By Lee Dover
It is fitting then that the Circuit of the Americas is to be the venue for the epic showdown between Sebastian Vettel – who can claim his third consecutive Formula One (F1) world championship this weekend – and Fernando Alonso. Expect an explosive clash in Texas.
The Austin-based race is the first time that the US will have hosted a Grand Prix since Lewis Hamilton edged to victory over Alonso in Indianapolis back in 2007.
Since then Vettel has battled his way to the top of the food chain – leaving the others biting the superior Red Bull car’s dust.
While Texas may be known as the Lone Star State, the double world champion is not going into battle alone. Mark Webber is providing his Red Bull teammate with a helping hand in an attempt to sew up the world title race early.
The Australian told his home country’s newspaper The Age:
Clearly, Austin’s a very important weekend because Brazil can throw up some ‘funnies’. There can be a bit of rain around there, so that’s a bit more of a nervous venue. I’m not saying it can’t rain at Austin, but Brazil can be incredibly inconsistent with the weather, so that might come into the mix.
With the Red Bull duo working in tandem, Paddy Power’ make Vettel a short-price favourite.
But the odds on a Webber victory is interesting too as the Australian’s plan B will be to keep Alonso off the top step of the winner’s podium.
The Spaniard is not willing to give in just yet. Instead the Ferrari driver is planning to unleash the fire in his belly at the F1 track this weekend to rein in Vettel’s 10-point lead at the top of the drivers’ rankings.
After his second-place finish in the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, Alonso stated:
We have two important races. We will try to finish in front of Sebastian. We know that maybe with pure pace we cannot do it; we need to use other points.
Alonso was 5/1 to win in the States with Paddy Power and 3/1 to clinch the F1 2012 drivers’ championship – but those odds will tumble if he takes the chequered flag in Texas.
Britain’s Lewis Hamilton also fancies his chances.
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.
Spare a thought for Kimi Raikkonen as well. The Lotus driver finally secured his first win in Abu Dhabi two weeks ago since his return to F1 at the start of the year. He is a huge 16/1 to make it two-for-two in Texas at the weekend.