F1 Power Rankings: United States Grand Prix

There are three races left in the season and a maximum of 100 points left on the board for Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg. The pair are separated by only 17 points but Nico needs to sweep the final three races and get some luck if the pair 1-2 every race. A non-top-two finish completely screws up those permutations but a non-top-two finish would almost certainly end Nico’s chances.

There’s a lot of pressure heading into this weekend’s race if you’re running for the championship.

#1 Lewis Hamilton
Is it just me or does Lewis come really close to trolling Nico here? “Crossing the line on Sunday in Sochi was a really amazing moment. To win the very first Formula 1 Russian Grand Prix and help the team achieve the first Constructors’ Championship for Mercedes-Benz with a one-two finish – it couldn’t have got much better. When I went to the factories in Brackley and Brixworth the week afterwards, the atmosphere was just awesome. Everybody has worked so hard to achieve this title and they all deserve to savour the moment.”

#2 Nico Rosberg
On the other hand, Keke’s kid wants the WDC: “We target a big finish to the season in the final three races. It’s still all to play for in the battle for the Drivers’ Championship and I won’t be giving up the fight until the flag drops in Abu Dhabi. Hopefully we can keep the entertainment going right to the end for the fans out there enjoying the contest. The first step comes in Austin, which is a really cool city and a great race track. I haven’t had the best races there so far, but I’m determined to change that this year.”

#3 Daniel Ricciardo

#4 Valtteri Bottas

#BO77AS reminds us that he scored his first points in Austin last year. He and this team have come a long way in twelve months: “Austin is a really cool track, one of the best on the calendar. The city is nice, the fans and atmosphere are great, so it’s one of the best places of the season to go to. I have good memories from there as I got my first points in Formula 1 in Austin last season. We are definitely targeting to be on the podium again and extend the advantage we have on Ferrari in the Constructors’ points.”

#5 Fernando Alonso

#6 Sebastian Vettel

#7 Jenson Button
JB gets his highest spot on the Power Rankings this year. So let’s reward him by running a terrible quote: “Although this is only our third grand prix in Austin, it feels like we’ve been going there a lot longer. It’s testament to the fans, who are fantastic and always provide a great welcome, and it’s already a very popular track amongst the drivers.”

#8 Felipe Massa
Old Phil is slightly wrong. Sector 1 of COTA is based on Silverstone, not Suzuka: “The track in Austin is great as there is a real mix of high and low speed corners with some very technical areas. Sector one is very quick, similar to Suzuka, with a long straight which gives us the chance for overtaking. It’s a fun track to drive and one where we can have a good result.”

#9 Kimi Raikkonen

#10 Sergio Perez
Checo talks about his run of success since the summer break: “I arrive in Austin feeling positive. I’ve scored points in every race since the summer break – five races in a row – and I think we’ve maximised what we could get out of those races. We’ve been racing hard, taking some chances, and making some excellent decisions with the strategy so hopefully we can continue to do so in the next few races.”

#11 Kevin Magnussen
HE GETS IT! MAGNUSSEN GETS WHAT COTA WAS DOING WITH SECTOR 1! “Although this will be my first time driving on the track here in Austin, I’ve driven it in the simulator and many of the corners have similarities to corners on other great circuits. Turns Three, Four and Five are very like the fast Maggotts-Becketts section at Silverstone, for example, which I know well, so I’m really looking forward to getting out on track in the car.”

#12 Nico Hulkenberg
Unlike Checo, The Hulk’s season has gone south since the summer: “I remember that as soon as I drove in Austin my first thought was that it was an amazing circuit. It’s fun to drive, with lots of different kinds of corners, and it’s one of the best tracks from the new generation of circuits. It’s very easy to find a rhythm and the tarmac is very smooth, which makes it very nice to drive.”

#13 Jean-Eric Vergne
JEV comes off slightly bitter about his pending unemployment in his pre-race quotes: “I’m not sure how our car will perform there, but hopefully we will have a good pace and enjoy a successful weekend. I know the first corner is visually impressive when you look up at it from the pits, but in the car it doesn’t feel particularly special. To be competitive here you need all the usual things, good aero downforce and a powerful engine as there is a long straight. There are no special secrets to doing well at this track.”

#14 Daniil Kvyat
Daniil is going to make you all feel old this weekend: “I have very good memories of Austin last year. It was a very exciting time for me and now it’s hard to believe that already one year has gone by since that weekend in America. I feel like a veteran now! It’s a special place for me because that’s where I first was part of a Formula One Grand Prix weekend, even if it was only driving the Friday morning session.”

#15 Esteban Gutierrez
Will extra motivation from his home-ish race power Steve to the points? Probably not but it’ll be fund to watch him try: “I am looking forward to the United States Grand Prix; it is a great feeling coming to Austin. For me it is a special Grand Prix, because we will have a lot of support from Mexico, as it is currently the race which is closest to my home country. I am looking forward to having great support from our fans there, which gives me extra motivation.”

#16 Romain Grosjean
The Lotus E22 will be getting a new nose this weekend: ” The E22’s nose is pretty distinct so it will be unusual seeing it with something different on the front. This is part of the team’s evaluations for 2015, and the nose is designed to gather information for next year. I’m looking forward to seeing what it looks like, but my main focus is the race weekend.”

#17 Adrian Sutil
Another Suzuka comparison. Did they actually drop Silverstone for Donington Park and I miss it? “It is a very interesting track that offers a bit of everything. After the first slow corner, the track has a sequence of left-right combinations which remind me of the ‘Esses’ in Suzuka. It is a lot of fun driving there. Obviously, a high amount of downforce, as well as engine power, is needed to be fast there.”

#18 Pastor Maldonado
Maldonado talks about RVs in his pre-race quotes. I wonder if he could crash a stationary vehicle: “The atmosphere at the circuit is really special, even for the first time we visited. It’s great to see the RVs at the side of the track and people staying at the circuit to enjoy the full weekend. The circuit can be a difficult one for tyres and we had some unusual delays and interruptions on the Friday last year so it will be interesting to see what happens this time. Certainly, there can be a variety with the weather and in the past we’ve seen it be quite cold at the start of the day.”

NR Kamui Kobayashi, Max Chilton, Marcus Ericsson and Alex Rossi
I’ll cover it in more detail during the race and news recap but Caterham’s situation from before the Russian Grand Prix hasn’t improved and they remain closed and in administration (the UK form of bankruptcy protection as near as I can tell). They’re currently caught in the middle of a legal spat between the former owners of Caterham who claim to not have been paid for the team and the new owners who claim not to have received shares from the purchase of the team. Fun times.

Meanwhile, Marussia has also announced that they have gone into administration and won’t be in America or Brazil. They still sit in 9th in the World Constructors’ Championship and are allowed to miss either two or three races in a season without penalty. If they can stay eligible for prize money, 9th place is worth a reported £40 million or about two-thirds of the team’s likely minimum operating budget. They can stay alive if they get that prize money which also shows how broken the economics of Formula One can be.

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