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Hamilton hoping for a Texan twist in F1 title duel

Oct 20 (Reuters) – Lewis Hamilton and Max Verstappen have traded the Formula One championship lead 4 instances in six races and Sunday’s U.S. Grand Prix in Austin may present yet one more twist in the story.

Red Bull’s Verstappen leads Hamilton by six factors after 16 of twenty-two races however the Circuit of the Americas holds happier recollections for Mercedes’ seven instances world champion.

There was no race final 12 months because of the COVID-19 pandemic however Hamilton clinched his sixth title in Texas in 2019 after celebrating his third there in 2015.

No driver has been extra profitable than the Briton in Austin, with Hamilton having fun with 5 wins from eight begins.

Every winner has additionally began on the entrance row and Mercedes have taken pole place in the final six.

“Austin has been a Hamilton stronghold for quite a few years now,” noticed Red Bull crew boss Christian Horner after Verstappen took again the lead from Hamilton in Turkey.

Valtteri Bottas received in Istanbul for Mercedes and was additionally the final winner in Austin, from pole, however the Finn can be anticipated to cede to Hamilton if circumstances demand it in Austin.

“This season has had so many twists and turns, so we’re ready to react to whatever comes our way this weekend in Texas,” mentioned Mercedes boss Toto Wolff, whose crew are 36 factors away from Red Bull in the constructors’ standings.

Verstappen has received seven races to Hamilton’s 5 this season and has additionally led many extra laps than his 36-year-old rival.

While Austin ought to play extra to the strengths of the Mercedes, with a number of lengthy straights, there are additionally sharp, low-speed corners and good overtaking potentialities to encourage Red Bull.

There can also be all the time a first time and Verstappen is able to seize his likelihood.

“We have always been competitive in the United States and have got close to some good results,” mentioned the Dutch teenager. “So it’s about converting that into a win now.

“We go to each monitor now figuring out that we will battle not less than for a podium now, but in addition a win and that’s completely different to previous years.

“We are focused on doing the best we can and always trying to win the race, and that will be no different in Austin. It will be another close battle this weekend and I am looking forward to that.”

Verstappen’s report in America can also be robust, with second place in 2018, third in 2019 and fourth in 2015 and 2017.

The battle for third place in the constructors’ standings stays crimson sizzling, with McLaren 7.5 factors forward of Ferrari and each hopeful.

Australian Daniel Ricciardo can be significantly wanting ahead to Texas and receiving a reward from McLaren boss Zak Brown for profitable the Italian Grand Prix.

Ricciardo can be taking the late Dale Earnhardt Sr’s 1984 NASCAR Wrangler Chevrolet Monte Carlo for a spin across the circuit.

“He’s a big hero of mine, so to be able to drive one of his cars is going to be a surreal moment and a bit of a dream come true. A big thanks to Zak for keeping his end of the deal and making this happen.”

Reporting by Alan Baldwin, enhancing by Toby Davis

Formula One F1 - Italian Grand Prix - Autodromo Nazionale Monza, Monza, Italy - September 12, 2021 Mercedes' Lewis Hamilton after crashing out of the race with Red Bull's Max Verstappen REUTERS/Jennifer Lorenzini

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