The Big Preview: United States Grand Prix at Circuit of the Americas
13 November, 2013
For the penultimate race of the 2013 season, Formula 1 makes it way to Texas and Austin’s Circuit of the Americas, the second time the sport will visit the 5.513 km track.
Immediately popular with most F1 drivers on its inauguration last year, the counter-clockwise circuit is an intriguing blend of corner types, with sections modelled on famous stretches of some of the world’s most celebrated grand prix tracks.
The first sector in particular was singled out for praise by many drivers due to the challenge presented by its first corner, approached up a steep hill and featuring a blind apex, and because of the rapid changes of direction through turns four to six, said to resemble the Maggots-Becketts complex at Silverstone.
Sector two contains a long straight ending in a good overtaking opportunity at Turn 12, while the final sector is a more technical stretch similar in style to Hockenheim’s stadium section and the tricky Turn 19, a downhill medium-speed left-hander which many branded the toughest corner on the track to get just right.
Last year’s race was notable for high track evolution over the weekend and cold weather that made getting tyres up to optimum working temperature difficult.
With Sebastian Vettel and his Red Bull Racing team untouchable in the Drivers’ and Constructors’ Championships attention turns to the runners-up spots, particularly in the teams’ competition. There, Mercedes, on 334 points, have an 11-point lead over Ferrari. However, the momentum is marginally with the Silvers Arrows, who have scored 67 points over the last four races compared with the Prancing Horse’s 49.
In the driver’s battle, with third-placed Kimi Raikkonen of Lotus set to miss the final two rounds of the season, second-placed Fernando Alonso of Ferrari looks certain to claim the runners-up spot.
Circuit of the Americas Data
- Length of lap: 5.513 km
- Lap record: 1:39.347 (Sebastian Vettel, Red Bull Racing, 2012)
- Start/finish line offset: 0.323 km
- Total number of race laps: 56
- Total race distance: 308.405 km
- Pitlane speed limits: 80 km/h throughout the weekend.
Changes to circuit since 2013
- Removable kerbs, 50mm high, similar to those used at the apex of Turns Eight and Nine in Abu Dhabi, have been installed at the apex of Turns Three, Four and Five. Similar kerbs, 75 mm high, have been placed at the apex of Turns Seven and Nine.
- There will be two DRS zones at COTA. The detection point of the first will be 150 metres after Turn 10, with the activation point 320 m after Turn 11. The second zone’s detection point will be 65 m after Turn 18, with the activation point 80 m after Turn 20, just before the start / finish line.
United States Grand Prix Fast Facts
- Including Austin, Formula 1 has staged races at 10 different venues in the United States. Indianapolis Motor Speedway kicked things off with races from 1950-1960 and then staged the US GP again from 2000-2007. Following Indianapolis’ first stint, F1 World Championship races have also been held at Sebring (1959), Riverside (1960), Watkins Glen (1961-’80), Long Beach (1976-’83), Las Vegas (1981-’82), Detroit (1982-’88), Dallas (1984) and Phoenix (1989-’91).
- Alan Jones is the only driver to win at more than two US venues. The Australian racer took his first victory on American soil at the 1980 US Grand Prix at Watkins Glen and the following year he won races at Long Beach and Las Vegas. All three triumphs were achieved at the wheel of Williams cars.
- Lewis Hamilton is the only current driver to have won at more than one US circuit. The Briton took his second grand prix victory at the 2007 race in Indianapolis and landed his 21st win at last year’s inaugural Austin event. On both occasions he was driving for McLaren.
- Michael Schumacher is the most successful Formula 1 driver at races designated as the United States Grand Prix. The seven-time champion won five times at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, in 2000 and from 2003-’06. The German’s 2005 win was notorioulsy scored at the grand prix with the fewest starters in F1 history. Just six cars raced the ’05 event after questions over tyre safety caused the withdrawal of 14 cars.
- Next on the list of biggest winners are Jim Clark and Graham Hill, with three wins each. The pair dominated the US Grand Prix at Watkins Glen for a six-year spell in the 1960s, with Clark winning in 1962 and then claiming back-to-back victories in 1966-’67. Hill, meanwhile, rattled off a hat-trick of wins from 1963-’65.
- Ayrton Senna is the most successful driver at multiple US venues. The three-time F1 champion took two United States Grand Prix wins in 1990 and 1991 in Phoenix. He also won the Detroit Grand Prix three times from 1986-’88.
- Though California’s Alexander Rossi will take part in this weekend’s first practice session, the last US driver to start a home grand prix was Scott Speed in 2007. Driving for Toro Rosso, he started 20th and finished 13th at Indianapolis. Speed made his GP weekend debut with Red Bull Racing at the Canadian Grand Prix in 2005 in a practice session and made his race debut for Toro Rosso the following year in the opening round in Bahrain. He made 29 more starts for Toro Rosso before losing his race seat after the 2007 European Grand Prix at the Nurburgring. His replacement? None other than four-time World Champion elect Sebastian Vettel.
- If Vettel wins this weekend, he will take the outright record for most consecutive wins in a single season. Vettel currently has seven wins in a row to his credit.
United States Grand Prix Statistics by Reuters
- Vettel has won his fourth successive title, becoming the youngest quadruple champion and first to win his first four crowns in a row. The German is only the fourth quadruple champion.
- Red Bull have also won the constructors’ crown for the fourth year in a row, becoming only the third team to perform that feat after Ferrari and McLaren.
- Vettel has won the last seven races and can become the first driver to win eight in a row in a single season.
- The record of nine was set by Italian Alberto Ascari over the course of two seasons in 1952-53.
- Four teams have won the 17 races so far (Lotus, Red Bull, Ferrari, Mercedes).
- Vettel has won 11 races in 2013. Ferrari’s Fernando Alonso and Mercedes’s Nico Rosberg have both won twice and Kimi Raikkonen and Hamilton once.
- Vettel has 37 career wins, Alonso 32, Hamilton 22, Raikkonen 20 and McLaren’s Jenson Button 15.
- Ferrari have won 221 races, McLaren 182, Williams 114 and Red Bull 44.
- Vettel has taken six poles this season, team mate Mark Webber two and Mercedes the rest.
- Caterham and Marussia have yet to score a point after three seasons in F1.
- Sauber’s Mexican Esteban Gutierrez is the only rookie to have scored a point this season
- Formula One has raced at 10 different venues in the United States over the years. Austin is hosting a race for only the second time.
- The last U.S. driver to start a Formula One race was Scott Speed with Toro Rosso in 2007. Californian Alexander Rossi will be in the Caterham for Friday practice only this year.
- Hamilton is the only driver on the starting grid to have won previously in the United States.
- The Circuit of the Americas is one of five anti-clockwise tracks on the calendar. It has 20 corners, the third most turns of any circuit used.
- The safety car has yet to be deployed in Austin.
- Last year’s grand prix had the fewest pitstops (24) of any race in 2012.
- Vettel has equalled Schumacher’s 2004 run of seven wins in a row, the best run of success of the modern era. He also took his 60th podium finish in Abu Dhabi.
- Ferrari have set a record for most consecutive points finishes. The Abu Dhabi Grand Prix was their 65th race in a row in the points, a run dating back to the 2010 German Grand Prix.
- Marussia’s Max Chilton chalked up his 17th successive finish, a record for a rookie.
United States Grand Prix Race Stewards Biographies
- Paul Gutjahr started racing in the late 1960s with Alfa Romeo, Lancia, Lotus and Porsche, then March in Formula 3. In the early ‘70s he became President of the Automobile Club Berne and organised numerous events. He acted as President of the organising committee of the Swiss GP at Dijon between 1980-82. Between 1980-2005 he acted as President of the Commission Sportive Nationale de l’Automobile Club de Suisse and in 2005 he became President and board member of the Auto Sport Suisse motor sports club. Gutjahr is President of the Alliance of European Hill Climb Organisers and has been steward at various high-level international competitions. He was the Formula 3000 Sporting Commissioner and has been a Formula 1 steward since 1995.
- José Abed, an FIA Vice President since 2006, began competing in motor sport in 1961. In 1985, as a motor sport official, Abed founded the Mexican Organisation of International Motor Sport (OMDAI) which represents Mexico in the FIA. He sat as its Vice-President from 1985 to 1999, becoming President in 2003. In 1986, Abed began promoting truck racing events in Mexico and from 1986 to 1992, he was President of the Mexican Grand Prix organising committee. In 1990 and 1991, he was President of the organising committee for the International Championship of Prototype Cars and from 1990 to 1995, Abed was designated Steward for various international grands prix events. Since 1990, Abed has been involved in manufacturing prototype chassis, electric cars, rally cars and kart chassis.
- From 187 grand prix starts Nigel Mansell took 32 pole positions, 31 victories and 28 other podium finishes. He raced for Team Lotus, Williams, Ferrari and McLaren, winning the FIA Formula 1 World Champion in 1992 with Williams. The following season Mansell took a sabbatical from Formula 1 and raced in the CART championship. He become the first rookie to win that title and the only man to hold the F1 and CART titles simultaneously. He returned to F1 with Williams in 1994, taking part in four races, and scored the final win of his F1 career at the season-ending Australian Grand Prix. He briefly moved to McLaren in 1995 before retiring from F1 midway through the season.