American Grand Prix – Preview

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Formula One headed towards America to kick off its three-destination-long tour in the continent nicknamed ’New World’. As the first station of this tour, the Circuit of the Americas serves as the home of the 2018 FIA Formula One United States Grand Prix.

Formula One and America have a long, eventful and colourful relationship. The inaugural race was held at the Sebring International Raceway in 1959, before moving to the Riverside International Raceway in California in 1960 and finally finding a more permanent home at Watkins Glen from 1961 to 1980. After briefly returning at the Phoenix Street Circuit from 1989 to 1991, the race failed to appear on the calendar until a stint at the legendary Indianapolis Motor Speedway from 2000 to 2007.

After a five-season-long absence, Formula One returned to the United States in 2012. An all-new venue in Austin, Texas, became the scene of the revived presence of the sport in the USA. The Circuit of The Americas (COTA) is the first purpose-built Grand Prix facility in the US and was officially opened on October 21, 2012 by COTA ambassador and 1978 Formula One World Champion, Mario Andretti.

Most successful drivers and teams

Lewis Hamilton is the most successful driver in the history of the American Grand Prix. The Briton was victorious six times, scoring a win in Indianapolis with McLaren and winning every single race at the Circuit of the Americas bar in 2013. With his five victories, Michael Schumacher has a similar story in the USA. The German won for Ferrari in 2000 and was victorious from 2003 until 2006.

The two-time world champion Graham Hill won three times in the New World. The British racing driver won in 1963, 1964 and 1965. The driver who is the only winner of the motorsport’s Triple Crown scored all these wins at Watkins Glen. Interestingly, he could not win in the US in his championship winning years.

Among the two-time American GP winners are Ayrton Senna, Carlos Reutemann, James Hunt and Jackie Stewart.

Ferrari is the dominating force as far as the American GP winning constructors are concerned. The Italians have won on nine occasions, albeit the last victory dates back to 2006. Lotus and McLaren are both eight-time winning teams. Mercedes occupies the third place of the imaginary rostrum with its four victories after having won the last four editions of the American Grand Prix. BRM is the only three-time winning constructor while Tyrell is the only team which has won two times.

Track description

The track with its total length of 5.513km is among the longer circuits of the current calendar. Drivers need to complete 56 laps during the race to cover the whole race distance of 308.405km.

The high-speed track consists of 20 bends, of which 11 turns are left-handed ones. The circuit is a mixture of slow-speed, medium-speed and high-speed corners and all three sectors involve different types of bends. The first part of the track is dominated by medium-speed corners which form a long S-curved section reminiscent of the first part of the Suzuka race circuit. The highest lateral G force is 3.9 which drivers have to withstand in Turn 16.

The distance from the pole position to the apex of Turn 1 is 363.5m. Interestingly, drivers have to climb up a crest to arrive to the first corner. The pit lane has a length of 415m where drivers have to adhere to a speed limit of 80kph. It results in a time loss of 18.7s.

Drivers apply the brakes eight times during a lap, of which three are heavy braking zones. The fuel consumption is medium around the modern American circuit. The track offers two great opportunities for overtaking. The back straight of the track is the main overtaking scene where the second DRS zone is located. The other key overtaking spot is the first braking zone into the first corner.