The United States Grand prix – an American-style challenge

The United States Grand prix – an American-style challenge


The story linking Formula 1 and the United States is a long and complex one. A story which, for several years, in two eras and at different tracks, crossed paths with that of Indianapolis. The 500 Miles was part of the F1 world championship from the 50s to the 60s. There was also a backdrop of street circuits such as Las Vegas, Dallas, Detroit, Long Beach and Phoenix and permanent tracks at Riverside, Sebring, Watkins Glen, Indy again. Finally, the United States Grand prix landed at the Circuit of the Americas.

Austin is a lively buzzing city, which is strong on music festivals. Its 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. The track layout is 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. Its stand out element, apart from the vertiginous viewing tower, is the very steep climb after the start, which leads to a hook-shaped left-hander, designed specifically to offer various lines and encourage overtaking.

Then comes a series of esses, reminiscent of Silverstone and Suzuka, another hairpin, a straight, and a twisty street-style section, which flows into a multi-radius corner in the style of the unforgettable Istanbul Park. Two tricky right angle corners complete the lap. Given the low tyre wear, the softest tyres in the range will be used here, namely, Soft, Supersoft and Ultrasoft.

Force India’s Chief Race Engineer, Tom McCullough, looks ahead to the race at the Circuit of the Americas

“The Circuit of the Americas is one of the few anti-clockwise circuits and is a real test for the car. With its mix of low, medium and high-speed corners, finding the perfect set-up is a challenge. There is a significant gradient in several parts of the circuit and especially in the steep uphill run-up to the braking zone in turn one. The first sector winds through multiple changes of direction at high speed, in a way that is reminiscent of Suzuka’s first sector. It’s a part of the track the drivers love and it will be particularly interesting to see this year’s cars on it. With each passing year, the track has become more of a challenge when it comes to ride. So it will be interesting to see how bumpy the track surface is going to be this year.”