UNITED STATES GRAND PRIX
CIRCUIT OF THE AMERICAS - AUSTIN
United States GP: all you need to know
The USA GP has had a somewhat peripatetic history. 44 races have gone by the name of the US Grand Prix, hosted at Watkins Glen twenty times, Indianapolis 8, Circuit of the Americas 11, Phoenix 3, Riverside and Sebring with one apiece.
Apart from the USA GPs, there were also events in Dallas, Detroit, Las Vegas and Long Beach, from the 70s to the mid-80s. Even the Indianapolis 500 was part of the picture, counting for the F1 World Championship in its early years, but usually no European drivers took part and it dropped off the F1 calendar in 1961.
The return of Formula 1 to the United States
But let’s get up to date. After a five-year hiatus, Formula One made a much-anticipated return to the United States in 2012, with Austin’s Circuit of the Americas, known as COTA providing a new home for the event.
It’s seen a good mix of F1 tradition and the modern delights of the Texan capital city. Inspired by some of grand prix racing’s great venues, the 5.5km circuit features sections that take their cues from Silverstone’s Becketts-Maggots complex, Hockenheim’s stadium section and Istanbul’s long multi-apex Turn 8.
The signature stretch, however, might just be the run from the start-finish line up a steep incline to an almost blind hairpin. Praised by drivers and attended by massive crowds, COTA looks set to be a superb long-term home for F1 in the US.
As for Austin, it’s a really fun and interesting place, with iconic glimpses of Texas, be it a giant pick-up truck burbling at the lights, a bar with a mechanical bull, corals of horses kicking up the dust and chromed caravans selling the city’s famous street food and Texan barbeque and cars with giant bullhorns on the radiator grilles. Above all, Austin lives up to its reputation as the capital of live music and there are bands playing every night somewhere.
CIRCUIT OF THE AMERICAS
A bit of history
Did you know that the first Stars and Stripes race to count towards the Formula 1 World Championship was the 1950 Indianapolis 500? The legendary event on the oval featured on the calendar for the first decade of the championship, but the first race on American soil to be run to Formula 1 rules was held at Sebring in 1959, won by Bruce McLaren.
The idea for the current venue was first mooted by Tavo Hellmund, sketched on a napkin at a barbecue back in 2007. Track designer Hermann Tilke actually managed to incorporate many of those original ideas into this spectacular circuit, some of its corners taking their inspiration from those at historic venues such as Silverstone, Hockenheim and Istanbul.
Visible from miles around is a 77 metre panoramic viewing tower, which offers stunning 360 degree vistas of the Circuit of the Americas, the perfect spot to see all the action. Surrounding the tower is a 14,000 seater concert venue, the Austin 360 Amphitheatre, which puts on some great shows all year round and of course during race week.