When: Friday 15th – Sunday 17th November, 2013
Where: Austin, United States
Round: 18 of 19
Xevi Pujolar, Chief Race Engineer: The United States Grand Prix returns this year, for only the second time at the Circuit of the Americas, in Austin, Texas. Another Tilke designed track, this one takes some of the best features from some of the classic F1 racing circuits and combines them together to make a challenging layout. There are corners that are strongly inspired by the ‘Senna S’ from Interlagos, the Becketts-Maggots sequence from Silverstone, Motordrome from Hockenheim and the multi-apex Turn 8 from Istanbul. In total, these corners add up to give the circuit a mid- level average corner speed and below average turn angles.
Pirelli have chosen the same compound combination as last year, bringing the hard and medium compounds, and they are expected to last for a relatively long number of laps with a low level of degradation. It is likely to be a one-stop race if the tarmac’s roughness remains the same as last year. The current weather forecast is changeable for all three days with cool temperatures and a chance of rain throwing other elements into the mix. After showing improved pace in Abu Dhabi, we are looking forward to getting out to Austin and pushing hard for the final two races of the 2013 season.
Pastor Maldonado: Austin is one of the better new circuits and it’s a challenging layout that I enjoyed last year. Turn 1 is particularly spectacular with its very steep climb and the atmosphere last year was one of the best of the season. The track is quite hard on the tyres because of the many high speed corners and it is a long lap so getting on top of this will be a key focus during the practice sessions. The weather can also be quite varied in Texas with strong winds common and swings in temperature so this is another challenge for the teams. We made a positive step forward with the car in Abu Dhabi and its feeling better to drive, so hopefully we can continue making progress this weekend and manage to finish in the points.
Valtteri Bottas: I did not drive this track in FP1 last year so this will be a new experience for me but one I’m really looking forward to. I talked to some of the drivers last year and they were very positive and mentioned how challenging the Circuit of the Americas was. There are lots of different types of corners so you will need a well balanced car to get a good laptime. You need a car that changes direction well and doesn’t feel too soft as it needs to be very responsive when turning from one corner to the other. There is also a very long back straight so you need to find a good compromise between the level of downforce and drag. Turn 1 looks especially fun to tackle but the main excitement for me will be sector 1 in general because it has a lot of flowing high speed sections. The fans in Austin were so passionate and loud last year as well, that is my overriding memory, and it will be great to return to the US for a second year.
Rémi Taffin, Renault Sport F1 Head of Track Operations: Last year Austin proved to be an interesting challenge for engines. The low humidity put the internals of the engine under a lot of pressure, with the gradient changes – particularly into turn 1 – compounding the difficulty. We found fuel consumption to be one of the highest of the season due to the twisty first and last sectors where the driver is constantly on and off the throttle and also due the aerodynamic configuration, which tends to be high downforce, so higher drag. The starting fuel load is correspondingly one of the heaviest of the year. With an average speed over one lap of 196kph during the race and just over 205kph during qualifying, the Circuit of the Americas sits towards the top end of the power sensitive tracks.
Paul Hembery, Pirelli Motorsport Director: We’ll be bringing the P Zero Orange hard tyre and P Zero White medium tyre to the United States Grand Prix, as we did on its debut last year. Austin is a circuit that places several high-speed demands on the tyres due to some fast corners and rapid elevation changes that are reminiscent of classic circuits such as Spa or Suzuka. This leads to more energy and therefore heat going through the tyres, which is a key factor in wear and degradation. Even though it’s November, we’re still likely to have warm weather in Texas, which obviously affects thermal degradation too. In terms of tyre management, ensuring good traction out of the slower corners – such as the hairpin that forms Turn 1 – will be an essential consideration, so it will be important for the drivers to maximise their tyre usage. Obviously the circuit was brand new in 2013, but this year all the teams will have previous information to help them plan their strategy.