In 2015, Lewis Hamilton secured his third Formula One world championship after a thrilling win in the United States Grand Prix. A year on, the Mercedes driver will be out to keep his dwindling hopes of a fourth alive.
Hamilton heads to Texas with a 33-point deficit to make up on team-mate Nico Rosberg, who has won four of the last five races to pull clear. With just 100 points still to play for, the title-holder needs to produce something special at a race he’s enjoyed great success at in recent years.
The odds are against the Englishman, although the 2016 season has taken so many different twists and turns, drama feels inevitable at the Circuit of the Americas on Sunday.
Here’s a look at the schedule, key viewing details and what to expect from a crucial race.
Date: Sunday, October 23
Race Time: 8 p.m. (BST), 3 p.m. (ET)
The action will be shown live on Sky Sports (U.K.) and NBC (U.S.)
For the full field of drivers, visit Formula One's official website.
Hamilton Hopes Hanging by a Thread
Even if he was to hook things up in the last four races of the season, Hamilton will still be relying on his team-mate to finish further down the field if he’s to ultimately win the world title.
The British driver has been under major scrutiny in recent weeks. In Malaysia, he bemoaned a lack of reliability, with his car suffering engine failure with him in the lead, while last time out in Japan, he was criticised for his behaviour in a pre-race press conference before refusing to take questions after qualifying.
The main issue for the driver at the moment, though, is that he’s a long way short of his team-mate behind the wheel. Nevertheless, Hamilton seems intent on chopping down the deficit this weekend:
Even so, the Briton has spoken of how he’d handle things if he did ultimately cede his crown to his main rival, per the F1 Twitter feed:
It’d be foolish to rule Hamilton out here, especially given the affinity he has with the American fans and the race itself. He’s won four times in total in the United States, just one short of the all-time record held by Michael Schumacher.
Rosberg, by contrast, is still chasing his first win in the country. However, there’s been a different aura about the German this season, having lost an early lead to Hamilton before battling back in the second part of the campaign.
At the demanding Japanese circuit in particular, Rosberg looked to be in a class of his own, dominating the practice sessions, qualifying and eventually the race itself. As we can see here, the Mercedes man has been insatiable in his pursuit of victories this season:
Elsewhere, while Mercedes have already wrapped up the constructors' title, Red Bull will be out to take a big step toward securing second place. They’ve been battling with Ferrari for the duration of the season, but some strong showings from Daniel Ricciardo and Max Verstappen in recent races have allowed them to build a 50-point buffer to the Scuderia.
For Ferrari, all eyes will be on Sebastian Vettel in Texas, with his future with the team seemingly under scrutiny.
Per Pete Gill of Sky Sports, he’s revealed talks over a new deal have been put on hold; the revelation comes after he was criticised by team boss Maurizio Arrivabene and means the German will have just one year remaining on his current contract at the start of next season.
The focus will undoubtedly be at the front of the pack, however, and Hamilton will be hoping for a crazy race that can see him take a chunk out of Rosberg’s lead.
However, the championship leader has looked more and more at ease as the weeks have gone by this season. In the past, he may have buckled under the pressure of Hamilton breathing down his neck. But there’s a renewed steeliness about Rosberg that’ll see him take another big step toward a maiden world title in the United States.
Prediction: 1. Rosberg, 2. Hamilton, 3. Ricciardo