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United States GP: Why F1 race at Circuit of the Americas has always delivered since first event in 2012

Since it returned to the F1 calendar in 2012, the US Grand Prix has produced some stunning racing and iconic moments; find out what this year's edition has in store with the event's first Sprint weekend - live on Sky Sports from this qualifying Friday to the race on Sunday

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Look back at some of the most dramatic moments to have taken place at the United States Grand Prix.

Formula 1 has been pushing hard to make a breakthrough in America over the last five years and they have arguably done it, given there are now three races in the United States on the calendar.

F1 went five years without a race in the USA after 2007 as the famous Indianapolis Motor Speedway decided not to renew its contract with the championship due to financial reasons.

Talk of street races in New York and New Jersey failed to come to fruition, but a new track in Austin was being built when all this was going on and F1 struck a deal to race at the Circuit of the Americas from 2012. It's fair to say, the United States Grand Prix has delivered every since.

Hamilton beats Vettel in straight fight

Most drivers struggled on the new Circuit of the Americas track in the inaugural race in 2012 but McLaren's Lewis Hamilton and Red Bull's Sebastian Vettel did not with just 0.109s splitting the pair in qualifying.

One hundred seventeen thousand, four hundred twenty-nine fans attended race day and were treated to a big duel as Vettel and Hamilton pulled away from the rest of the field following Mark Webber's early retirement.

The wide braking zones at Turns 11 and 12, plus the opportunity to take different racing lines in the final sector meant the cars could follow each other and deliver some great racing.

Lewis Hamilton won the inaugural F1 race at the Circuit of the Americas in 2012
Image: Lewis Hamilton won the inaugural F1 race at the Circuit of the Americas in 2012

Hamilton trailed Vettel all race but the backmarker of Narain Karthikeyan gave the British driver an opportunity to attack with 15 laps to go and he did so on the run down to Turn 12 and took the lead.

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It turned out to be Hamilton's last victory for McLaren and Vettel would win the United States GP a year later.

Hamilton vs Rosberg and the famous cap throw

The 2014-2016 era of Hamilton vs Nico Rosberg somewhat came to blows in Austin, even though it was the Briton who lead a one-two in each of the three races.

Hamilton took a 17-point lead into the 2014 race with only three events remaining, so Rosberg knew he had to beat his Mercedes team-mate.

Rosberg took pole position and held the lead after the first round of pit stops. However, in almost a repeat of the 2012 race, Hamilton came alive as the Grand Prix went on and made a big move down the inside at Turn 12 before the halfway mark of the race to snatch first place.

Lewis Hamilton won his third world title after a dramatic 2015 United States GP
Image: Hamilton won his third world title after a dramatic 2015 United States GP

Twelve months on and Hamilton sealed his third world title at the United States GP in a dramatic race. Starting in wet conditions, Hamilton aggressively edged Rosberg off the track at Turn 1 and both Mercedes drivers had to contend with the Red Bulls of Daniel Ricciardo and Daniil Kvyat as a four-way fight for the lead played out.

Everywhere you looked there was action and racing in drying conditions and Rosberg somehow emerged out in first place amid the chaos of pit stops and incidents with 30 laps to go.

It looked like Rosberg was going to take the win and keep the title race alive, but he went off the track momentarily at Turn 16 with eight laps remaining and handed Hamilton the lead. Rosberg blamed a "gust of wind" for the mistake and he showed his emotions in the cooldown room as his team-mate celebrated the championship.

Commonly known as "cap-gate", Hamilton threw the cap for second place at Rosberg, only for the latter to chuck it back as he sat low in his chair.

Verstappen's illegal last lap overtake and Raikkonen's last win

The 2016 US Grand Prix did not exactly provide too much entertainment as Hamilton took a dominant win from Rosberg, but the 2017 race had some great racing.

Vettel got the jump on Hamilton off the line but the Mercedes driver fought back to take the lead back into, yes you guessed it, Turn 12.

Ferrari nearly undercut Hamilton by pitting Vettel early, then elected to go for a two-stop race which saw the German charge back into second place, including an opportunistic overtake on Valtteri Bottas.

Further back, Max Verstappen came through the field from 16th with a mighty drive and thought he got onto the podium after taking third place from Kimi Raikkonen down the inside at Turn 17 on the last lap - not an area you normally see overtakes.

But, the stewards gave Verstappen a five-second time penalty so the Dutchman was not able to cap off a comeback drive with third.

Lewis Hamilton came out on top against Sebastian Vettel again at the 2017 United States GP
Image: Hamilton came out on top against Sebastian Vettel again at the 2017 United States GP

The 2018 US Grand Prix was a real nail biter. Yet again, the driver from second place, this time it was Kimi Raikkonen, led after Turn 1, as he went to the inside of Hamilton.

A Virtual Safety Car period saw Hamilton come into the pits and he got back to the gearbox of Raikkonen, but could not make an on-track overtake.

The pair were on different strategies and Verstappen also came into the picture in the battle for victory from 18th on the grid. Raikkonen had a long stint on the medium tyres to the end which left him vulnerable to Verstappen and Hamilton, who was third but with fresher tyres than the leading duo.

Hamilton tried to go around the outside of Verstappen through Turns 16 and 17 but went off the track, which allowed Raikkonen to keep both drivers at bay and take his final win in F1, as well as breaking the record for the longest amount of time between race wins at 113 Grand Prix.

Kimi Raikkonen's 21st and last F1 race win came at the 2018 United States GP
Image: Kimi Raikkonen's 21st and last F1 race win came at the 2018 United States GP

The 2019 race was not quite as exciting but strategy was key again with Bottas held off Hamilton and Verstappen. Two stops versus one stop is always a conundrum for the teams at the Circuit of the Americas.

Verstappen vs Hamilton twice

The Covid-19 pandemic meant F1 did not visit North America in 2020 but the 2021 US Grand Prix came at a time when just six points separated Verstappen and Hamilton with six races remaining in one of the most dramatic and controversial F1 title fights.

From second place on the grid, this is becoming a theme isn't it, Hamilton edged out Verstappen into Turn 1 to set up a proper driver's race.

Every single lap, every sector, every corner and every decision both drivers made had an effect on the race and the strategy teams were put to work too.

Verstappen pitted first after just 11 laps and undercut Hamilton comfortably. Red Bull pitted their driver first again for the second and final round of pit stops, so Hamilton had eight-lap fresher tyres and a deficit of nine second to make up.

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Max Verstappen managed to hold off Lewis Hamilton to take the chequered flag at the 2021 United States GP

He slowly but surely closed the gap as the pair were giving it everything and leaving nothing left on the table. Just one second was Verstappen's lead on the last lap and he just held on in another very intense race - one for the purists, with no Safety Cars and fine margins made the difference.

The rivals fought for the win again in 2022 although Verstappen had a far superior car. A rare slow pit stop put Verstappen eight seconds behind Hamilton with 20 laps to go and Charles Leclerc was in between the pair for good measure.

Verstappen and Leclerc went wheel to wheel several times on Lap 39, before the Red Bull driver prevailed at Turn 12 and began his chase of Hamilton.

With seven laps remaining, Verstappen dived down the inside at Turn 12 and completed his comeback after a mistake from his pit crew on a weekend Red Bull sealed the constructors' championship just 24 hours after the death of co-founder and owner Dietrich Mateschitz.

When to watch the US GP and F1 Academy finale live only on Sky Sports F1

Thursday October 19

  • 8pm: Drivers' Press Conference

Friday October 20

  • 2.15pm: F1 Academy Practice One
  • 6pm: US GP Practice One (Session starts 6.30pm)
  • 7.55pm: F1 Academy Practice Two
  • 9pm: US GP Qualifying build-up
  • 10pm: US GP Qualifying (also on Sky Sports Main Event)
  • 11.30pm: F1 Academy Qualifying
  • (Saturday) 12.30am: Ted's Qualifying Notebook

Saturday October 21

  • 3.30pm: F1 Academy Race One
  • 6pm: US GP Sprint Shootout build-up
  • 6:30pm: US GP Sprint Shootout
  • 9.15pm: F1 Academy Race Two
  • 10pm: US GP Sprint build-up
  • 11pm: US GP SPRINT (also on Sky Sports Main Event)
  • (Sunday) 12.30am: Ted's Sprint Notebook

Sunday October 22

  • 3.30pm: F1 Academy Race Three
  • 6.30pm: Grand Prix Sunday: US GP build-up
  • 8pm: THE UNITED STATES GRAND PRIX (also on Sky Sports Main Event)
  • 10pm: Chequered Flag: US GP reaction
  • 11pm: Ted's Notebook

Watch Formula 1 return to Texas for the United States Grand Prix and another Sprint weekend live on Sky Sports F1 from October 20-22. Stream F1 on Sky Sports with NOW

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