Things to know before the American Grand Prix

By on
F1 Grand Prix, GP USA, Circuit of The Americasus

Formula One moved its Circus from Eastern to Western hemispheres this weekend as the championship battles are nearing their conclusion. Scene of the rush is Austin, Texas with its beloved COTA complex.

1. The race track of Austin is 5.513km long. Drivers will need to cover 56 laps during the race to complete the full race distance of 308.405km. The lap record is held by Sebastian Vettel who clocked a 1:37.766 in his Ferrari in 2017. The outright circuit record is 1:32.237 which was achieved by Lewis Hamilton during yesterday’s qualifying session.

2. To stop drivers from exceeding the track limits and gaining time illegally, three bumps similar to those on the exit of Turns 11, 15 and 19 have been installed behind the exit kerb at Turn 1. Furthermore, kerbs 2m long, 1m wide and 50mm high have been installed behind the apex kerbs in Turns 16 and 17.

3. There will be two DRS zones at COTA. The detection point of the first will be 150m after Turn 10, with the activation point 250m after Turn 11. The second zone’s detection point will be 65m after Turn 18, with the activation point 80m after Turn 20, on the start/ finish straight.

4. COTA is still among the new additions to the calendars. It made its debut in 2012 and has already made its name for itself. The track was built by the Hermann Tilke-led group which took aspirations from different race circuits, including a recreation of Silverstone's Maggotts-Becketts-Chapel sequence, Hockenheim's arena bends, and a replica of Istanbul's Turn Eight and Interlagos’ Senna S bend.

5. The circuit has hosted a wide variety of races for different series: Formula One, FIA World Rallycross Championship, World Series Formula V8 3.5, Porsche SuperCup, V8 Supercars, American Le Mans Series, FIM MotoGP World Championship, Rolex Sports Car Series. IndyCar is to make its debut at COTA in 2019 as the most famous American open-wheel series has already announces its intention to held the second round of its 2019 Championship in Texas.

6. The circuit and Grand Prix were first proposed in the middle of 2010. The circuit was the first in the United States to be purpose-built for Formula One. Worth noting that, constructed in 1909, the Indianapolis race track is the second purpose-built, banked oval racing circuit after Brooklands and the first to be called a 'speedway'.

7. The circuit is run counter-clockwise which puts extra pressure and loads on drivers’ shoulders and necks.

8. The distance from the pole position to the apex of Turn 1 is 363.5m. This section is quite short, the start can be interesting though. From the start line, the drivers climb a gradient of over 11% to the first corner—the highest point of the circuit—with the apex of the corner positioned on the crest of the hill. Drivers overshooting the braking point and running just a tiny bit wide can be in serious trouble coming out of the first corner and approaching the following blindingly fast S-curved bends.

9. Today’s race will be the 40th FIA Formula One United States Grand Prix. The race debuted in 1959 at Sebring. It has subsequently been held at Riverside (1960), Watkins Glen (1961-80), Phoenix (1989-91) and Indianapolis (2000-2007). This is the seventh consecutive running at the purpose-built Circuit of the Americas. The USA has hosted several other races such as the US Grand Prix West at Long Beach, the Caesars Palace Grand Prix in Las Vegas, the Detroit Grand Prix and the Dallas Grand Prix.

10. Ferrari are the most successful constructor at the US Grand Prix, scoring nine wins. Lewis Hamilton is the most successful driver at the US Grand Prix. He is also the only driver to win the race at more than one venue. Vettel has taken the fastest lap in five of the six races at COTA. He missed out in 2015 when Nico Rosberg went quickest.