United States Grand PrixView

By on Thursday, November 14, 2013

COTAFormula 1 returns to the United States of America for the penultimate round of the 2013 season, at the Circuit of the Americas near Austin, Texas, with Sebastian Vettel seeking his eighth successive victory.

It’s safe to say that the 2013 season is ending with a whimper rather than a bang but while attention is turning to 2014, there are still two races to run this year and they both take place at fabulous circuits.

The first of the final back-to-back events of 2013 takes place at the Circuit of the Americas [COTA] near Austin, Texas. The circuit joined the calendar last year and immediately became one of the favourite venues of paddock dwellers.

Sebastian Vettel arrives in Austin on the back of his magnificent seven and it’s difficult to envisage anyone preventing the champion from making it eight on the trot. Vettel claimed pole position at COTA last season but was beaten to the win by Lewis Hamilton, who took his final victory for McLaren. Hamilton could be the main contender to end Vettel’s run as the Brit has never been beaten Stateside.

Behind the Vettel/Red Bull juggernaut, several teams are fighting over a fistful of dollars. Mercedes and Ferrari are separated by just 11 points in the battle for second in the championship while McLaren has just an 18 point buffer over Force India in the scrap for fifth. At the back, Marussia has just two races to hold onto 10th place over Caterham, a position they have held since the season opener.

Kimi Räikkönen will not take part in the race after withdrawing due to back surgery. Heikki Kovalainen will replace his compatriot at Lotus.

Pirelli will bring the medium [white] and hard [orange] tyre and expect drivers to stop twice during the 56 lap race. 1992 world champion Nigel Mansell will act as a steward this weekend.

History

USA startFormula 1 has had a long history with the United States of America but finally Austin could be the venue that provides the sport with a proper home.

Formula 1 left Indianapolis for the final time in 2007 and the future of the sport in the country appeared bleak. In mid-2010, plans were proposed to build a new facility outside of Austin in Texas.

The process wasn’t smooth – primarily due to financial dispute – but the circuit was completed in June 2012 and Formula 1 returned to America in November last season.

The circuit now also hosts major rounds of leading series, including the World Endurance Championship and MotoGP.

The circuit

The circuit is undoubtedly one of the finest to join the calendar across the past decade and contains a mixture of fast corners, long straights and technical turns.

The lap begins with a monumental climb up to turn one, a hairpin with a blind apex that promotes overtaking and a whole host of lines. The circuit rapidly drops away and between turns three and nine is a sequence of corners reminiscent of some of the classic Formula 1 circuits. There’s ample run-off if a driver makes an error, but it requires commitment and precision for six or seven turns.

The long back straight provides the best overtaking opportunity and a chance for the drivers to breathe following the tricky first sector. The final sector is less challenging, but still tricky for the drivers to nail, as Jenson Button explains.

“The final sector is a series of slow-speed, quite technical corners,” he says. “There’s a real variety of corners here, and it’s fun to nail the sequence.”

There will be two DRS zones for the race; the first on the pits straight and the second on the long back straight between turns 11 and 12.

Stats and Facts

Vettel podium USAThe Circuit of the Americas is the tenth venue to host Formula 1 in the USA. Sebring (1959), Riverside (1960), Watkins Glen (1961-’80), Long Beach (1976-’83), Las Vegas (1981-’82), Detroit (1982-’88), Dallas (1984), Phoenix (1989-’91) and Indianapolis (2000-’07) are the others.

Michael Schumacher has claimed the most victories at the United States Grand Prix. Schumacher won five times at Indianapolis, including the infamous race in 2005 when only six cars competed following the withdrawal of the Michelin shod teams.

Alexander Rossi will participate in first practice for Caterham, meaning that he will be the first American to drive at the circuit on a Grand Prix weekend.

Timetable (GMT – 6)

Friday 15 November

  • Practice 1: 09:00 – 10:30
  • Practice 2: 13:00 – 14:30

Saturday 16 November

  • Practice 3: 09:00 – 10:00
  • Qualifying: 12:00 – 13:00

Sunday 17 November

  • Race: 13:00

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