American Grand Prix – Preview

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Formula One is approaching its closing stages when it is preparing itself for the American GP weekend. The following race will be the first station of the trio of consecutive races on the American continent before the Moving Circus closes the history book of the 2017 Championship season in Abu Dhabi.

In 2010, the announcement that the American Grand Prix rejoins the F1 calendar came by surprise. Instead of traditional and historic race tracks such as Indianapolis or a rumoured street race in the city of New York, Austin secured the rights to hold a race.

The layout was conceived by German architect and circuit designer Hermann Tilke, who has also designed the Sepang, Shanghai, Yas Marina, Istanbul, Bahrain, Yeongam, and Buddh circuits, as well as the reprofiling of the Hockenheimring and Fuji Speedway.

The project triggered many political problems to resolve, even the public access roads had to be upgraded to handle the volume of incoming traffic during race weekends.
On June 13, 2012, FIA’s Race Director Charlie Whiting declared himself satisfied with the circuit's construction, he then scheduled a final pre-race inspection of the circuit for September 25, sixty days before the first race.

The first layer of asphalt was completed on August 3, 2012.[24] Construction began laying the final layer of asphalt on August 14,[25] and was finished on September 21.[26] The track was officially opened on October 21, 1978 world champion Marion Andretti ran the ceremonial first laps in a Lotus 79 which was his championship car.

Most successful drivers and teams

Five races have been held on the Circuit of the Americas. Lewis Hamilton won the first one driving for the McLaren-Mercedes team. Sebastian Vettel crossed the finish line first with his Red Bull in the following year which was followed by a triple-triumph of Lewis Hamilton in the last three years.

Mercedes has three wins on its tally with the Briton while Red Bull and McLaren both have one-one victory.

Track characteristics

The design of the track draws from different Grand Prix circuits including the Maggotts-Becketts-Chapel sequence of the Silverstone track, Hockenheim’s arena section, Istanbul’s reputed turn eight, the Senna S at the Interlagos circuit and Österreichring’s Sebring-Auspuffkurve.

The 5.516m long track has to be completed 56 times during the Grand Prix which gives a total race distance of 308.405km.

The are 20 corners on the track, eleven of them are left-handed bends. Four turn – T2, T3, T4 and T10 – are extremely high-speed bends – drivers reach speeds of over 250kph. The velocity of the car drops under the 100kph mark in five corners – T1, T11, T12, T13 and T15.

The track has a changing face in terms of rhythm. The first sector is made up predominantly by high-speed corners. The second sector consists slower bends and an incredibly long straight which usually turns out to be the best overtaking spot. The last sector is made up by three very slow turns, a high-speed, never-ending bend and a middle-speed corner (the second-to-last one) which usually poses a big challenge to the drivers with its tricky exit.

Drivers have to apply the brake pedal ten times, four of the braking actions are heavy ones.

The track demands a lot from the power units as drivers spend around 68 per cent of the lap at full throttle. The longest full-throttle section lasts approximately 13 seconds.

Drivers change gears 54 times over a lap. The distance from the first row to the first corner is not long, only 280m, but it has a significant degree of incline which makes starts complicated.

Last year’s race brought 79 overtaking moves, 23 of them were completed by using the DRS.