The race to the chequered flag this season continues with Formula 1's United States Grand Prix in Austin this weekend.
Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg reprise their head-to-head title battle at the front, but at the back there are a number of other subplots—none bigger than the fact that four cars of the 22 are missing as Marussia and Caterham battle to survive.
How will Austin play out? It's hard to say precisely—but the F1 team are overwhelmingly tipping a Lewis Hamilton triumph.
Mark Patterson: Forget the thrilling finish to the season right now—with Jules Bianchi's serious injury in Japan, and the subsequent absence of Caterham and Marussia from Austin for financial reasons, F1 feels as if it's in as dark a place as it's been for a while.
Austin is a great addition to the calendar, but a nondescript race dominated by Mercedes and particularly Lewis Hamilton will do little to alleviate the tensions.
Oliver Harden: Who could bet against Lewis Hamilton at the moment? The 2008 world champion will extend his winning run to five in Austin, although Nico Rosberg might repeat his Suzuka antics and take pole position from under his team-mate's nose.
Expect Valtteri Bottas, who enjoyed his best weekend at this track last year, to keep the Mercedes drivers honest.
Matthew Walthert: Until he demonstrates otherwise (and don't hold your breath waiting for that to happen), there is no reason to pick anyone other than Hamilton. He has a 17-point lead in the championship, but you can bet he would like to have the title wrapped up before the double-points finale in Abu Dhabi.
It'll take some unreliability from Rosberg to make that happen, but expect another dominant performance this weekend from Mercedes and especially Hamilton.
Neil James: Lewis Hamilton has an impressive Austin record—he won for McLaren in 2012 and was fourth in a less-competitive Mercedes in 2013. He's also on a roll, having won the last four races. The Brit appears to be hitting peak form at just the right time, and it's difficult to see anyone stopping him chalking up a 10th victory of 2014.
Further back, Williams should have the edge on Red Bull in the fight to be best of the rest.
Bob Margolis: American race fans will have to settle for a less-than-full field this weekend, but the action will be top notch nonetheless. Past USGP weekends have had little title drama or excitement. This year’s championship story will make up for it as the Mercedes drivers battle for their individual supremacy against a gang of toughs disguised as Formula One drivers. This is prime time entertainment at its finest.
|Columnist||Mark Patterson||Oliver Harden||Matthew Walthert||Neil James||Bob Margolis|
|Pole Position||Lewis Hamilton||Nico Rosberg||Lewis Hamilton||Lewis Hamilton||Lewis Hamilton|
|Race Winner||Lewis Hamilton||Lewis Hamilton||Lewis Hamilton||Lewis Hamilton||Lewis Hamilton|
|Fastest Lap||Lewis Hamilton||Lewis Hamilton||Lewis Hamilton||Lewis Hamilton||Nico Rosberg|
|Number of Finishers||15||16||15||15||14|
Here's how we did in Russia and what the results of the race did to our scores so far this season:
|Columnist||Mark Patterson||Oliver Harden||Matthew Walthert||Neil James||Bob Margolis||RESULT|
|Pole Position||Nico Rosberg||Lewis Hamilton||Lewis Hamilton||Nico Rosberg||Lewis Hamilton||Lewis Hamilton|
|Race Winner||Lewis Hamilton||Lewis Hamilton||Lewis Hamilton||Lewis Hamilton||Lewis Hamilton||Lewis Hamilton|
|Fastest Lap||Lewis Hamilton||Lewis Hamilton||Lewis Hamilton||Sebastian Vettel||Nico Rosberg||Valtteri Bottas|
|Number of Finishers||18||17||17||17||20||19|
|Points This Season||37||39||39||39||-*|
How the Scores Are Calculated
The right answer earns you one point, except in the case of total finishers, where you can be two cars either side. However, if you predict the exact correct number of finishers, you pick up two points.
Feel free to play along in the comments to see how you fare against our predictions.
*Bob Margolis does not have an overall score as he joined our predictions midway through the season.