US Grand Prix: Decisive, weakened

The eyes of the motor racing world will be riveted on Texas this weekend as Formula One makes its return to the United States but it is unclear if Americans will be watching, even with a driver's championship on the line. The stage has been set for a Sunday of high-drama worthy of a Hollywood Western as clinical German Sebastian Vettel and Spaniard Fernando Alonso engage in their own version of the Gunfight at the OK Corral at the new $400 million Circuit of the Americas.

The penultimate race could well be decided in the unglamorous scrublands of south Texas, as Formula One tries again to establish a presence in the US following a five-year absence.

Vettel will have an opportunity to complete a hat-trick of titles at the US Grand Prix and join Juan Manuel Fangio and Michael Schumacher as the only drivers to win three titles in a row. "I think we were not always fast enough this year but for the last couple of races we were, so looking forward to the next two races," said Vettel.

The win may not be enough to clinch a championship. Vettel, who tops the standings with 255 points to Alonso's 245, must finish Sunday's race with 15 more points than his Spanish rival, which can be produced by many combinations of results. A sixth victory of the season would give Vettel the title if Alonso places outside the top four. Should Alonso fail to score a point, Vettel must still finish at least third.

NASCAR, football rules

They like big things in Texas and there is nothing bigger in motor racing than the crowning of a new F1 champion but for many Americans, Vettel and Alonso could just as easily be field goal kickers in the NFL. There is a good reason their names are not familiar. There has not been an F1 race in the US since 2007 at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway and there will be no Americans on the starting grid.

... contd.

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