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Mika’s Tip

The 2023 Formula 1 World Champion Max Verstappen will be going for his 50th F1 career victory this weekend and, as we saw last year, he enjoys the COTA circuit and has a car which should enable him to deliver the win. Carlos Sainz qualified on pole position last year and, while I predict a Ferrari versus Mercedes battle for the podium finishes, McLaren’s fantastic form means that both Lando Norris or team mate Oscar Piastri could again produce a surprise.


Mika’s Memories

I won my penultimate race in Formula 1 in the 2001 US Grand Prix in Indianapolis, so I have good memories of racing in America. However, the sport has really taken off in this country and it’s incredible to think that this weekend’s race at the Circuit of the Americas is only the second of three races in the USA this year. We still have Las Vegas to look forward to in one month’s time.

This weekend will be the 75th Formula 1 race in the United States and, with long term contracts in place, Grand Prix racing in America is going to grow even further. What I like about COTA is the fact that the circuit promotes great racing and the fans are just so fantastic. It is also a permanent road circuit, specifically designed for Formula 1 with some parts of the track taking their design inspiration from Silverstone, Hockenheim and Istanbul Park’s famous Turn 8. So it’s very different from either the temporary Miami circuit or the pure street track in Las Vegas.

There are a number of different racing lines which you can take at several corners, for example at Turns 1, 11 and 15, and because the DRS-effect is also strong there is plenty of opportunity for overtaking. We saw a fantastic race here last year, a slow pit stop putting Max Verstappen behind Lewis Hamilton and Charles Leclerc, giving the World Champion a lot of work to do. It’s a racer’s circuit, and this weekend should be fantastic. Realistically five teams aiming for a podium finish!

Championship Form

This weekend we will see the fifth of six Sprint Race weekends, so there is a lot of pressure on teams and drivers to avoid any mistakes during Friday’s single practice session before qualifying. Driver error or a reliability issue can really have a big impact on your weekend. You really need to focus on getting everything right from the moment the car leaves the garage.

While I expect Max to continue his strong form at the front, the brilliant thing is to watch what will happen in the ongoing fight between Mercedes and Ferrari for second in the teams’ series. There are only 28 points separating them and, after Lewis Hamilton’s very rare mistake when he collided with team mate George Russell in Qatar, Mercedes will be pushing for a strong recovery. Particularly on a circuit where Ferrari qualified first and second last year, Carlos Sainz starting from pole but Charles Leclerc suffering a 10 place grid penalty.


Lewis loves America, he has won the US Grand Prix six times, five of them here at COTA, and he will be massively motivated to give the team a strong result on Saturday and Sunday. Mercedes is bringing another floor upgrade to this race, part of its development process for 2024, and I expect Lewis and George to be right up there all weekend.

Carlos is the only driver other than Max to have won a Grand Prix this year and, after the disaster last season when he started this race from pole position and was then knocked into a spin by George at Turn 1, he will be aiming for a repeat in qualifying – and the race if Max hits trouble. Charles is also hungry for a result, and with Ferrari still pushing for second place in the World Championship their battle with Mercedes is really tight.

The other guys to look out for are Lando and Oscar at McLaren, particularly after such a strong weekend in Qatar when the team also scored a new pit stop world record of 1.80s. An incredible piece of team work. Fernando Alonso is only 11 points behind Lewis in the fight for 3rd place in the World Championship for Drivers, and he remains hungry for a strong result.

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