Hand on heart, this is probably the date on the calendar I look forward to the most. I’ve loved every minute of being in Austin: when they picked this place for the US Grand Prix, they absolutely nailed it. The city is awesome. I love listening to live music and this is a great place for that, plus Texas feels like real America, and that’s something I’ve really enjoyed just sinking into the last two seasons. And then, there’s the important bit. The Circuit of the Americas, in my opinion, is the best of the new breed of circuits. The nature of the corners is interesting. It’s also a very busy track where you don’t get much respite. The first sector is very special and that first turn, blind up the big hill is like nothing else in F1. It’s also a good example of the excitement a late-apex can create: you can have a really good lunge there. They’ve done a very good job.
Austin is a fun city where you get a real feel for the Texan lifestyle and traditions and get to race on a great track. The Circuit of the Americas is a track I like a lot; it has 20 corners and we drive it anti-clockwise. The start/finish straight has a steep incline up to the first corner and is the trademark of the track. For us that means the braking starts uphill, which is not easy and locking the front tyres could be a problem. A lot of the corner combinations remind me of other famous circuits on the race calendar. For example the fast combination during the first part of the track feels like Silverstone and Suzuka. The famous Maggotts and Becketts passages were used as a model for this part of the track and the drivers enjoy the extremely fast turns, when the car is balanced right. Also corners 12 and 15, this section was taken from the Motodrom in Hockenheim. It is a slower part of the track, and is designed to create more of a stadium atmosphere. The long bend also reminds of the famous turn 8 in Istanbul.
HEAD OF IT AT INFINITI RED BULL RACING
You’re from Michigan, which is just a bit to the north of Texas, so for a Yankee, what’s the best thing to come out of Texas?
I think it’s the “Can do” attitude of the people and the “Don’t mess with Texas” spirit, which makes this city so special.
Austin dining delicacies: Tex Mex or BBQ?
Definitely Tex Mex. That’s Mexican with a certain twist. I love Mexican food and in the UK, good Mexican food is not that easy to find. In Austin you can get the best Burritos.
Texas football: Dallas Cowboys (NFL) or Dallas FC (MLS)? (Or do the Detroit Lions top them all)?
It’s got to be the Dallas Cowboys. They are a great American Football team and have won multiple Superbowls. American Football definitely beats Soccer. I’ve lived in the UK for 14 years now and I still prefer American Football. Where I grew up, Soccer was a girl’s sport.
Austin’s famous for its music culture – have you sampled it and what’s your favourite place to see live music in the city?
I have only been down there for races, so I didn’t have a lot of free time. But the only place I saw was the Piano Bar on 6th Street. Really fun, interactive and good spirit.
Best band to come out of Texas (Buddy Holly, Stevie Ray Vaughan, ZZ Top, Janis Joplin, Willie Nelson or Beyonce!)
That would be Stevie Ray Vaughan. He played a lot of Rock, Blues and Southern guitar which I love.
COTA: What’s the best thing about the circuit?
Two things. I think the undulating nature of the track is really interesting and from an IT point of view which is my job, it’s very technically advanced. The networking infrastructure and cabling is the best in the world from a technical perspective. It’s a new track and people invested to do the job properly.
What’s your favourite thing about Austin itself?
I think it’s the feel and the vibe of the city as a whole. It’s a really nice mixture of students, hippies, business people, music culture and food. It’s just quite a relaxed atmosphere, it’s safe and it’s warm. Well at least warmer than in England.
Favourite things about racing in the US?
I think the US is full of petrol heads. I’m from Detroit which is the Motor City in the US. And what I like is that F1 is not that popular, but the interest is growing and I think people are genuinely interested in F1. It’s just great seeing the popularity increasing. The last two years I’ve gone I’ve been asked a lot of questions and seen a lot of people who have become fans. It’s definitely cool to see more American fans.
If you had to choose a second venue for F1 in the US where would it be?
One would be New Jersey and another one that could be cool is the Grand Canyon. Racing just close to a big drop-off would look amazing.