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This week’s Formula One videos (Week 44)

Circuit of the Americas ready to rock and roll

The first of a series of video features showcasing in detail the major aspects of the Circuit of the Americas in Austin Texas. International motor racing announcer Jonathan Green brings us up close and personal with all facets of the Circuit of the Americas as we prepare for our first major international event — The 2012 Formula One United States Grand Prix November 16th to 18th.

The great Ferraris of Sergio Pininfarina exhibition official opening at the Ferrari Museum

Present at the opening were Ferrari chairman Luca di Montezemolo, Paolo Pininfarina, president of the eponymous company, Piero  Ferrari and members of the Pininfarina family including the late Sergio’s wife, Giorgia.

Red Bull Racing Seoul, Korea running

Red Bull Junior driver Antonio Felix Da Costa Seoul Running in the RB7 along the Jamsu Bridge in Seoul, South Korea.

Ferrari Azure event in Maranello with 2012 London medal winners

A day to celebrate Italian excellence “bound together by passion for sports, privation and the will to win”, as Montezemolo said.

Caterham: F1 Technical Briefing, Abu Dhabi: How tyre performance affects F1 car set-up

Performance Director John Iley examines the Yas Marina circuit and explains the effect that varying tyre performance can have on car set-up and performance.

Inside Grand Prix: Does Vettel stay at Red Bull Racing? What does Raikkönen?

The topics are: Vettel staying at Red Bull, Raikkönen staying at Lotus, Rumour mill — France to replace New Jersey, Hockenheim not Nürburgring, Nico Rosberg blog, Championship standings, Brembo Brake Facts.

Video: First laps on the Circuit of the Americas, onboard Andretti, d’Ambrosio

By Berthold Bouman

Yesterday Grand Prix Journal reported the Circuit Of the Americas (COTA) was officially opened by 1978 Formula One World Champion Mario Andretti, who drove the first lap on the circuit in a Lotus 79, later followed by Lotus’ test and reserve driver Jerome d’Ambrosio who drove a Lotus Renault R30. On both occasions onboard cameras recorded the event, see below.

Jerome d’Ambrosio, Lotus with cameras on the car

Andretti commented about the circuit, “It’s everything I expected, and more. 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 manoeuvre. So bottom line, there should be some really terrific racing out here in the months and years to come!”

Circuit Of the Americas – First lap Mario Andretti – Lotus 79 – Video COTA

Circuit Of the Americas – First Lap Jerome d’Ambrosio Lotus Renault R30 with commentary – Video COTA

Mario Andretti hails phenomenal Circuit of the Americas

By Berthold Bouman

The Circuit of the Americas (COTA) has been officially opened during a ‘First lap ceremony’ performed by 1978 Formula One World Champion Mario Andretti in a Lotus 79. Andretti, the circuit’s official Ambassador cut a ribbon to open the 3.4 mile track, the first purpose-built Formula One facility in the United States, situated Southeast of Austin, Texas.

Andretti cuts the ribbon to officially open the circuit

“It’s very green, as you could expect,” Andretti told Reuters, “You get off-line a bit — it’s a bit slippery. But that’s normal for a new circuit. Overall, my impression is absolutely fantastic!”

After a few more laps on the circuit Andretti further commented, “It’s everything I expected and more. The track is phenomenal. It has all the features that you are looking for, giving you the opportunity to overtake, while negotiating some tighter corners. You can tell a lot of thought has gone into it.”

Lotus test and reserve driver Jerome d’Ambrosio was the first to lap the circuit in a modern Formula One car, the Lotus R30, and he gave his first impression of the circuit. “There’s a real buzz about the Circuit of The Americas and it was fantastic to get out on track to demonstrate the R30,” d’Ambrosio said. “It’s a very enjoyable layout with a couple of really good places for overtaking, some long fast sweeping ‘S’ corners, and some really good high speed changes of direction like ‘Becketts’ in Silverstone.”

Unfortunately Lotus experienced technical problems which meant running was limited to a few laps in the morning. “It was a shame not to get more laps, as an engine issue meant we were unable to continue running, but I had enough time to get a really good feel of the circuit,” d’Ambrosio said.

He was impressed with the circuit’s lay-out, “It’s an enjoyable track for a racing driver and also fantastic for the fans as the viewing areas are very well placed; there should be plenty of action. The first corner is quite special and it will be interesting to see it when people are dicing for position in the race. Austin is a superb city with a great atmosphere, and I think the city will live around Formula One for the week of the Grand Prix and that’s something we all can enjoy; it’s really going to be something quite special.”

Actor Patrick Dempsey was also present and lapped the circuit in a Ferrari GT 2, and he commented, “It’s a very fast track with a great rhythm to it. For Formula One it’s really important. I don’t think they’ve ever had a home base in America that has worked. It’s a really good opportunity for Formula One to come back into this country and start a new tradition. This is a market that they need.”

Red McCombs, one of the founding partners of the COTA, “It is a very exciting day. I’ve been excited since I was first introduced to this product and the fact that we now have it finished is a joy of mine.” And he added, “When I found out how Formula One is viewed everywhere else in the world, and the dramatic impact it has on the countries where it is run — it is their Super Bowl each year, it is their World Cup — I realized that Formula One has an identity that we need in the United States. And for us to be able to do this here in Austin is so exciting I just can’t wait for the people to be a part of that.”

The United States Grand Prix will take place on November 16-18, a few weeks ago it received the certificate Grade 1 after a visit of FIA Race Director Charlie Whiting.

Andretti in his Lotus 79

Pirelli well-prepared for United States Grand Prix

By Berthold Bouman

The United States Grand Prix at the Circuit of the Americas (COTA) is not only a leap into the unknown for Formula One drivers and teams, but also for Formula One’s sole tyre supplier Pirelli. The Italian company has allocated the Medium and Hard tyre compounds for the inaugural US Grand Prix, the hardest tyres in their range, and a ‘relatively conservative choice’ Pirelli admitted.

Pirelli well-prepared for US GP

Pirelli has recently done a lot of simulation work to determine which tyre compounds would suit the brand-new track best. Pirelli sent two of their tyre engineers to Austin to inspect the track in detail, sophisticated laser equipment was used to determine the abrasiveness of the track’s new asphalt layer, the data was used to create a virtual representation on computer from a tyre point of view.

The engineers also took samples of the asphalt and used them to calculate the likely tyre wear, and also used them to see what the effect of the ambient temperatures at different points around the circuit will have on the tyres.

Pirelli Motorsport Director Paul Hembery said, “There’s no doubt that preparing for a circuit that is completely new is more difficult than going to one of the established venues.” And he added, “The technology and know-how that we have at our disposal means that we can forecast some very accurate predictions without actually having raced at a circuit these days, thanks to the preparation work from our engineers.”

COTA President Steve Sexton was pleased with Pirelli’s preparations, “The sophisticated technology that Pirelli is known for has allowed them to be a market leader. Their analysis of our brand new track can help provide race strategy predictions that should assist drivers and teams toward achieving success at our circuit. We look forward to their continued work at Circuit of the Americas.”

Circuit of The Americas: Pirelli Virtual 3D Track Lap

City of Austin getting ready for United States Grand Prix

By Berthold Bouman

The city of Austin is getting ready for the United States Grand Prix which takes place on November 16-18 at the Circuit of the Americas (COTA), the first purpose-built Formula One facility in the United States, situated Southeast of Austin. After years of preparations and months of construction, the circuit is nearing its completion, last month FIA Race Director Charlie Whiting visited the new track and gave it the official FIA Grade 1 status, which means it is fit for Grand Prix racing.

Meanwhile in downtown Austin, businesses are hoping to cash in on the Formula One circus visiting their town, but there are very strict rules and businesses selling clothing, water and jewellery need a so-called temporary use permit, which must be filed by November 5, the Austin Business Journal reported. Also parties and gatherings need a similar permit and outdoor events with music must apply for an amplified sound permit. City officials have hinted they will be checking for permits throughout the venue.

And there will be a lot of music during the Grand Prix weekend, as COTA also organises a number of music events, in Austin, but also on the track itself. Acts include rock bands Aerosmith and Cheap Trick, rappers Flo Rida and Lupe Fiasco, and Latin artists Juanes and Enrique Iglesias. At the circuit itself, Collective Soul will play on Saturday, and Clay Walker on Sunday, local artists will play on stages scattered around the circuit and they will perform throughout the weekend.

More music as on the same weekend the Austin Fan Fest takes place, a free festival which takes place around downtown Austin’s Warehouse District. There will be five stages, not all names have been released yet, but spectators can expect around 50 different acts to entertain them.

Not just music in downtown Austin, but there will also be Formula One team exhibits, race simulators accessible for the public, and other interactive displays. The event is sponsored by Mobil 1, Red Bull, Bud Light, Pirelli and AT&T.

Circuit of the Americas nearing completion

COTA President Steve Sexton is proud of what Austin has to offer, and commented, “Racing enthusiasts from around the world will converge in Austin this fall to celebrate the return of Formula One racing to the United States, and we want to throw a Texas-sized party to show our guests what makes our city special!”

For visitors, the public transport services will be extended to make sure they make it in time to the circuit. The Capital Metropolitan Transportation Authority will add a bus line that will travel to and from Austin-Bergstrom International Airport (ABIA) and downtown Austin every 15 minutes, the service will be available from November 15-19 and a ticket is only one dollar. In addition, there is also a free downtown circulator bus, which will run until 2:30 a.m. every 15 to 20 minutes.

If you are a Formula One driver or a member of a Formula One team, and you have plans to arrive by plane, you have to make a parking reservation, as all aircraft operators planning to land and park at the ABIA, have to make reservations to ensure there is enough ramp space available, and ABIA therefore has set up a parking reservation system.

According to the Austin Business Journal, it is recommended ‘all international flights entering Austin should contact the Austin U.S. Customs and Border Patrol Authority no later than 30 days before the desired arrival date’.

And speaking of Customs, there’s also a list a of items you cannot bring to the track: Alcoholic beverages, animals, bicycles, scooters, skateboards, skates, segways, golf carts, coolers, thermoses or ice chests; fireworks, explosives and glass or metal containers; and also no guns, knives, pepper spray, handcuffs and nightsticks.

The organisers of the US Grand Prix expect 300,000 visitors, the COTA recently joined the Green Sports Alliance, an alliance made up of more than 40 international professional and collegiate sports teams and about 90 sports venues that work with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and other green experts to improve their environmental performance.

Also present in Austin: Aerosmith, and they are just like Formula One ‘Living on the edge’

The race is on – Circuit of The Americas passes FIA inspection

By Berthold Bouman

Great news for the American Formula One fans, as FIA’s Safety Director Charlie Whiting has given the green light for the United States Grand Prix on November 18. Whiting has given the Circuit of the Americas (COTA) the FIA seal of approval after his latest inspection, and has given the circuit the Grade 1 status, the highest grade a circuit can get, which means it has been approved for Formula One racing.

FIA’s Charlie Whiting inspects the Circuit of the Americas

Whiting was impressed with the progress that has been made. “Everything that I’ve seen so far has been absolutely first class, and the progress that’s been made since the last time that I was here is amazing,” Whiting said. “The guys have done an awesome job — it really is quite fantastic! It’s built to the highest quality, exactly as we expected, and I’ve got absolutely no complaints whatsoever.”

Whiting personally walked the complete now fully paved 3.4 mile circuit for a closer inspection. Everything was checked: the asphalt, kerbs, guard rails, safety barriers, run-off areas, debris fences and other safety measures. Whiting was especially happy with the layout of the circuit and its turns.

“There are 3-4 corners that are very likely to see overtaking,” said Whiting. “If you look at Turn 1, you’ll see that the turns have been designed so that they’re extremely wide and the apex is very short. It’s a very modern approach to slow corners where we hope overtaking will take place. So I’m very confident it will work well.”

And his favourite part of the circuit? “Turn 1 is awesome! It’s the only word I can think of to describe it, and I think drivers and teams coming here for the first time will say the same thing,” he said. Whiting also visited the pit and paddock facilities and the Race Control building, where Whiting and his team will be housed during the race.

Whiting will be back in Austin for the final approval on Monday, November 12, as the remaining landscaping and painting projects will be completed in a few weeks time. The COTA was designed by German Hermann Tilke, and is the first purpose-built Formula One circuit in the United States.

Bob Bondurant takes a lap around the Circuit of The Americas

Time lapse video of the construction of the Circuit of the Americas

Another milestone: Circuit of the Americas begins final paving process

By Berthold Bouman

Last week Grand Prix Journal reported the Circuit of the Americas (COTA) had finished the very first layer of the race track, this week COTA announced they have begun with the final paving process of the track of the purpose-built Formula One facility situated South-East of Austin, Texas, the circuit will host the FIA Formula One United States Grand Prix on November 18.

Circuit of the Americas begins final paving process

The paving will include the final layer of the race track, but also includes paving the venue’s access and service roads and the walkways around circuit. A major undertaking and in a statement the COTA said, “A paving project this large and complex requires acute attention to detail to ensure the finished surface can accommodate varying weather conditions, as well as high performance vehicles racing at extremely high speeds throughout the year.”

Circuit Vice President of Public and Community Relations Julie Loignon said, “This is an exciting milestone in our construction process, and will help us quickly transform Circuit of The Americas from a construction site into a working sports and entertainment facility.”

And she added the circuit is confident to obtain the Federation Internationale de l’Automobile (FIA) Grade 1 status, which means the track is also fit for Formula One, “Our paving team, which is comprised of Austin Commercial, Tilke GmbH and a variety of subcontractors, has extensive experience in projects requiring this extreme level of detail, and we’re confident the end result will be a Grade 1 racetrack that puts Austin on the world motorsports map.”

The statement further read, “The pavement material itself has a unique composition compared to that used for public roadways. It is required to be highly skid-resistant for the type of vehicles driving on the track, as well as the high speeds being reached. The composition ensures consistency of texture, smoothness of ride, and the conformance to the specifications outlined by motorsports governing body, the FIA.”

The COTA has also announced 1978 Formula One World Champion, 1969 Indy 500 winner and four-times IndyCar title winner (three under USAC-sanctioning, one under CART), and now COTA’s official ambassador Mario Andretti, will drive the very first lap on the new circuit.

“I said it a million times and I will continue to say it: the Formula One fan base in the United States is very much understated and I think it will be embraced now to have a proper, solid home. Something that you can look forward to every year and not just move around. This now is solid. Formula One fans can now rejoice, in my opinion, as we now finally have a home,” Andretti said earlier this year.

And the veteran driver added, “I think that there are many youngsters in the United States who could start to dream about racing in Formula One. But they would need some help — some sponsors to get behind them to land seats in top teams — not just be there, but to have real chances for results and to give the sport a real chance to get popular. An American in Formula One will be good for Formula One – and it is good for America. It’s win-win.”

Mario Andretti and Alexander Rossi

And two of those Americans who dream of racing in Formula One are actually already very close to it: Alexander Rossi and Conor Daly. Rossi is already involved in Formula One as he is Caterham’s test driver and drove the Caterham F1 car during Friday morning practice for the Spanish Grand Prix and he will also make his appearance on Friday morning during the United States Grand Prix.

Of course the 20-year old Rossi can hardly wait until November. “It is difficult to put into words now, but I’d say it would be ten times cooler than what I dealt with in Spain. There is a lot of pride in driving out the pit lane and onto the track as an American as Formula One returns to America,” he said. “The Austin layout looks fantastic as they tried to incorporate some of the best corners in Formula One into the one track.”

Daly is currently participating in the GP3 series, and he is equally enthusiastic about the new track. “I was there about a year ago to check out the facility at the Circuit of The Americas. It is really fantastic to see that it is all progressing. I know that everyone in Europe has been excited about going to the United States,” said Daly.

There are still tickets available for the Formula One United States Grand Prix, visit for more information.

US GP Update: Circuit of the Americas completes first track layer

By Berthold Bouman

A lot of good news from the Circuit of the Americas, the host of the American Grand Prix on November 18. On August 2 the circuit reached another milestone: the entire first layer of pavement around the Austin track has been completed, a process called ‘marrying the track’. The crew started at Turn 20, then worked their way through the starting grid and up the hill to Turn 1, from there worked their way around the circuit and have now returned to Turn 20 again, completing the first layer.

Circuit of the Americas construction progress, July 2012

It required a lot of preperation before the first layer could actually be laid, in a statement a circuit official said, “About ten feet of Central Texas clay was excavated the entire length of the track. A black poly material 30 millimeters in thickness was then placed along the length of the excavated portion. This material acts as an envelope for layers of select fill to be placed so that it remains exactly in place.”

Gantries and pedestrian bridges are now finished and work continues on installing the guard rail from Turns 1-15 and from Turns 18-20. The construction team is currently working on finalizing the interior of the pit lane building and the main grandstand on the start-finish line.

According to Circuit President Steve Sexton, the circuit also will install state-of-the-art safety equipment. “Circuit of The Americas was designed to be one of the most sophisticated, innovative facilities of its kind, and making sure our participants and patrons have a fun and safe experience is our No. 1 priority,” he said. “We are making the investment in TecPro Barriers and Geobrugg Fence because they are the very best protective systems used in the motorsports industry, and they will be an important part of our on-track safety program.”

The TecPro barriers will be installed instead of the usual tyre barriers, and the three-layer wall barrier is capable of absorbing the impact of a vehicle travelling at 125 miles per hour while keeping the g-force experienced by the driver to tolerable levels. A debris fence will also be installed, according to the COTA ‘the Geobrugg Debris Fence is the only fencing system worldwide that is fully designed to provide the highest safety and incredible installation speed by virtue of its optimized material and design’.

Circuit of the Americas construction progress, July 2012

More good news as all the general admission tickets are sold-out. Geoff Moore, Chief Marketing Officer at COTA stated, “Worldwide fan interest in the United States Grand Prix has been remarkable, with guests in every U.S. state and 37 foreign countries purchasing tickets since our public sales began three months ago.”

And Moore added, “We’ve allocated the maximum number of tickets we feel comfortable selling in our general admission areas to ensure guests who will be viewing
the races from the grassy berms and numerous public spaces have a great experience and easy access to services and accommodations.”

Tickets for the grandstands are still available, but it is expected those will sell out soon, so if you want to attend the inaugural race on November 18, you can still purchase tickets via the COTA official website: