2015 United States Grand Prix Preview

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The old adage that “everything is bigger in Texas” rings true when it comes to Formula 1. A bigger track, a bigger facility, a bigger event – and for this weekend’s United States Grand Prix, bigger stakes.

For on Sunday, Lewis Hamilton could become the first British driver to successfully defend his drivers’ title and become a three-time world champion in the process, emulate his hero Ayrton Senna, and firmly establish himself as one of F1’s all-time greats.

The Circuit of The Americas in Austin, Texas is yet to have witnessed an F1 title victory, but should Hamilton outscore nearest rival Sebastian Vettel by nine points and Mercedes teammate Nico Rosberg by six, the championship will be settled with three races remaining.

Beyond the title battle, though, COTA is embarking on its biggest weekend of the year with a bumper crowd expected across the three days of on-track action.

The presence of Alexander Rossi, the first American driver at the US GP for the first time since 2007, and excitement surrounding the arrival of Haas F1 Team in 2016 is sure to only gee up home interest in the US GP.

F1’s relationship with America has been turbulent throughout the 65-year history of the sport, but this weekend is set to be a new high point.

2015 United States Grand Prix – Talking Points

Lewis looks to wrap up the title

Lewis Hamilton’s third championship victory has been something of a formality for some time, but after seeing teammate Nico Rosberg retire in Russia and his lead over the pack swell to 66 points, the Briton will know that Austin is where it could be settled.

Hamilton knows that winning at COTA with Rosberg second and Sebastian Vettel third (the ‘norm’ in 2015) would be enough to clinch him a third world title. Doing so in Austin would be all the more important for Lewis, who has fostered a real affinity for the USA in recent years, and it would only aid the sport’s profile in America.

Rain? In Austin?

Those travelling to Austin for the US GP may have seen little need to pack a coat or umbrella heading into the weekend, given that it hasn’t rained in the city since August.

But naturally, when F1 rocks up in town, things change. The forecast for the entire weekend is rather miserable, with some predicting heavy rain across all three days of on-track action. It could set the stage for a classic race – something Austin has arguably lacked thus far – and really spice up the fight at the front.

Rossi flies the star-spangled banner at home

Alexander Rossi will realise a life-long dream this weekend in Austin when he becomes the first American driver since 2007 to race in the US GP, returning to his Manor seat after missing the Russian Grand Prix due to GP2 commitments.

As Rossi detailed in his latest NBC Sports blog, his schedule has been hectic in recent days due to the massive media focus on his appearance at COTA, proving just how far F1 has come in the USA.

Rossi may stand little chance of scoring points, but simply seeing an American driver lining up on the grid to start his home grand prix must go down as a momentous achievement.

The Mexico effect

COTA’s crowd figures in all of its past three US GP weekends have been highly impressive, but undoubtedly boosted by the presence of a large Mexican contingency that has made the trip across to cheer on home heroes Sergio Perez and Esteban Gutierrez.

However, with the Mexican Grand Prix returning to the calendar next weekend, it will be interesting to see what kind of impact this has on Austin’s crowd figures. The race in Mexico City does pose a threat to the US GP – that should not be understated – and the initial reaction and effect will be important to gauge.

Red Bull’s engine saga continues

Red Bull’s lack of an engine supplier continues to concern the F1 paddock, with the fear of losing two of the teams on the grid becoming more and more real.

The team has said before that it wanted a decision made by the US GP, so perhaps this weekend will bring some kind of news, be it Renault or Ferrari who is bailing the fallen champions out.

2015 United States Grand Prix – Facts and Figures

Track: Circuit of The Americas
Laps: 56
Corners: 20
Lap Record: Valtteri Bottas 1:40.896 (Williams, 2014)
Tire Compounds: Soft (Option); Medium (Prime)
2014 Winner: Lewis Hamilton (Mercedes)
2014 Pole Position: Nico Rosberg (Mercedes) 1:36.067
2014 Fastest Lap: Sebastian Vettel (Red Bull) 1:41.379
DRS Zone: Main Straight (T20 to T1); T11 to T12

2015 United States Grand Prix – TV Times

Free Practice 1: NBCSN 11am ET 10/23
Free Practice 2: NBCSN 3pm ET 10/23
Free Practice 3 and Qualifying: NBCSN 12:30pm ET 10/24
Race: NBC 2:30pm ET 10/25

Santino Ferrucci will drive No. 14 for AJ Foyt Racing full time in 2023 IndyCar season

Santino Ferrucci AJ Foyt
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Santino Ferrucci will return to full-time racing in the NTT IndyCar Series next season, joining AJ Foyt Racing.

Ferrucci had made eight IndyCar starts with three teams since his last full-time season in 2020 while also racing part time in the NASCAR Xfinity Series this year.

He will drive the storied No. 14 Dallara-Chevrolet for four-time Indy 500 winner A.J. Foyt’s team, which will field the car from its Waller, Texas headquarters.

“It’s incredibly exciting to be back in the INDYCAR Series full time,” Ferrucci said in a team release. “Being a part-time driver over the last two years has been hard for me, personally. I’m a race car driver, and I want to compete. Working with different teams has been exciting, and I’m proud that no matter which car I’ve raced, I’ve always shown speed and consistency. I couldn’t be more excited to join AJ Foyt Racing in the 14 Chevy. I can’t wait to make the best of it.”

Ferrucci, 24, had finished a career-best fourth in IndyCar four times, including the 104th Indy 500 in 2020. He was the 2019 Indy 500 rookie of the year with a sixth.

In nine Xfinity starts since 2021, Ferrucci has a career-best finish of 13th at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.

“I am thrilled to welcome Santino to the team,” Larry Foyt said in a release. “He’s shown a knack for getting toward the front of the field, and I think he is a racer who moves forward on race day. A.J. sees the fire in him and has enjoyed their meetings together. I think Santino’s experience will help his rookie teammate as well, so he is a great addition to our roster.”

Ferrucci will be teamed at AJ Foyt Racing with Benjamin Pedersen, who finished fifth in the 2022 Indy Lights standings. The team has yet to specify the number for Pedersen’s entry, which will be fielded out of its Indianapolis race shop.

Foyt’s two full-time drivers last season were Dalton Kellett and Kyle Kirkwood, who is moving to Andretti Autosport.