10 April 2019 09:00
Formula 1’s United States Grand Prix is one of the championship’s centre pieces and blends a rich history with a dynamic present. The purpose-built Circuit of the Americas joined the Formula 1 calendar in 2012, with the Hermann Tilke-designed venue immediately becoming a popular venue on the schedule not just because of its scintillating layout but also its close proximity to the vibrant Texan city of Austin, which has fully embraced F1.
The circuit has already played host to its fair share of action-packed events, including the coronation of Lewis Hamilton as World Champion in 2015, capping one of the most extraordinarily unpredictable races of the modern era. That rich vein of form has enabled Hamilton to already be the most successful Formula 1 driver at the United States Grand Prix, having claimed six wins at the event, though in 2018 he had to play second fiddle to the evergreen Kimi Raikkonen, who picked up his first victory in six years with a sublime performance.
The Circuit of the Americas is nonetheless just one of the iconic venues that has played host to the United States Grand Prix, an event that has been held 40 times through the 70-year history of the Formula 1 World Championship. The leafy challenging circuit of Watkins Glen became the home of the United States Grand Prix for the best part of two decades, with the autumnal affair meaning it played a crucial role in determining the outcome of the World Championship. Phoenix, was a short-lived event but at the turn of the new millennium the championship raced back into the country at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. Formula 1 used a segment of the world-famous oval used for the Indianapolis 500 and seven-times World Champion Michael Schumacher proved to be the king of the venue. Dogged by tyre-gate controversy, and dwindling attendances resulted in 2007 being its swansong. Two years later, and with F1 keen to re-build an American fan base, a brand-new facility was announced for Austin, Texas. The Circuit of the Americas is not only a stunning circuit but Austin is a great place to visit too.
In recent years it has been Mercedes and Lewis Hamilton who have been supreme at the event; only twice in the six-season history of the Circuit of the Americas has Hamilton been beaten to the chequered flag, but last year that was accomplished courtesy of Ferrari’s Kimi Raikkonen, who edged a thrilling three-driver three-team fight, proving the circuit’s qualities for great racing. The Safety Car’s appearance in four of the last five races suggests the drivers are up for more than a little scrapping too. Raikkonen’s win capped a Grand Prix that featured 27 overtakes – most of them by Max Verstappen, who rose from the lower reaches of the grid to claim a close runner-up spot, the second straight year and redemption for the controversy that robbed him the year before, in which the Red Bull ace has carved his way through the pack at the Circuit of the Americas. Equipped with a better grid spot, and a stronger power unit, could the Dutchman go one better in 2019?
The local fans may not have a home hero to cheer on but they have their own representative team on the Formula 1 grid courtesy of Haas, which has part of its Formula 1 operations at Kannapolis, North Carolina, and since 2016 has been carrying the Stars and Stripes on the Formula 1 grid. Last year the operation claimed a best of fifth in the Constructors’ Championship – having led the midfield during the early stages of 2019 can they go one better and deliver a standout result on home soil? Could this be the year to go one better? A podium? Don’t bet against it.
And part of the Haas fans’ destination is Haas hill, which itself is a favoured fan zone in a circuit designed around the needs of the spectator. The spectacular tower provides breath-taking views of COTA and the surrounding area, while its 360 Amphitheatre has played host to some packed fan zones, not to mention the post-event concerns that previous years have featured global superstars Sir Elton John and Taylor Swift.
And Austin itself throws its doors open to Formula 1. Streets are closed to make way for an F1 Fan Festival away from the track providing an intoxicating mix of European and American culture, food and music and of course F1 – be sure to head on down to Sixth Street for your choice of party venue, and don’t miss out on the classic Sunday night swansong at Pete’s Piano Bar!
For your slice of America, great racing, and vibrant Austin evenings, join in the fun with Motorsport Live at the United States Grand Prix.