“Oops – they did it again” (you’ll get it later in the blog…). A 1-2 finish in Japan for Mercedes. Well executed weekend, all the way from Qualifying (where Ferrari got it’s tire choice wrong – costing them any chance at the pole), to what looked like a comfortable Sunday walk in the park for the silver arrows. A lot of mid-field drama throughout the event though – and that was great to watch – like Max Verstappen actually hitting BOTH Ferrari’s – getting penalized for popping Kimi (rightfully so I might add) and Sebastian, in my opinion, making a foolish move at spoon to attempt a pass on the Red Bull.. 8th to 4th to 18th – to finish 6th. And Daniel Ricciardo – great drive from 15th to finish 4th – Excellent, I bet Renault can’t wait for next year…..
So we come home this weekend – back to Texas where “Everything is Bigger” – including the ramifications of this event for the rest of the season – stay tuned, get out your calculator, and your odds books – you’re going to need them all. At present – Lewis and Mercedes have this season pretty sewn up – unless something drastic changes – and I mean, drastic changes/occurs (Driver’s: Lewis over Sebastian 331 to 264, and Constructor’s: Mercedes over Ferrari 538 to 460). Like I said – D-R-A-S-T-I-C…
And what a place for this season tightening drama to take place? No other than the USA…..
Number 18 of 21: Formula 1 Pirelli United States Grand Prix
Grand Prix racing in the US has been, well, “confused”. The US Grand Prix has never found a real “home”. It’s been all over the country with very little loyalty to any one location. You tell me – In Order: Long Island-NY, Milwaukee-WI, Santa Monica-CA, San Francisco-CA, New York-NY, Indianapolis-IN, Riverside-CA, Sebring-FL (where it was first termed the “United States Grand Prix” by the way), Watkins Glen-NY (held here for 20 years -Watkins Glen also has the longest hosting record of any American Formula One race in history), Las Vegas-NV (Now home for us!!), Long Beach-CA, Detroit-MI, Dallas-TX, Phoenix-AZ, Back to Indianapolis-IN, and now – Finally – at the purpose-built venue of the Circuit of the Americas (COTA) in Texas.
But just where is COTA in Texas – You will hear Austin all weekend long, but in reality – the circuit is located in Elroy, just outside of Austin – or is it… The actual address of the circuit is 9201 COTA Blvd., Del Valle, Texas. Both Del Valle and Elroy are very small unincorporated splotches of land southeast of Austin – and pretty much unrecognizable – so the only recognized city, closest to the circuit itself is of course, Austin – See – size does matter…
Why am I even talking about this? If you want to visit COTA, book a room in Del Valle or Elroy and save a bit of “Jack” – only concern is that you may be in someone’s trailer for the night. You can thank me later…
What an aerial, right? This place is pretty amazing, and has literally “everything”. The design was conceived by promoter Tayo Hellmund and 1993 Motorcycle World Champion Kevin Schwantz with the assistance (of course) by circuit designer Hermann Tilke and in collaboration with American architectural firm HKS. Actual construction began on December 31, 2010 (must have been some hard milestone date right? – New Year’s Eve…), the first round of asphalt was completed on August 3, 2012, and the final layer done on September 21st. F1 first raced on the circuit in 2012, for the first US Grand Prix since the 2007 race at Indianapolis.
For those well versed in F1 – or at least have been “Blog Members” for a year or so – you should see that many of the corners at COTA look somewhat familiar – most of the turns were designed and inspired from many of the great turns from other historical circuits. The steep uphill run into the hairpin turn 1 has become the track’s signature corner, and it is STEEP! Turns 3 through 6 are reminisce of Silverstone’s Maggotts/Becketts complex and somewhat similar to the S-curves at Suzuka 2 weeks ago; turns 12-15 acknowledge Hockenheim’s stadium section; and turns 16 through 18 resemble the famous, multi-apex turn 8 at Istanbul – and through all this – we have to deal with 133 feet of elevation change.
OK – Nothing But The Stats:
Circuit of the Americas
Elroy, Texas – 12 miles south of Austin
3.426 miles (5.513 km)
191.634 miles (308.405 km)
Number of Turns:
Number of Laps:
Last Year’s Winner:
Sebastian Vettel – 1.37.766, 2017
Most Wins Driver:
Lewis Hamilton with 6, Michael Schumacher 2nd with 5
Most Wins Constructor:
Ferrari with 9 wins, 2nd: Lotus and McLaren with 8 each
Saturday: 68 with a good chance of rain (89%)
Sunday: 67 and mostly cloudy – slight chance for rain
I’m guessing – Pirelli
And – guess what? on September 4th of this year IndyCar announced that it has reached a multi-year agreement to add the Circuit Of The Americas to its calendar! Yep – that’s right, COTA will make its IndyCar debut on Sunday, March 24th, 2019 – replacing ISM Raceway, and will be the 2nd race in the season. A direct comparison between F1 and IndyCar?? Not totally sure that the configuration will be “exactly” the same (these governing bodies do not like measuring their series’ – apple to apples, but if so – Awesome) ….
There are also some other pretty cool things going on around this venue – that I believe are worth mentioning…
For instance: The Observation Tower, designed by Miro Rivera Architects and built by Patriot Erectors has become somewhat of a landmark piece at the circuit. To reach the observation platform 230 feet above ground – you can climb the 419 stairs or take the more popular elevator. Once on top, you will surely be joined by others making up the 70 visitor capacity, but will be awarded for your inconvenience with a 360 view of the circuit, plus – you can actually see downtown Austin from up there as well.
The 18 bright red steel tubes that span the tower’s canopy down to the performance stage below are supposed to resemble the visual imagery of sports cars and movement – red being chosen to mimic the streaks of trailing lights at night – see it? Hmmmmmm…
And another one – The Austin360 Amphitheater – winner of Pollstar’s “Best New Major Concert Venue” in 2013 – is an open-air theater which is part of the 1,500 acre sports and entertainment complex with a capacity of about 14,000 guests. The opening concert was performed by Kenny Chesney in April of 2013, and it’s simply stunning at night….
And – To top it all off: 11-time Grammy award winner Bruno Mars with his 24K Magic World Tour is making a stop on the Austin360 Amphitheater stage on Saturday night, October 20th – “Don’t Believe Me? – Just Watch……” (I’m not sure who that other person is next to Bruno, and from what I’ve read lately – I don’t think she knows either…. )
Contracts are still in place for this venue to continue through at least 2021, so we’re good to go for a few. Sit back, relax, and hope for some good old American drama to make the end of the season a bit more exciting, and enjoy the United States Grand Prix from Texas…..
GodSpeed My Friends –
Next Race: No: 19: The Mexican Grand Prix @ Autodromo Hermanos Rodriquez,
Mexico City – October 28th