no sign of relenting, we're backing the in-form Hamilton to make it five in a row at Circuit of the Americas.

 

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