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Ricciardo upbeat about Austin as Mercedes pair battle for title

Thu, Oct 20, 11:54am by Staff Writer

A one-week break and a sixth-place finish hasn’t diminished Daniel Ricciardo’s enthusiasm as Formula One heads to Austin Texas this week for the United States Grand Prix.

The Australian won his first race of the year at Malaysia to start the month, before a poor start and a clumsy pit stop kept him off the podium at Suzuka.

But with just four races left in the season, Ricciardo is relishing his return to one of his favourite tracks at the Circuit of the Americas.

Ricciardo is equal third favourite in Austin with Red Bull teammate Max Verstappen – who finished second in Japan – and Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel, behind the pacesetting Mercedes pair of Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg.

Points leader Rosberg and Hamilton are both paying $2.20 to win this weekend on the William Hill board, with plenty at stake for both of them as they vie for the Driver’s Championship.

Rosberg leads Hamilton in the standings 313 to 280, with Ricciardo on 212 and Ferrari’s Kimi Raikkonen on 170.

Ricciardo, Verstappen and Vettel are longer shots to take the chequered flag at $11 each, with Raikkonen at $26.

Ricciardo feels the Circuit of the Americas suits his style and is aiming for the podium Sunday.

“The track in Austin is sick, I love it,” Ricciardo told reporters last week. “It has a lot of unique features like the wide apex at turn one, you could fit about four cars side by side through there.

“There are loads of opportunities to overtake and have fun throughout the whole track. It has fast flowing sections and hairpins, pretty much everything I like in a track.”

William Hill likes Ricciardo’s chances of finishing in the top three, paying $2.20 for a podium finish with Verstappen. Rosberg and Hamilton are the short money at $1.29 each.

Vettel is paying $2.40 for the podium, with Raikkonen at $4.50.

Hamilton is facing an almost mist-win situation in Austin in his pursuit of a fourth world championship as he drifts further behind Rosberg in the standings.

Rosberg won his fourth of five races in Japan while Hamilton could only manage third.

“We’ve got four races left to make the most of it and that’s exactly what I plan to do,” Hamilton told reporters of his plan for the chase. “

It’s just about hitting every race weekend as hard as I can, going all out for every win and seeing what happens from there. I’ll be holding nothing back out there.”

Lewis will have fond memories of Austin after wrapping up the 2015 world championship there last year.

Rosberg, on the other hand, slipped off the wet Circuit of the Americas track while leading last year to lose his chance at the title.

The US GP was marred by wild and wet weather last year, but with fine and sunny conditions forecast for this weekend, the drivers are hopeful of an incident-free race.

The US GP gets underway at 6am Sunday AEDT.

Suggested Bet: Ricciardo to get a podium finish: $2.20

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