The brand-new Circuit of the Americas in Austin, Texas is all but ready to host the returning United States Grand Prix in November. What better driver to open the track than racing legend Mario Andretti.
The 5.5 kilometre Tilke-designed circuit was declared ‘race ready’ by FIA race director Charlie Whiting after his recent visit. It boasts Silverstone-like sweeping curves in the first sector as well as a long backstraight that should boost overtaking.
“It’s everything I expected, and more,” Andretti said. “You can tell that there was a lot of thought put into the design of this course. The track is extremely technical, with 3.4 miles of real estate to learn. And that’s what we’re doing all day out here.”
“With each and every lap, the driver learns a little bit more. But quite honestly, I think the track is phenomenal. It has all the features that race car drivers are looking for, as far as giving them the opportunity to overtake other drivers in the tighter corner. But then it widens out so there’s plenty of room to maneuver. So bottom line, there should be some really terrific racing out here in the months and years to come,” the 1978 F1 world champion said after a run in the Lotus 79 car he won the title with.
Lotus F1 Team test driver, Jerome D’Ambrosio also had nice things to say about the track after having a run in a Renault E30 Formula 1 car. “It is going to provide plenty of challenges. It has several unique features that make it quite complex. It will challenge the skills of even the most experienced drivers,” D’Ambrosio said. “It will certainly expose any weaknesses a driver may have, especially when it comes to handling the cars through the turns, especially the esses in turns 12 to 15.”
“I see the whole event will having a personality all of its own, and in some ways reflecting the character and temperament of Austin as well as providing a positive exposure for the Texas culture,” the Belgian noted.