Formula One

 
                === Formula One returns to the United States ===
 
 Philadelphia,  PA (Sports Network) - For the first time in five years, Formula
 One will compete on American soil.
 
 The  new Circuit of the Americas -- a 3.4-mile, 20-turn road course located 15
 miles southeast of downtown Austin, Texas -- will host the United States Grand
 Prix  for the first time. Sunday's 56-lap USGP is the penultimate round in the
 20-race season. F1 will run its season-finale on Nov. 25 in Brazil.
 
 Fernando  Alonso's second-place finish coupled with a third-place run for two-
 time  defending world  champion Sebastian Vettel in the Nov. 4 Abu Dhabi Grand
 Prix allowed Alonso to trim Vettel's points lead from 13 to 10.
 
 "We  just need  to concentrate  on our  race,  and if  we finish  in front  of
 Sebastian in the next two races, then maybe we have a chance," Alonso said.
 
 Vettel  from  Red Bull  and Ferrari's  Alonso are the  only drivers who remain
 eligible for the championship. Kimi Raikkonen from Lotus won the Abu Dhabi GP,
 but  Raikkonen  has been mathematically eliminated  from the title race, as he
 trails  Vettel  by 57 points.  The maximum amount of  points a driver can earn
 over the next two rounds is 50. The race winner is awarded 25 points.
 
 Teams  will be faced  with a lot of unknowns at COTA. No active driver has yet
 to  make any laps  around the course. Former F1 driver David Coulthard drove a
 Red  Bull Racing showcar there when circuit construction had just begun. Lotus
 test driver Jerome d'Ambrosio piloted a 2010 Renault R30 on opening day at the
 track.  Teams  only have  simulator  data  to  help  them with  their  weekend
 preparations at this course.
 
 "We're  in the best possible position, so I think we're looking forward to the
 next race, a new grand prix and a new challenge," Vettel said. "It's difficult
 to know who is going to be quick."
 
 Vettel  is scheduled to  make his 100th career F1 grand prix start. The German
 made  his  F1 debut  in the  2007 USGP,  which was  held on Indianapolis Motor
 Speedway's  road course.  Substituting for  the injured  Robert Kubica  at BMW
 Sauber,  Vettel  finished eighth at Indy  to become the sport's youngest point
 scorer. He was 19 years old at the time.
 
 "I  think it's great that we are traveling to the United States again," Vettel
 said.  "I have  been in the simulator  learning the Austin track, how it flows
 and getting a general feel for it."
 
 Nine  U.S. venues  have previously hosted a F1 grand prix: Sebring, Riverside,
 Watkins Glen, Phoenix, Dallas, Detroit, Las Vegas, Long Beach and Indy.
 
 Lewis  Hamilton  is the last winner  of the USGP,  doing so in '07. Racing for
 McLaren  in his  rookie season, Hamilton scored pole position and won at Indy.
 It  came  one week after he  recorded his maiden  F1 win in the Canadian Grand
 Prix in Montreal.
 
 "It's  crazy  to think that  the last United States  Grand Prix was five years
 ago,"  Hamilton said. "It's a race I still remember like yesterday, though the
 nervy  anticipation as  I drove into the [Indianapolis Motor] Speedway for the
 very  first time, the thousands of supportive fans and the fantastic car I had
 beneath  me that enabled  me to take my second grand prix victory in the space
 of a week. For me, those were incredible, thrilling times."
 
 Made  up of 11  left and nine right turns, COTA is one of just five current F1
 circuits to run anti-clockwise. Singapore, Korea, Abu Dhabi and Brazil are the
 others.
 
 COTA's  track surface  took four months to  lay, and the third and final layer
 was  completed in  late-September. The last layer is made up of aggregate from
 all over Texas. All told, over 640,000 cubic meters of material have been used
 to construct the track.
 
 "I  think  the Circuit of The  Americas looks like  it could also be the place
 that modern Formula One finally calls home," Hamilton noted. "I've only driven
 it  on  the computer and  in the (simulator),  but I think  it's going to be a
 track  that drivers  enjoy, which produces some great, close racing, and which
 fans will quickly love.
 
 "This  is a new circuit, a new challenge and a new opportunity. I'm definitely
 looking to be the first grand prix winner at the Circuit of The Americas."
 
 The  first  two practice sessions  for the USGP  are scheduled for Friday. The
 third and final practice will take place on Saturday, prior to qualifying.
 
 Series: Formula One. Date: Sunday, Nov. 18. Race: United States Grand Prix.
 Site: Circuit of the Americas. Track: 3.4-mile (5.470-kilometer), 20-turn road
 course. Start Time: 2 a.m. (et). Laps: 56. Miles: 191.939 (308.896 km).
 Television: Speed.
 
 
 11/14 23:34:44 ET

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