After a year off, F1 returns to the USA and Circuit of the Americas for the United States Grand Prix.
The somewhat hubristically styled “Circuit Of The Americas” not only breaks most typographic conventions regarding capitalisation, but also shows a startling lack of regard for some of the other 35 countries comprising “The Americas” that might from time to time hold Grand Prix, such as Canada, Mexico, Brazil or Argentina.
COTA is in Austin, at the heart of Texas which is, as any Texan will tell you at some length, much bigger than America itself and has more cowboy hats per head than any other state.
One of the newest purpose-built racetracks in F1, the circuit is another Hermann TilkeBernie Ecclestone's personal
racetrack designer job, and, like so many other attractions in the US, basically a copy of various European tracks; with a replica of Silvertone's Maggotts-Becketts-Chapel complex, Hockenheim's Motordrom arena section and elevation changes and a lift of Istanbul's famous Turn 8.
It also has features that look spookily like the Senna curves from Interlagos, however as the circuit runs anti-clockwise, all these features are, in effect, reversed.
Overall, the track is reminiscent of Suzuka, with both high and low speed corners and a good long straight down the back to give some overtaking opportunity.
The start/finish straight runs uphill and the first corner hairpin leaves drivers with a great view of the sky as they turn left,
and downhill into a very fast first sector where the “Esses” of turns 3 through 6 are all taken flat out,
putting a lot of wear on the tyres as they slide around.
Turns 7 through 9 tighten up quickly and a double kerb has been installed at Turn 9 that keeps the drivers on the track as they try and set up for the short acceleration zone through the kink at Turn 10 to the second hairpin at Turn 11.
The back straight follows, with the best overtaking opportunity happening under heavy braking into Turn 12.
The third sector starts with a medium-slow set of double rightTurns 13 & 14 then double leftTurn 15 handers encouraging a cheeky outside-line attack before the intriguing multi-apex triple right of Turns 16–18 that can be taken on full throttle, blasting down into Turn 19 which requires only the lightest of dabs of the slow-pedal to set up for the moderately fast uphill Turn 20 back onto the start-finish straight.
COTA uses the local terrain to good advantage and has steadily gained grip each year as it beds in, but about a third of the track was resurfaced in 2020 to fill in some of the bumps that had developed and, due to COVID,
nobody from F1 has been able to go and examine it to find out quite what it is like now.
The track is wide, with large run-offs, encouraging drivers to try different lines of attack and thus encouraging overtaking opportunity.
With the track measuring 40m131 feet from low point to high point, there are some big elevation changes putting pressure on the car, and good traction is important here.
With the two fastest corners being right-handers, and a full-throttle triple-apex right, it is the front left tyre that takes the brunt of the wear and ultimately limits the drive.
|Predicted weather for the race:||29°C|
|Dry Tyre Compounds||Cinturato Wet Tyres|
|Hard × 2||Medium × 3||Soft × 8||Intermediate × 4||Full Wet × 3|