AUSTIN: THE START OF AN AMERICAN JOURNEY
MARIO ISOLA - PIRELLI HEAD OF MOTORSPORT
“Austin kicks off a series of four races – three of them run consecutively – on the American continent. And it all begins with the United States Grand Prix: a land that is steeped in motorsport tradition but has truly made its F1 presence felt only in the last few years, thanks to all the different initiatives implemented by Liberty Media in a number of different areas.
The Circuit of the Americas has hosted the United States Grand Prix every year since 2012, with the exception of 2020 when it was cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic. I would describe COTA as a complete track, with medium to high levels of downforce. Turn 1, a left-hander, is particularly distinctive at the end of a 22-metre climb, covered within just 200 metres of track distance. It makes the start particularly interesting, with drivers heading in a number of different directions to find the best line. That corner leads into a flowing first sector, characterised by a series of medium to fast corners all the way to the hairpin that is Turn 11. That’s then followed by a long straight leading into the final part of the track, which is instead typified by a series of slower and 90-degree corners.
The forces at work on the tyres are mainly lateral, and they are quite well balanced between front and rear, without a specific corner of the car being subjected to particular stress. It’s also important to have good traction in the slow corners. The asphalt is still quite bumpy, despite the partial resurfacing that took place last year. This can lead to the tyre sliding very slightly, which is a potential cause of overheating. The degradation seen at Austin is mostly thermal, while graining is quite a rare occurrence, The race has always been held in autumn: a time of year when the weather can be very changeable, even within a very short time span. It’s not uncommon to see alternately sunny and rain days, with a wide range of temperatures.
The Sprint format comes to Austin for the first time this year; another opportunity for a fanbase that is becoming more and more enthusiastic about modern F1 to soak up some spectacular action.”
THE TYRES ON TRACK
- The drivers will have the C2 as P Zero White hard, C3 as P Zero Yellow medium and C4 as P Zero Red soft at the Circuit of the Americas.
- The Medium and the Hard were used during last year’s race. Race winner Max Verstappen did his first and his final stint on the Mediums, with the middle stint run on the Hard. There were two neutralisations with safety cars.
- Austin will host a ‘Sprint’ weekend for the first time in its history this year. This means that on Friday there will just be one hour of free practice and then qualifying. On Saturday there will be the F1 Sprint itself (preceded by the Shootout to set the Sprint grid) while on Sunday the Grand Prix takes place as usual.
- This weekend’s race will be the 75th Grand Prix to take place in the United States. A total of 11 different venues have hosted world championship races, with Watkins Glen staging the most Grands Prix – 20 in total – followed by Indianapolis on 19.
- Austin has hosted the race on 10 occasions previously: five of them have been won by Lewis Hamilton, most recently in 2017. Ten years previously, at the 2007 United States Grand Prix, Lewis won his very first F1 race: held at the time in Indianapolis.
- Some corners on the Herman Tilke-designed Circuit of the Americas are inspired by famous turns at other renowned tracks. Turns 3 to 6 are reminiscent of the Maggotts-Becketts complex at Silverstone, turns 12 to 15 are inspired by a section of the Hockenheimring, while turns 16 to 18 take after the celebrated turn 8 at Istanbul Park.
- The F1 Academy will make an appearance alongside Formula 1 for the first time at Austin, to mark its final race of the season. The Pirelli-equipped series for young female drivers will host three races at the Texan track and crown its inaugural champion. Prema Racing’s Marta Garcia currently leads the championship with 235 points, followed by ART Grand Prix driver Lena Buhler on 187 points and MP Motorsport’s Hamda Al Qubaisi on 179 points.
Founded in 1872, Pirelli is a company with deep Italian roots now recognised all over the world for its cutting-edge technology, capacity for innovation, and the quality of its products. Motorsport has always played an important part in Pirelli’s strategy, following the ‘race to road’ philosophy. The company has been engaged in motorsport for 116 years and today supplies tyres to more than 350 championships on both two and four wheels. Pirelli pays constant attention to the most efficient use of natural resources and energy, and will reach carbon neutrality by 2030.
Pirelli has been Global Tyre Partner of the FIA Formula 1 World Championship since 2011. The company also supplies championships including FIA Formula 2, FIA Formula 3, Formula Regional European Championship by Alpine, FIA World Rally Championship and GT World Challenge, alongside numerous national series.