F1: Who will fly the flag for F1 in the USGP?

F1 racing is back in the USA this weekend and the driver line-up is completely unchanged from what we saw in the grand prix in Germany a fortnight ago.

That means Mercedes will be feeling the pressure – as Sebastian Vettel suggested – as they are now six points adrift of championship leader Lewis Hamilton with 10 races remaining.

The last time we saw this team battle for supremacy on a race-by-race basis was in 2014, the first year of what was then known as the Strategy group and the introduction of the 2018 engine regulations.

The 2015 season was billed as one of the most exciting we’ve seen, with seven teams contesting points during the first five races.

So who will be flying the flag for the sport in the Americas this year?

Lotus have had arguably the most eventful season in F1 so far and its staff won’t be too bothered if things don’t go smoothly.

They haven’t qualified inside the top 10 or scored points for only the fourth time this season.

But if the team can finally get its cars to work consistently then they could be a dark horse at the US Grand Prix.

The draw in the USGP pits Toro Rosso up against Ferrari in the 2-3 grid places

Toro Rosso team boss Franz Tost has said that points would only be the priority for his team in the USGP – after the Japanese GP and Istanbul, everyone thought the pre-season speculation over the team going for race victories in a format other than an F1 car was pure baloney.

The “t-shaped” track of Watkins Glen is largely straight, meaning that team-mate Pierre Gasly could be in contention for his first podium finish if he can edge ahead of Charles Leclerc – not that the young Frenchman would stand a chance of winning either.

Toro Rosso have not won in the USA since Mark Webber won his last of four races for Red Bull there in 2008. It would be nice to keep the USGP title drought alive for another year.

Button to go one race longer?

Sorry to see his return to F1 through a non-competition test more than a decade ago as the reason Jenson Button’s first start as a World Champion in 2009 didn’t pan out.

In a YouTube video from the last time Button returned to F1, before the Brazilian Grand Prix in 2014, he says the USGP is a “special race”.

Button has been testing with Williams in recent weeks and a decision on whether or not to take part in next week’s race at the US GP will be made on Friday evening.

Could Button be sticking around for one more grand prix this season after all?

He knows he doesn’t get to F1 races as often as he would like but even Button reckons he’s too old to race on Sundays.

Unsurprisingly, the Brit was delighted with the whole experience of spending the second half of the programme in a car this year.

Jenson Button in testing for Williams.

“It was an amazing experience for me, I hadn’t really been driving much for quite a long time,” he said.

“I’m so happy to have a test drive at the US Grand Prix. It’s been a while, I didn’t expect it but I’m really happy, it’s been great.”

Formula 2

Jamie Whincup, Scot, 34; Scott McLaughlin, Dane, 28; Paul di Resta, Scot, 31; Bornio Belloni, Italian, 31; Theo Ducalco, Italian, 24; Scott Redding, Brit, 25; Junior Hulkenberg, German, 28. (Formula 2 stats)

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