Drivers share first impressions of new circuit
16 November 2012 – Friday brought Formula 1 its first new race track for over a year, as the last had been the sport’s first visit to India in October 2011. Austin’s Circuit of the Americas proved to be slippery and dusty as well as twisty and undulating. No matter what type of car you drive, the 3.4-mile, anti-clockwise configuration is a challenge for all…
Michael Schumacher won five times at Indianapolis, which could just as easily have been six. How did the seven-time World Champion take to the debuting Texas venue?
“I have to say, it’s nice being back in the US and I hope that the fans appreciate Formula 1 being back too,” Schumacher begins. “The circuit will certainly help to showcase how attractive our sport can be. It has a very nice layout and the good thing is that it’s very challenging…it takes just a bit of time to understand what you have to do and where the biggest challenges are. The track is still very green, especially offline, but it delivers lots of potential for a good show.”
Further back in second practice, there were mixed feelings in the Toro Rosso garage for both Jean-Éric Vergne and Daniel Ricciardo.
“The new track lived up to the expectations we had before coming here, although the lack of grip spoilt it a little bit,” the Australian admitted. “But as the track rubbers-in and cleans up, I’m sure it will get even better. The grip level did improve from morning to afternoon but I’d expected a bit more; in fact, I reckon next year we could find a completely different circuit, although by this Sunday I think it will be much more fun. The slippery conditions meant it was difficult to understand what our car was doing.”
In the morning, Kamui Kobayashi made history by completing the first ever lap at the Hermann Tilke-designed circuit, which was later reduced in time by 17 seconds.
“I really like driving here,” he smiled, having previously thought that the usual pre-race hype was making the track look better than it would be.
“We had a break due to a broken exhaust, but the mechanics fixed the car quickly and I was able to go out on Medium compound tyres as well. I must say, I have big warm up problems with both compounds - it just doesn’t work in qualifying if you need ten laps to get the tyres to work. We’ll look for other solutions.”
30 years ago, the F1 title was decided in the USA and Sebastian Vettel could claim his third crown this weekend. Contrary to some reports, this weekend’s event is not the first in Texas, as Dallas hosted a single street race in 1984; Nigel Mansell clinched a career-first pole for Lotus before Keke Rosberg took the spoils for Williams 24 hours later.