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Total Idiot Guide to the 2018 Formula One USA Grand Prix

See if you're just going to watch a Formula One race a year, so you can do this this weekend,…

See if you’re just going to watch a Formula One race a year, so you can do this this weekend, when the single American contest on the calendar (for now) comes to Austin, Texas. This is what you can expect from the United States Grand Prix on Sunday.

What is the American Grand Prix?

F1 raced in the US for decades, with some of these events that are not going well. F1 returned to America after a five year break in 2012, with a great price at Circuit of America in Austin. The series has come to COTA every year since then but not without lots of drama and fear that the race would not make the F1

calendar. Fortunately, it was not this time.

Circuit of Americas, a 3.4 mile, 20-track with a sharp first corner, S-turn and lots of other tight curves, is F1 leader Lewis Hamilton’s own personal playground.

Hamilton is just saying good here. He has won five of the six F1 races that have been held there, according to the Racing Reference Archive, and the only other driver to win at COTA is his closest rival in this year’s position, Sebastian Vettel, 2013.

It could soon be more than one F1 race in the United States, because F1’s new American owners want American races all over the calendar. A Miami Grand Prix on a mess of a street circuit would be in the 2019 schedule, but it has been driven back to at least 2020 already, and F1 also has brand names for potential Las Vegas Grand Prix and New York Grand Prix races for storage.

But currently, COTA has dibs as the only American F1 date for at least a couple of years.

Where are we in the season?

The United States Grand Prix is ​​the 18th 21 races this year. We have a more complete guide to the 2018 F1 season in general here but the closure is this: the top three teams in the latest racing seasons are Mercedes, Ferrari and Red Bull Racing, all of which have a consistent advantage over the rest of the field, and have semi-predictable closing positions among them – they are all interchangeable, but if you add games, count on Mercedes first, then Ferrari, then Red Bull.

Hamilton remains the Mercedes star and his teammate, Valtteri Bottas, sometimes gets an opportunity to follow team orders to help Hamilton’s championship leadership. Ferrari has Vettel, who is second in the championship but so far back now that it does not matter, and 38-year-old Kimi Raikkonen, who will go to Alfa Romeo Sauber after this year and be replaced by younger driver Charles Leclerc.

Red Bull has Max Verstappen and Daniel Ricciardo, the first to get an extra edge placed on COTA after a major penalty penalty last year. Ricciardo will leave Red Bull after this year for Renault.

Will the 2018 F1 title be settled this weekend?

It is a good question, considering all this talks that Hamilton is so far ahead of his closest contender in the position. The short answer here is: maybe.

The championship showed that it would be very close and competitive between Hamilton and Vettel during the first part of the race season, as Ferrari actually seemed to have a little edge. Some mistakes later almost all went down the drain, and we are now on clinch scenarios entering the US race.

Basically, if Hamilton finishes well enough and Vettel is low enough in the race, Hamilton can finish the championship several races early in Austin. This would not be the first time that happened.

Here are the clinic scenarios for Hamilton this weekend, all compiled in a nice little graphic on COTA’s Twitter account. If he can not handle this weekend, he will probably be faster than later.

Since Hamilton is so good on the track, he is a big threat to finish near the front (read: first) a wreck in the first turn. It happens sometimes.

A further complication: The weather sucks in Austin this weekend, with temperatures in the unusual low (for Texas) in the 60’s and a strong chance of raining – possibly even flooding. We expect this breed to be wet.

How can people follow the race at home?

We have reached the point where you sing “U-S-A!” And thinking about how fun it would be to see one of the world’s largest international competition titles determined on the red, white and blue soils. Here’s how and when to sing all the way to Sunday’s American Grand Prix.

When: Sunday, October 21st 2 ET

Where: Circuit of Americas in Austin, Texas

TV Channel in the United States: ^ ABC, coverage starts at 1:30 pm ET

Streaming via F1: F1 TV Pro, $ 11.99 per month or $ 99.99 per year

Live Updates Without Video Coverage: F1 TV Access, $ 2.99 per month or $ 26.99 per year, or just create a Twitter list of F1 accounts and follow free.

There are also exercises and qualified sessions, with qualification consisting of three elimination rounds that determine the starting line. The qualification is at 5 ET on Saturday with coverage via streams or at ESPN News in America.

Get your stars and strip pajamas on whether you go to the competition or watch it at home and get ready for a fun-as hopefully this will be.

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Faela