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Circuit of the Americas - U.S. Grand Prix | Track Review

David Pratte
Apr 23, 2013
1303 modp 02 o+us grand prix+race track Photo 1/3   |   The high-speed esses of Turns 3, 4, 5, and 6-inspired by the Maggotts-Becketts-Chapel section of Silverstone circuit in the UK-should be exciting for drivers and spectators alike.

Specs & Details

Circuit of the Americas

Location Austin, Texas

Track Configuration 3.41-mile, 20-turn, counterclockwise circuit

Longest Straight 0.62 miles (between T11 and T12)

Elevation Change 133 feet

Other Facilities 120,000-spectator-capacity, 40,000-square-foot, state-of-the-art conference/media center; 250-foot-high observation tower and amphitheater; 5,500 square-foot medical center; Motorsports Driving Club; karting track; public spaces for private events, seminars, and conventions; retail center; museum; research facilities; driving academies; educational programs

1303 modp 01 o+us grand prix+racing Photo 2/3   |   Circuit of the Americas - U.S. Grand Prix | Track Review

Give yourself a pat on the back, 'merica! By the time you're reading this, the U.S. Grand Prix will have been successfully completed at the brand spankin' new Circuit of the Americas, the first purpose-built Formula 1 track in these United States. Designed by Hermann Tilke, COTA is a stone's throw from downtown Austin, Texas, and is a truly world-class facility, both in terms of the track's highly technical yet fast and flowing layout and with respect to on-site facilities.

Let's face it: To attract Bernie's F1 circus, you simply cannot cut any corners or skimp on quality, so it should come as no surprise that the track surface is Grade 1, meaning it was graded to perfection before being topped with the highest quality asphalt. And just like you're used to seeing at other Grade 1 F1 facilities designed by Tilke, there are huge runoff areas, so safety is top-notch. There's also ultramodern architecture used across the 1,300-acre facility, from the double-helix-inspired, 250-foot observation tower to the massive pit lane complex that houses team garages and suites.

1303 modp 01 o+us grand prix+circuit of the americas Photo 3/3   |   Looking down the front straight, you get a sense of the 133-foot rise into Turn 1.

Unlike many other recent F1 circuits, which have mostly been built on flat and rather featureless landscapes, COTA is situated on terrain with plenty of natural elevation change. The advantage of this is that from some vantage points (where grandstands have been cleverly positioned), spectators will be able to see as much as 80 percent of the circuit, so rather than just seeing cars buzz by for a few seconds, you'll be able to take in much more of the overall racing action. This should make for a superb experience for fans during F1 races as well as during other major race events scheduled to run at COTA, including MotoGP and Australian V8 SuperCars and ,of course, ALMS/Grand Am and other American series.

COTA also has a true signature corner, which Jason Saini from CJ Motorsports described as a sort of anti-Corkscrew (the famed downhill turn at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca, one of the most recognizable corners in all of motorsports). Rather than plunging dramatically downhill like the Corkscrew, Turn 1 at COTA rises 133 feet before reaching a blind apex lefthand hairpin that drops down the other side of the hill.

Former F1 driver Christian Banner has suggested that finding the right line through the fast sweepers (Turns 3, 4, 5, and 6) modeled on Silverstone's Maggotts-Becketts-Chapel complex will be one of two key areas on the circuit. The other key spot is Turn 12, because this severe hairpin at the end of the long back straight will undoubtedly be the best and most frequently used passing zone.

Sadly, we missed out on attending the first F1 race at this all-new U.S. GP circuit, but given just what a cool city Austin is and what an amazing facility COTA appears to be, you can bet your granny's pension we'll be there for the Aussie V8 SuperCar race in May.

By David Pratte
216 Articles

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