Formula 1 returned to the United States in 2012, at a brand new venue, the Circuit of the Americas, a spectacular facility with a 5.513 km track, whose corners recall various classics from around the world.
Austin is a lively buzzing city, which is strong on music festivals. It’s motto is “Keep Austin Weird” which has grown into a whole ethos, while there’s a statue of a lady by the name of Angelina Eberly, who saved the city archives from being stolen by firing a cannon to wake up the townspeople. The track is set in the Texan plain surrounded by farms and Tex-Mex restaurants. It was opened in 2012, with the track layout built like a puzzle, featuring some of the most interesting corners from other championship tracks and surprisingly, it works. It runs anti-clockwise, like many of the newer venues and also like plenty of old American street circuits.
The vertiginous climb to the first corner reminds one of the old Austrian circuit, then there’s a section of flowing turns that resembles Suzuka, and it reprises the script of many of the new breed of circuit with its hard braking points at the end of long straights. It’s a popular venue with the drivers, partly because it requires a compromise to get a car that is good in the corners but also competitive down the straights.
The first sector
After the vertiginous climb up to turn 1, there’s a wonderful and definitely demanding section from turns three to six, which needs to be tackled with precision to get a good lap time.
The second sector is the one with the overtaking opportunities, making the most of the long straight and the DRS, that can help all the way to the right angle turn 12. It’s vital therefore to get a good exit out of the hairpin.
Scuderia Ferrari is the most successful constructor, with 9 US Grand Prix wins (1975, 1978, 1979, 2000, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006). However, the Maranello team has not won at the Circuit of the Americas. Sebastian Vettel took third place in 2015 and finished second last year, which remains Ferrari’s best result in Austin. Kimi Raikkonen also scored a podium finish at the 2018 United States Grand Prix, while Ferrari’s first podium at the Circuit of the Americas was back in 2012, as Fernando Alonso finished third.
Between 2002 and 2006, Scuderia Ferrari won the United States GP each year, with five consecutive victories which the Maranello team will hope not to be equaled by Mercedes, who took first place in each of the last four races at the Circuit of the Americas.