Formula 1’s annual visit to Circuit of The Americas is here, and if the planets align, a new world champion could be crowned deep in the heart of Texas.
With a significant point lead in hand, a win for Lewis Hamilton on Sunday at the United States Grand Prix and a poor result for his main rival Sebastian Vettel would seal the title with three races left to run.
In a sweeping podcast that spans the season leading up the COTA event, NBCSN Formula 1 pit reporter Will Buxton previews the Austin race and shares his take on the upcoming move for F1 from NBCSN to ESPN.
“I think as of right now, it could very well be the coronation of Hamilton and Mercedes; it could be the weekend where they wrap everything up,” he said. “And they deserve it, because Mercedes and Lewis didn’t have the best car this year; that was Ferrari.”
Ferrari and Vettel, Buxton’s pre-season favorites, have authored an epic collapse since returning from the summer break.
“This was the year when Ferrari should have taken it. It was ultimately their title to lose, and it looks like they have,” he continued. “[It’s] a combination of silly mistakes making the difference. It’s the little the little things that crept in. There are four races left and Ferrari haven’t had an engine that latest four races, so there’s still a chance for it to come unstuck for them again.”
Buxton is confident Haas F1 drivers Romain Grosjean and Kevin Magnussen will deserve the cheers coming from COTA’s dedicating a viewing area—dubbed “Haas Hill”—as fans gather and support the home team’s hunt for points.
“With the top six pretty much bolted up at every race, to see Haas scoring double points finishes on a number of occasions this year is a great result for them,” he said. “I think it just shows how intense the battle’s been for the midfield this year.”
COTA will also serve as the final time Buxton and his NBCSN colleagues Leigh Diffey, David Hobbs, and Steve Matchett come together at the USGP as the host broadcasters.
“It’s the nature of the beast,” he conceded. “Every four or five years, the major broadcast contracts sometimes change. We don’t take it as being anything personal; we know that it’s just business. We’ve got four races left, four races to absolutely smash it out of the park.”
Get Buxton’s full take on the F1 grid entering COTA, his search for new employment, details on Thursday’s “Buxton Bash” charity event in Austin, and the new racing book he’s working on to publish in 2018 in Episode 195 of The Marshall Pruett Podcast below: