The United States F1 Grand Prix takes place each year at the Circuit of the Americas race track located in Austin, Texas.
The USA has a rich history of motor racing and first became involved with Formula One in 1959 at the Sebring International Raceway, with the race won by New Zealander Bruce McLaren who would go on to create the McLaren Racing Team.
The United States Grand Prix has been absent from the calendar at various times and has also had a number of host tracks including Watkins Glen and Indianapolis. Since 2012 the race has been held in Austin, with the circuit constructed in 2010 to bring F1 back to the USA after a three year hiatus.
British racers have had much success in the United States F1 Grand Prix. Lewis Hamilton holds the record for most victories with five. Graham Hill and Jim Clark both have three wins, Jackie Stewart and James Hunt have two wins each and Sir Stirling Moss and Innes Ireland both have single wins.
Circuit of the Americas Map
United States Grand Prix Recent Winners
|2013||Sebastian Vettel||Red Bull||1:39:17.148||6.284|
|2008 - 2011||No races||-||-||-|
|2007 (Indianapolis)||Lewis Hamilton||McLaren||1:31:09.965||1.518|
|2006 (Indianapolis)||Michael Schumacher||Ferrari||1:34:35.199||7.984|
|2005 (Indianapolis)||Michael Schumacher||Ferrari||1:29:43.181||1.522|
|2004 (Indianapolis)||Michael Schumacher||Ferrari||1:40:29.914||2.950|
|2003 (Indianapolis)||Michael Schumacher||Ferrari||1:33:35.997||18.258|
|2002 (Indianapolis)||Rubens Barrichello||Ferrari||1:31:07.934||0.011|
|2001 (Indianapolis)||Mika Hakkinen||McLaren||1:32:42.840||11.046|
|2000 (Indianapolis)||Michael Schumacher||Ferrari||1:36:30.883||12.118|
About the USA Grand Prix
There few grander stages in the F1 calendar than that of the United States Grand Prix. It’s one of the biggest and one of the loudest, and this is mainly because of its base being in Austin, Texas, where everything is bigger!
The track was brought in to replace that of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, which has held the Grand Prix up until 2007. When funding stopped, the US was without a Grand Prix, but when plans were set a foot in 2010 to create a new track that was designed with F1 racing at the forefront, the Circuit of Americas was born and with it a new home for F1 in the US from 2012 onwards.
The track is made up of 20 turns in total and comes in at 5.513km, making it a mid-size race track. One of the most interesting facts about the track is that it’s one of only 5 that are run anti-clockwise, which means that there is a much greater pressure that is applied to the driver and their necks. Given that the drivers are sued to right handers more than left handers, it means that it provides great strain, so it’s a physically demanding circuit to drive on for both the cars and the drivers.
Even though the race kicks off with a long straight and fast flowing bends, the average speed of 195km/hr means that it’s just under the season average on the F1 calendar at the minute. The track comes with a lot of elevation changes, and this coupled with very small breaking zones means that there are plenty of overtaking opportunities, given that the margin for error with drivers so little.
Drivers start along the long straight and work down to the lowest part of the track before working their way up a steep elevation change to the first corner. Turn 1 is a tight left hander and one of the most interesting parts of the track as the race starts, often with drivers having to tip toe around to keep out of too much trouble. The corner is actually blind when they get there, so they need to use reference points to know when to break.
The track drops downhill dramatically from there into the series of S turns and this is where the drivers are really feeling how their car works, with the downforce planting the driver into the car and almost having the sensation that it’s trying to throw them out of the car.
Turn 11 is a tight harpin, but one of the best places to overtake on the track. The turn is very wide at the apex which allows plenty of room for overtaking. But, the DRS straight follows directly after this turn, so it’s sometimes tough to get those overtakes to stick. Many drivers actually wait through 11 and then pull off their overtake down the DRS to make it really clean.
Turn 12 and 13 work from a left to right hander. What you won’t see on TV is that these corners are both heavily banked, so the car almost instinctively follows them around, although traction can sometimes be an issue if drivers get on the throttle too soon when they exit.
Turn 15 is one of the hardest turns on the circuit and it’s another tight hairpin. The drivers will be fighting with making sure that they are able to get traction both on the approach to the corner and then exiting the corner, as well. They will have to wait until the car is fully round the bend before then being able to apply max throttle.
Turn 17, 18 and 19 and three right handers that run simultaneously. The drivers tend to really enjoy this as they are all flat out. But it’s imperative that they hit the apex on 17 as if they miss it it’s going to be almost impossible to save it through 18 and 19 as a result. This can be a good overtaking spot if drivers have got a good drive out of 15 and then set up around here flat out.
The final corner is a tight left and it’s another that the apex is very hard to pick because of the track rising and dropping so quickly. A good run is imperative though, as this will take them back down the home straight and through the final DRS zone. It’s then a straight sprint down the hill, before coming sharply back up the hill and back into turn 1.
The track is without doubt a favourite with most of the drivers. It’s got everything from fast straights, tight corners, accessible DRS zones and plenty of overtaking opportunities. Since it’s introduction in 2012, the site is now firmly one of the most anticipated races for both drivers and fans.
The US Grand Prix had been without a home since Indianapolis were unable to get the financial backing needed for the race following the 2007 US Grand Prix. It wasn’t until 2010 that plans were finally laid out to get an all-purpose racetrack built, primarily for F1, but also for a host of other motor racing events, as well.
Construction started in December 2010 and it was announced that Texas Billionaire, Red McCombs, was the largest investor for the 890-acre site in Travis County, Texas. McCombs has a history of motor cars, with their fortune being built around McCombs Automotive Group and the group also were owners of the San Antonio Spurs and the Denver Nuggets at one point.
The site had originally been earmarked as a residential area, but that was soon put on the back burner when ideas about the F1 track started to come to fruition. Initially McCombs wanted to call the site “Speed City”, but naming rights were later sold to advertisers for a fee of $7 million.
DESIGNING THE TRACK
The designers behind the track were that of Tilke Engineers and Architects. They’ve a long running history of work within new F1 tracks, including designing tracks in Sepang, Bahrain, Shanghai, Istanbul, Valencia, Yas Marina and Korea, to name just a few.
Work started in 2010 and it was reported that it would take 2 years to build. But, in 2011 they received a stop-work order as the site had been built unknowingly on a floodplain. Eventually the things that needed to be ticked off the list were and the 2012 deadline was back on track, albeit a couple of months later than originally planned.
FIRST GRAND PRIX AT NEWLY BUILT TRACK
Charlie Whiting, the then FIA-appointed Race Director for Formula 1, visited the track June 2012. He pre-approved the track to go ahead with the US Grand Prix that was pencilled in for September that year. Whiting later re-visited the track just 6 days before the US Grand Prix and was satisfied with the work that had been done, before approving the track to host the race. A crowd of over 117,000 people attended the first Formula 1 race, with attendances remaining steady ever since.