United States Grand Prix Formula One preview
Red Bull Racing
TEAM NOTICE BOARD
For the full Team Notice Board please open the attachment below…
Mark Webber: “Regarding the new track, it’s unproven in terms of what we need to do with the car there. We will have a reasonable idea before we turn a wheel, but we’ve got to get into the nitty-gritty from our simulations. We need to see track temperatures and how the asphalt is for the car in terms of grip – we’ve got a lot of unanswered questions which we only learn on Friday, but the layout looks awesome. It’s probably one of the best layouts of the year in terms of being challenging for the drivers and the cars. I’ve been to Austin a few times, I’ve got some buddies there. It’s a really vibrant city, similar to Melbourne, and I know the locals are going to really embrace it. They obviously have the huge music festivals and they pull those off really well in terms of the organisation and getting everyone around.”
Sebastian Vettel: “I think it’s great that we are travelling to the United States again. I have been in the simulator learning the Austin track; how it flows and getting a general feel for it. What we know from designer Hermann Tilke is that the hallmark of the circuit will be the big differences in altitude within a lap as the highest point is expected to be 40ft higher than the lowest point. The site has natural elevation changes, which promises a fast course with difficult corners for us to familiarise ourselves with. It was also important to the designers that the fans in the stands could see a lot of the track and see the cars for a good amount of each lap. The track has 20 corners and we go anticlockwise.”
Vodafone McLaren Mercedes
2012 United States Grand Prix preview
Circuit Of The Americas facts & stats
Formula 1 returns to the United States next weekend for the first time since 2007. The race takes place on the purpose-built Circuit Of The Americas, just outside Austin, Texas, and simulations of the layout at the McLaren Technology Centre suggest it’s going to pose an interesting technical challenge to teams and drivers.
The circuit, designed by Hermann Tilke, is one of five anti-clockwise tracks on the 2012 calendar. It has 20 turns (12 left-handers, 8 right) and an elevation change of 41 metres. The highest point on the lap is Turn One, which has a steep uphill approach mimicking the famous Turn One approach of the old Österreichring. The remainder of the lap is a mix of undulating sweeps, high-g corners and long straights. Downforce levels are expected to be similar to Silverstone’s, with a top speed of 315km/h.
The final layer of asphalt was laid at the end of September, so the surface is expected to be very green and slippery early in the race weekend. As rubber from Pirelli’s Medium and Hard compound tyres is left on the racing line, grip levels will improve. Our forecasts put an average laptime around the 1m38s bracket.
Lewis won the last grand prix on US soil, at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway back in 2007, and both he and Jenson will be looking to return to the podium on Sunday.
- Race distance 56 laps (191.947 miles/308.896km)
- Start time 13:00 (local)/19:00 GMT
- Circuit length 3.427 miles/5.516km
- 2011 winner N/A
- 2011 pole N/A
- Lap record N/A
McLaren at the United States Grand Prix
- Wins 11 (1976, 1977, 1982, 1982, 1983, 1988, 1989, 1990, 1991, 2001, 2007)
- Poles 8 (1976, 1977, 1988, 1989, 1990, 1991, 2003, 2007)
- Fastest Laps 10 (1975, 1976, 1982, 1983, 1983, 1984, 1988, 1989, 1990, 2000)
Car 3: Jenson Button
- Age 32 (January 19 1980)
- GPs 226
- Wins 14
- Poles 8
- FLs 8
- 2012 points 153 (6th)
- US record 2007 Q13 R12; 2006 Q7 R-; 2005 Q3 R-; 2004 Q4 R-; 2003 Q11 R-; 2002 Q14 R8; 2001 Q10 R9;
- 2000 Q6 R-
“Visiting a new circuit is always an interesting challenge. You approach it in a very different way from a track you’ve visited before – Thursday’s trackwalk and those first laps are all about exploration and understanding as you gather information from lots of different sources in a bid to build up a complete picture of the track and what’s required to get the best from it.
“On paper, the circuit looks to have a little bit of everything – the plan-view certainly looks familiar; you can see elements of the Maggotts/Becketts complex from Silverstone; there’s a reverse of Istanbul Park’s Turn Eight, too; and I can even see a bit of the Hockenheim infield, too.
“Whether those elements will blend together to make a satisfying whole remains to be seen, but there are a couple of long straights into tight corners, too, which should at least open up the possibility of overtaking.
“I think we’re in for a fantastic weekend – I really cannot wait to get out to Austin and see the city, the people and the track. I think it’s going to be brilliant.”
Car 4: Lewis Hamilton
- Age 27 (January 7 1985)
- GPs 108
- Wins 20
- Poles 25
- FLs 11
- 2012 points 165 (5th)
- US record 2007 Q1 R1
“It’s crazy to think that the last United States Grand Prix was five years ago! It’s a race I still remember like yesterday, though – the nervy anticipation as I drove into the Speedway for the very first time, the thousands of supportive fans, and the fantastic car I had beneath me that enable me to take my second grand prix victory in the space of a week. For me, those were incredible, thrilling times.
“I have to admit – I’m absolutely made-up that we’re going back to the States. It’s a fantastic country and a place where our sport truly deserves to be. I think the Circuit Of The Americas looks like it could also be the place that modern Formula 1 finally calls home. I’ve only driven it on the computer and in the sim, but I think it’s going to be a track that drivers enjoy, which produces some great, close racing, and which fans will quickly love.
“This is a new circuit, a new challenge and a new opportunity – I’m definitely looking to be the first grand prix winner at the Circuit Of The Americas.”
Martin Whitmarsh – Team principal, Vodafone McLaren Mercedes
“I’ve always maintained that Formula 1’s presence in the United States is crucial, so I’m personally pleased and satisfied that we’re finally returning to America after spending far too long away from its shores.
“On a wider level, the arrival of a state-of-the-art, purpose-build grand prix track is perfect for Formula 1, and this is a golden opportunity for the sport to finally put down roots and find a long-term home. From a business perspective, too, we are in the right place at the right time. This is an invaluable commercial opportunity for the sport, for Vodafone McLaren Mercedes and our partners.
“With Lewis, we won the last grand prix to be held in the United States back in 2007. After a strong, but ultimately disappointing, performance in Abu Dhabi last week, I know that both Lewis and Jenson head to Austin, determined to pick up the baton and return us to the top step of the podium.
“This should be a great race for Formula 1.”
The Circuit Of The Americas is new to Formula 1 in 2012, but the United States Grand Prix is almost as old as the world championship itself. Here’s how McLaren has defined 12 days in the history of the race:
December 12 1959 (Sebring)
A victory for McLaren, but not for McLaren! Our founder Bruce McLaren takes his first GP win in the 1959 season-finale, driving a Cooper-Climax. The 22-year-old passes world champion Jack Brabham in sight of the finish line to become F1’s youngest winner – a record that would stand for 43 years.
October 10 1976 (Watkins Glen)
James Hunt starts on pole for McLaren, but is beaten away from the line by Jody Scheckter. The pair quickly build up a convincing lead, lapping at record pace, until James wrestles the lead from the South African on lap 46 of 59. He controls the race thereafter and comes home 8s ahead of Scheckter. Jochen Mass is fourth in the second M23.
October 2 1977 (Watkins Glen)
James wins the US GP East for the second consecutive year, starting from pole and winning by 2s from Mario Andretti. James gets too much wheelspin away from the line, resulting in Hans Stuck beating him into Turn One. When the German spins out on lap 15, James is left with an untroubled run to the flag.
April 4 1982 (Long Beach)
Niki Lauda wins the third race of his comeback with McLaren. He starts second and spends the early laps behind pole-sitter Andrea de Cesaris, before passing the Italian for the lead on lap 15. He dominates the remainder of the race, finishing 14s ahead of Keke Rosberg’s Williams.
June 6 1982 (Detroit)
Niki and John Watson qualify 10th and 17th respectively, but the MP4-1 is the car to beat in race trim. Watson is up to 13th on lap seven and he passes Keke Rosberg for the lead on lap 37. Lauda tries to make it a McLaren one-two, but he crashes while trying to pass Rosberg for second.
March 27 1983 (Long Beach)
Tyre warm-up issues hinder both McLarens in qualifying and they qualify 22nd and 23rd. Warmer weather on race day improves grip levels and the pair charge through the field together, Niki ahead of John. On lap 33, John passes his team-mate and the Ulsterman takes the lead on lap 45. They finish one-two, more than 45s ahead of third-placed Rene Arnoux.
June 19 1988 (Detroit)
Ayrton Senna takes his sixth consecutive pole position, ahead of team-mate Alain Prost, and is never headed in the race. Alain has to work hard to make it a fourth one-two for McLaren in six races; he drops behind Thierry Boutsen at the start and has to force his way past the Belgian on lap six. He finishes 40s behind Senna.
June 4 1989 (Phoenix)
Ayrton takes pole for the first GP in Phoenix, ahead of Alain. In roasting hot conditions, the Brazilian takes the lead at the start of the race, before retiring with electronics trouble. That leaves Alain to cruise to victory ahead of Riccardo Patrese and Eddie Cheever.
March 11 1990 (Phoenix)
Gerhard Berger takes pole in his first race for McLaren, while Ayrton starts fifth. Gerhard suffers clutch problems in the race and it’s up to Ayrton to take the fight to race leader Jean Alesi. He’s on the Tyrrell driver’s gearbox by lap 33, but Alesi puts in a spirited defence. On lap 35 of 72, Ayrton takes the lead and comes home 8s ahead of the precocious Frenchman.
March 10 1991 (Phoenix)
Ayrton kicks off his ’91 campaign with an emphatic victory. Using a Honda V12 engine for the first time, he takes a dominant pole position and is never challenged in the race. He comes home 16s ahead of Prost’s Ferrari.
September 30 2001 (Indianapolis)
The last victory of Mika Hakkinen’s illustrious career. He starts fourth and his progress towards the front is helped when both Williams’ retire with mechanical problems. He drives a strong middle stint to come home 11s ahead of Michael Schumacher. David Coulthard finishes third in the other MP4-16.
June 17 2007 (Indianapolis)
Lewis Hamilton’s second victory in as many weekends, after he dominated the Canadian GP the previous weekend to take his first win in F1. The race is a Vodafone McLaren Mercedes benefit: Lewis and Fernando Alonso lock out the front row, Lewis taking pole by 0.1s. The race is nip and tuck between them and they’re separated by just 1.5s at the flag.
Mercedes AMG Petronas F1 Team
2012 UNITED STATES GRAND PRIX, CIRCUIT OF THE AMERICAS, 16-18 NOVEMBER, PREVIEW
Formula One returns to the United States of America next week with the penultimate round of the 2012 Formula One World Championship to be held at the purpose-built Circuit of the Americas on Sunday 18 November.
- Austin is the 10th venue for a F1 race in the USA (after Dallas, Detroit, Indianapolis, Las Vegas, Long Beach, Phoenix, Riverside, Sebring and Watkins Glen)
- Simulations suggest the circuit has more corners over 250 kph than Spa and more below 100 kph than Hungary
- A qualifying lap time of around 97 seconds (1:37) and a race lap time around 102 seconds (1:42) are predicted
My wife and I have been big fans of the USA, and also of Texas, for many years so I’m particularly looking forward to the race in Austin. I’m really excited to see what kind of track we will find and to see if the American fans will embrace our sport. From the pictures and layouts of the circuit that I have already seen, everything looks very good. I think Formula One will put on a good show at the Circuit of the Americas, and naturally I will be giving my best to be a part of that.
It will be very exciting to race in the USA again and I’m really looking forward to our visit. The United States Grand Prix should be a great event and a real show for our American fans. I can’t wait to drive on the Circuit of the Americas track for the first time in practice next Friday. I spent some time practising on the simulator at the factory this week so I know what to expect and, as a team, we are as well prepared as we can be from our simulator work. The track looks cool with a great double S section to begin the lap and it looks like there should be some good opportunities for overtaking. We really want to end the season on a positive note so we’ll be aiming to score some points next weekend.
We are very pleased to see Formula One returning to the United States for the first time since 2007, and the team are looking forward to visiting Austin and the Circuit of the Americas next week. Visiting a new circuit for the first time is always a significant engineering challenge, and we have been working hard at the factory to prepare for the weekend. The team have done over five race distances on the simulator to assess the layout, gradients and G forces. The track layout looks quite varied with a high-speed twisting section in the first sector, elevation changes with an uphill approach to the crest of turn one, and a slower, more technical section at the end of the lap. Nico was in the sim yesterday to complete our preparations and his feedback, along with that of our other sim drivers, will be used to prepare for the Friday practice sessions next week.
It is five years since we last visited the United States and there is a great sense of anticipation in Formula One to be returning to a custom-built, state of the art venue at the Circuit of the Americas. A new circuit offers a new challenge for the teams. The circuit will provide a real test for the cars and drivers: it’s not a bland venue but rather a demanding layout with significant elevation changes. It contains an extremely demanding first sector, with a challenging series of high-speed corners and, throughout the lap, you can feel echoes of other great tracks around the world. Our sport has always enjoyed a very dedicated audience in the USA; their knowledge is impressive and they have always given Formula One a very warm welcome. It is an important step to return to the United States for our sport and its image. The USA is the biggest market for Mercedes-Benz cars in terms of sales and a race in the USA belongs in a world championship. The circuit looks to have exactly the right ingredients for an exciting weekend and we look forward to delivering a great race for the American fans.
Lotus F1 Team
Lotus F1 Team previews the nineteenth and penultimate race weekend of the 2012 Formula 1 season.
Drivers Kimi Räikkönen and Romain Grosjean share their thoughts on the United States and what they expect from the Circuit of the Americas, Team Principal Eric Boullier reflects on a memorable weekend in Abu Dhabi and Technical Director James Allison discusses the challenges of preparing for a brand new race venue.
The preview also contains a guide to the Circuit of the Americas, key facts and figures of the United States Grand Prix and all the latest news from Enstone.
Kimi Räikkönen: “We did it!”
With win No.19 tucked away in Abu Dhabi our very own comeback King looks ahead to another new event in a country he knows and loves
Firstly, what are your thoughts after taking the win in Abu Dhabi?
We did it! It took us a while, but we did it. All the work by the team came good and we were able to show what we knew all along; we have a car that can compete at the front. And more than that, we can win. Why do you think the win finally came? We didn’t give up. We had a period where new developments for the car weren’t working exactly as wanted straight away and when you have to test new parts during practice sessions it’s very difficult to make progress, but we kept pushing. We continued with the exhaust developments we made during practice in Korea and India and the pace was promising all weekend in Abu Dhabi. I was never out of the top ten all weekend and with that in mind I think we had a good idea that we could be competitive if we could just get qualifying right, which has been the big issue all season long. This time though, we got it right. Is it good that you’ve answered that ‘when’s the win coming’ question? I’ve never cared really what people think – if I don’t finish the next race, then they’ll think that I’m as bad as that race. I’ll just do my thing, and if I’m happy with what I’m doing and it’s the best it can be for the team, then that’s that. So it doesn’t really bother me if people are thinking differently of me now, than what they did three hours before the race. How are you looking forward to racing at the Circuit of the Americas? It will be the third new circuit for me this year and most of all, a brand new place for every team and every driver as well. Korea and India were both new to me, but I had seen the previous races on TV. I don’t know anything about Austin, just the name Circuit of the Americas. I have always liked to go to new places as it adds a bit of additional excitement. I’m particularly looking forward to this one. I like the American atmosphere, it’s just a relaxed environment; they know how to have fun and, most of all, they love racing. What’s your previous experience of racing in the US? I competed in seven Grands Prix at Indianapolis. Unfortunately the one time I felt I had a really strong car there was in 2005 when only six cars raced and I wasn’t one of them. I did get pole position in 2003, but none of the races are ones I remember well. Last year I tried NASCAR. I did two races on the Charlotte oval and I really liked it a lot. That was probably the experience I needed to open my eyes for racing again. After that I really wanted to come back to Formula 1, while it was a tempting idea to do more NASCAR, too. After seeing the excitement of the American NASCAR fans I hope Formula 1 gets people as eager to enjoy our racing in Texas, too. You made some comments about radio messages from the pit wall in Abu Dhabi – can we expect something like this in Austin? Yes, apparently there were a few of our radio messages broadcast on TV and I think in those moments you could hear how much I just wanted to keep my head down, do my job and win the race. All I needed to know was the gap to the guy behind me. I think you can probably find other messages from me in the car if you search YouTube; even from my short time in NASCAR. The win came just after you’d been confirmed for 2013; it’s a good endorsement? It’s a pretty good way to show that everyone’s made the right choice. We’ve shown all season how good we can be, and in Abu Dhabi we showed we can win. There is more to come. I promise.
Romain Grosjean: “The win was unbelievable for the team”
He’s never been to the States before, so there’s a whole lot more to learn than merely a race circuit, but trackside is where Romain Grosjean’s focus lies
What’s your experience of the US?
I’ve never been to the USA before, not even for a shopping trip to New York! It’s going to be a new experience in many ways. In actual fact, I did try to make a quick visit after the Canadian Grand Prix but there wasn’t time in the end. I’m sure it will be a big journey of discovery for me; a new country, a new culture and of course of a new race track which is always something I like to experience. What do you know about motorsport in the States? NASCAR is of course very famous, and I think we can learn things from the show that it puts on for all the fans, as it’s very impressive. The Indianapolis 500 is another event that everybody knows too. I hope that all the fans we meet in Austin are as enthusiastic as seen at these other events. Lotus F1 Team have been around the circuit with Jérôme – has he told you about it? I’ve spoken to Jérôme so I have a little idea of what to expect. On top of that I’ve worked with simulations of the track, and it’s easy for me to play Xbox when I am travelling so I can get an idea from that too. I don’t think it will be the easiest circuit to learn and there are a few fast corners which look like they will be a challenge. The first corner certainly looks to be good fun. This is the first of the third and final back to back pairing over a nine week period to end the season – how gruelling is this schedule? It has been hard work as we have travelled to a lot of places. Sometimes you wake up in your hotel and you have to ask yourself which country you are in?! This is the same for the whole team; from the drivers, to the mechanics, engineers, hospitality personnel; everyone. We’re all looking forward to having a rest at the end of the year, but there are an important two races to go; let’s hope we get some more good points. The last race didn’t go as you wanted… For me it wasn’t one of the best days, but for the team it was a fantastic day with the win for Kimi. It was the win we were waiting for and it’s unbelievable for the whole team. I was running pretty well and could have finished with good points too. Unfortunately Sergio [Perez] returned to the track in the middle of a battle he was having and he wanted to use the part of the track I was on. There was nothing I could do as you can’t make your car disappear. Sergio was penalised for the incident and it did mean we saw another safety car period. Mark [Webber] was caught up in it too, but he didn’t have any stern words for me this time. How good was the feeling for the team to finally have a win? It was unbelievable for the team. It had looked as if the chance of a win was escaping from us, but we’ve kept pushing and the top step was a fantastic reward. Kimi did a fantastic job. The car is there and although this race wasn’t the one we were expecting to win, we did. Hopefully the good results continue, starting in Austin.
Eric Boullier: “I hope we get used to it very soon”
With the celebrations from Abu Dhabi having subsided, Team Principal Eric Boullier reflects on the achievements of Lotus F1 Team so far and the opportunities which lie in the future
How was the response to the victory in Abu Dhabi?
I received over four hundred messages at the track after the chequered flag! It was a pleasant surprise to see that a few of them were coming from our rival teams saying how happy they were for us. It was nice to hear that people in the paddock thought we deserved the victory. Also, standing on the podium as Team Principal of the winning constructor was something really special. It was a very emotional moment. I hope we get used to it very soon. What was the feeling at Enstone once you returned to the factory? People are happy and have a new spring in their step; even if the weather outside the factory is very cold now! There’s a fantastic feeling of excitement and we have two races yet to go. We did it once and we can do it again this season. It took us time to get this win but we all knew that we could do it. It did arrive at a time when more and more people start working on next year’s car, which is good timing.
Is it in some ways an even stronger endorsement of the team for the victory to come so late in the year as it shows Lotus F1 Team can keep the development battle going season-long?
Our team is far from having the biggest budget on the grid, but I see it as an advantage. It forces us to be clever and it is one of Enstone’s trademarks. Bringing upgrades in October which made our car faster again and catching the best in the sport on pace proves that this team can deliver. Talking of delivering, Kimi certainly did the business behind the wheel?
This was maybe a surprise for anyone on the outside of the team that doubted him, but for everyone on the inside it was not. Kimi has certainly made his mark and shown that he’s back in Formula 1 and back at his best form. Having him back getting podiums and a win is great for him, great for the team and great for the fans. Moreover, “Leave me alone, I know what I’m doing” has already become a Formula 1 classic!
How difficult was it for you on the pit wall seeing his lead disappear with the safety car then watching Fernando [Alonso] relentlessly hounding him to the end?
It was certainly the longest race of my short Formula 1 career! The last twenty-two laps in particular were very long. We could see that Kimi had built and was continuing to build a nice gap but the safety car destroyed that. He built a gap again at the restart, but then Fernando started closing meaning that the last lap was quite scary.
On the other side of the garage can Romain take heart from the pace in the car?
Romain had another learning experience in Abu Dhabi, but he showed that he could deliver well with the strategy we chose after changing tyres following the puncture he received on the first lap. He exited the race because of being in the wrong place at the wrong time.
How does it feel for Formula 1 to be heading back to the States?
We as a team are very happy to be returning to the USA especially as we strongly believe that it’s a market where Formula 1 should be. We already have some American partners, so it’s good to be racing in their home country. It a land of tremendous opportunity for Formula 1 and we hope to build on this opportunity in the future. Also, we took part in the opening ceremony of the track two weeks ago, and the buzz it has generated was quite surprising. I’m sure that America likes Formula 1 more than people think.
Fourth in the championship was our target for the season – we now have more than double the points of the fifth-placed team. Is that a good endorsement of where we stand looking ahead to 2013?
Fourth was obviously the target we set ourselves at the start of the year and that’s where we are in the standings right now. Obviously, you can be fourth and close behind third position, or fourth and just in front of fifth. Our position relative to fifth-placed Mercedes is quite flattering. Being fourth and fighting with teams like Ferrari and McLaren – by having a win on the board and a number of podiums – has clearly put us in a position where we could develop a stronger image of a team growing and maturing; a team on the up. This is certainly appealing from a commercial point of view and the numbers of partners joining us this year is a proof of that. On the other hand, fourth is still fourth, and we know how much harder we need to push in developing our resources and the company to ensure we can break into the top three next year.
James Allison: “Austin provides a much sterner test of the car”
Entering the nineteenth of twenty races in the 2012 season, Technical Director James Allison outlines what’s still to come from the car and why the race in Abu Dhabi came good
How difficult it is heading to a circuit that’s never been raced on before?
It’s certainly more difficult than going to a circuit which we have raced on before! The good thing is that it is a level playing field in that regard – no team has raced on the Circuit of the Americas before. For the engineers it’s a bit more of a challenge not knowing the peculiarities of the circuit. We know the layout of the track and there are a good number of simulations we can do such as suspension settings, wing levels, gear ratios, but the idiosyncrasies will need to be worked on at the track itself. What’s the state of play with upgrades? Are there more to come? We are still experimenting with the latest evolution of our Coandă system. This delivers the same downforce as the one we introduced in Korea and used in the Abu Dhabi race, but does not sap as much power from the engine. We trialled this evolution in Abu Dhabi, but opted to go for the known quantity of the Korea-spec. Now we have the young driver test behind us, we are confident that this evolution will assist with around an extra six horsepower for the last two races of the season. We also have a little aero upgrade to the front wing too.
Why did everything come together for the team in Abu Dhabi?
Since we upgraded the car with the Coandă exhaust system in Korea, the E20’s actually been pretty decent. It maybe hasn’t looked that way in Korea and India as we were trapped behind other people, but the pace of the car in the races has been strong. In Abu Dhabi, Kimi was making very confident sounding noises before the race as he was happy with the car. What we needed was an adequate result from qualifying to give us half a chance, and then a good start. We got both of those; Kimi did a cracking lap in qualifying, there was a bit of good fortune with Sebastian [Vettel] going to the back of the grid, then a bit more good fortune by Webber having a poor start. It was the first race for a long time where we could run the car in free air near the front of the grid and – hey presto – we won the race. Austin should be at a similar downforce level to Abu Dhabi, so should we do well there? It’s a similar overall downforce level used on the car, but it’s a very different circuit from the Yas Marina. There is a much wider range of corner types. Austin has a series of flowing fast corners which doesn’t exist in Abu Dhabi, then there are some slow chicanes which do. The diversity of corners means that it’s a much sterner overall test of the car. However, if we look at other tracks that test the car in this comprehensive manner, we’ve been pretty good.
How useful was the young driver test?
We were able to evaluate three drivers and get different input for the car which is always useful, but primarily the test allowed us to calibrate our factory based tools we use to assess what is good and what is bad for developing the car. We were able to measure our simulations against reality by performing correlation tests at the track. The young driver test gave us a brilliant opportunity to catch up with the backlog of these correlation tests that have built up over the course of the year to make sure that the design direction we’ve taken from our factory-based tools is not leading us astray. This is valuable as we approach our final two races of the season, but also for design developments heading into next season too.
Tech Talk: USA
1. REAR WING
This will be at a similar level to that used in Abu Dhabi. Maximum speed reached is around 315kph, so it has a long straight, but it’s intermingled with a diverse mix of corners, both high speed and low speed.
We need a suitable brake cooling level to maintain enough heat at the end of the long straight, yet not offer so little cooling that they overheat in the technical section. Balancing temperatures will be the name of the game. No problems are expected in terms of wear.
Kerbs are an area which will not be known until the team arrives at the circuit, when a track walk will highlight any areas needing further contemplation. As a starting point, the Abu Dhabi set-up will be used as it’s a recent circuit with reasonable kerbs. As a counter point, India has very flat kerbs.
The most conservative allocation of the hard and medium compounds will be in use. The new layout and track surface will make trying to unlock maximum tyre performance quite challenging, and the hardest two tyres mean that degradation is unlikely to be too much of a factor in the race.
5. FRONT WING
A relatively high level of front wing is required to counter understeer in turns 16-18 where the car would otherwise push through the turn, killing speed and wearing the front tyres.
Renault Sport F1 has conducted computer simulations and engine dyno running in preparation for this new circuit. More than double the time is spent testing engine maps on the dyno than would otherwise be the case for a ‘normal race’; so approximately four days of dyno running and simulations.
Track Guide: Circuit of the Americas
There is a sizeable elevation change here where the circuit rises steeply and drops away.
TURNS 2 – 3
Two very high speed corners which look to be flat out.
A potential overtaking opportunity following what looks like being a third gear corner at Turn 9, followed immediately by Turn 10 which will be taken flat before heavy braking into this hairpin.
Brakes need to be set-up so they are not too cool at the end of the long straight in preparation for heavy braking into this corner
TURNS 13 – 15
This is a combination of fairly low speed second gear corners. The way it is driven will depend on the kerbs.
TURNS 16 – 18
Front wing levels are tailored to counter understeer in this continuous double apex sequence.
A Long Time Ago, in a Galaxy Far, Far Away…
Austin, Texas, the Circuit of the Americas… an unexplored territory for Formula 1 as the 2012 World Championship battle reaches its epic conclusion.
And so, our very own Luke Skywalker and Hans Solo – also known as Kimi and Romain – take to the tarmac to challenge the Red Bull empire in what is set to be a spectacle like no other.
To commemorate this landmark occasion, Lotus F1 Team has partnered with Angry Birds Star Wars – the latest addition to the billion-plus downloaded range of Angry Birds games – which takes an intergalactic twist to bring fans across the globe a combination of their favourite avian entertainment and the legendary Star Wars saga.
Bold Angry Birds Star Wars branding will appear on the sidepods of both E20’s during this weekend’s United States Grand Prix and that’s not all; to celebrate the launch the game, Lotus F1 Team will be offering fans the opportunity to win a range of fifty stellar prizes, including a day in the team’s state-of-the-art simulator at our Enstone base.
The competition will be based around four playable Angry Birds Star Wars levels available via the team’s Official Facebook Fan Page from Monday 12/11/12, with winners selected at random from all entrants.
MiLo is Go!
While Kimi and the race team were busy clinching victory in Abu Dhabi, Lotus F1 Team achieved another win; reaching a key milestone in the continued progress being made behind the scenes at our Enstone base.
When Microsoft Dynamics signed up as an Official Partner to the team earlier this year, the wheels were instantly set in motion for significant process change at the team’s operational home with the aptly named ‘MiLo’ project.
Centred around the implementation of a customisable system designed to improve efficiency within every aspect of daily operations at the factory, Phase 1 of the ambitious project officially went live on Monday 05/11/12; giving team members in the Finance / HR / Purchasing / Stores departments access to this new and valuable tool.
Phase 2 – which will provide the same benefits to the Manufacturing and Engineering elements of factory operations – is already underway, with company-wide implementation targeted by mid-season in 2013.
The Abu Dhabi Grand Prix provided us with so many great memories; the team’s first win since 2008, the first victory for Kimi on his return and of course… those unforgettable radio messages between the Finn and his engineers. To commemorate this unforgettable evening, a special t-shirt has been commissioned for every member of the Enstone team, with a message that will reverberate around the factory walls for years to come; “Leave me alone, I know what I’m doing…”
The Drivers’ A-Z…
Kimi is a big fan of yachting.
Let’s be honest, there were a few better places that Romain could have picked to crash during practice for the 2009 Singapore Grand Prix…
Our History: United States Grand Prix
Lotus F1 Team made its United States Grand Prix debut in 1989 under the Benetton name, with Italian Alessandro Nannini and British driver Johnny Herbert at the wheel.
The team has taken just two United States Grand Prix podiums to date; the first in 1991 [Nelson Piquet, Benetton] and the second in 2006 [Giancarlo Fisichella, Renault]. Of course, the USA has hosted a number of races outside of the United States Grand Prix banner, of which the 1988 Detroit Grand Prix stands out for Lotus F1 Team; Belgian Thierry Boutsen taking a podium finish for the Enstone squad in its former guise as Benetton.
Kimi has a hat-trick of Formula 1 achievements to his name at the United States Grand Prix, taking pole position and a podium finish in 2003 in addition to clinching the fastest lap of the race in 2007. That elusive win is the only missing piece of the puzzle for the Finn; after a memorable victory in Abu Dhabi, could this be his weekend?
Romain will be making his United States Grand Prix debut this season, but he has proven to be rather handy at picking up news circuits extremely quickly. With the Circuit of the Americas providing a new challenge for the entire grid, let’s see if the Frenchman can take advantage of a level playing field…
In Numbers: Circuit of the Americas
Highest g-force experienced for 4 seconds at T10 and T11
% of the lap spent braking
Total straight per lap (%)
Gear changes per lap
% of the lap at full throttle
Lowest apex speed (kmh) at T11
Distance in metres from start line to first corner
Highest apex speed (kmh) at T3
Top speed (kmh)
Longest full throttle burst (m) between T11 and T12
Sahara Force India F1 Team
2012 United States Grand Prix Preview
Sahara Force India looks forward to the United States Grand Prix. To view the pdf preview click on the link below.
To watch Nico Hulkenberg drive the Circuit of the Americas click on the following link: http://bit.ly/UfT2AD
American GP: Vijay’s Vision
Dr Vijay Mallya looks forward to visiting a new venue for Formula One.
The team picked up points in Abu Dhabi – what was your view on the team’s performance…
I have mixed feelings because we extended our run of points finishes, but on the other hand our two main rivals were ahead of us and scored well. With two races to go Sauber are almost out of reach and Williams are just 22 points behind us. The opening lap was frustrating, but we all recognise that these things can happen in racing. The important thing is to look forward and make sure it doesn’t happen again. Without the problems at the first corner, I’m convinced we could have been up there fighting for some bigger points.
You know the United States well – how important is it for Formula One to be returning there?
It’s such an important market for the teams and the brands associated with the sport so it’s a very welcome return to the calendar. It will be the first time Sahara Force India has raced on American soil and the whole team is excited to be going there. Visiting a new venue always presents us with new challenges, but from what I’ve heard we can expect a first class facility. As for the city, Austin is a friendly place with good hospitality and I’m sure we will receive a very warm welcome.
There has been a lot of speculation about the team’s 2013 driver line-up – when can we expect the team to confirm its plans?
We have traditionally waited until the end of the season to confirm our line-up and I expect we will stick to this schedule. With the state of the driver market at the moment there is no rush to make an announcement. We have a shortlist and will take our time to make sure we have the fastest drivers available in our cars next season.
Nico on Austin
Nico Hulkenberg gets set for racing in Austin.
After a disappointing weekend in Abu Dhabi, how easy is it to bounce back and get focussed on the next race?
To be honest I’m over it already. There’s no point looking back and when you have a bad race it just makes you more determined to get back in the car as quickly as possible.
How excited are you to be racing in the USA?
I’ve not spent a lot of time in America so I’m looking forward to being there and seeing some of the country. I’ve visited New York before, but that’s as much as I’ve done. I love the people and the culture so I’m sure it will be a fun week. We arrive on Tuesday so that gives us a couple of days to explore Austin before we go to the track.
From what you’ve seen so far, what can we expect of the new track?
I’ve driven the lap on a simulator so I’ve got the layout in my head. It’s pretty much an average medium-speed track with a lot of elevation changes. Turns three to six are high-speed with lots of change of direction – a bit like Maggotts and Becketts at Silverstone. There are some big stops and some low-speed sections towards the end of the lap too. So pretty much a bit of everything.
Paul on Austin
Paul Di Resta looks forward to a new challenge at the Circuit of the Americas.
Paul, you were in the points in Abu Dhabi, but there was a sense that you felt more was possible from that race…
It was an eventful race so we have to be happy with the points, given the puncture I had on lap one. I think the chassis change was the right thing to do and definitely improved our performance level. In terms of race pace the car was strong, I overtook a lot of cars and without the puncture we could definitely have had a stronger day.
Both Sauber and Williams also scored in Abu Dhabi. What’s your view on the fight in the championship?
I think under normal circumstances you’d probably say Sauber are out of reach. Williams looked good in Abu Dhabi, but I think we’re in a strong enough position to defend from them. Austin will be an unknown but it’s a new track so it’s likely to be similar to Abu Dhabi with new tarmac and a smooth surface. So there’s every reason to believe we can be competitive there.
How have you prepared for the new track in Austin?
I’ve not done a massive amount, to be honest. I’ve seen some maps of the circuit, but the main preparation will come from my simulator session on the Monday of race week. So I’ll arrive in America with it fresh in my mind.
Sauber F1 Team
Preview – United States Grand Prix
19th of 20 Rounds of the FIA Formula One World Championship, 16.-18.11.2012
For the penultimate round of the 2012 FIA Formula One World Championship the teams and drivers will enter unknown territory. After an absence of four years, Formula One returns to the United States to race on a brand new circuit in Austin, Texas, on 18th November. The unknown factors of the Circuit of the Americas not only add extra excitement to the title battle, but also to the Sauber F1 Team’s fight to close the gap of 12 points to fifth place in the Constructors’ World Championship. Sergio Pérez regards the venue as his home Grand Prix and is looking forward to seeing a crowd of Mexicans there. Kamui Kobayashi is also curious to discover the new track as well as the State of Texas.
Kamui Kobayashi (car number 14):
“I have never been to Texas, as I have only been to New York and Las Vegas in America. I know this will be something completely different and perhaps pretty exciting because Texas is cowboy country, so I hope I can see some of them there. I have had a look at Austin on a google map and it looks nice. This is another new Herman Tilke circuit and he always gives us exciting tracks to have nice races. I have not seen the circuit on a simulator and, in fact, have no idea what it is like. However, it will be okay and a surprise for me. I shall walk the track when I first get there. I don’t know how many laps it will take to learn it, as it very much depends on the track. It can take three, ten or more laps.”
Sergio Pérez (car number 15):
“I am very much looking forward to this race! I think it is the closest race for eight years for me to my home town of Guadalajara. I expect many Mexican Formula One fans to attend and this, for sure, will give me an extra boost. Of course I also hope there will be a Mexican Grand Prix one day, because I am aware of the great enthusiasm for Formula One in my country, but for now I regard the race in Austin as my home Grand Prix. I have no issues about learning new tracks quickly. In my first Formula One season, which was only last year, I had many tracks to learn. I am sure we will have a good crowd there and I definitely want to put in a strong result for both the Sauber F1 Team and myself.”
Giampaolo Dall’Ara, Head of Track Engineering:
“Going to an unknown circuit always requires a bit of extra work in advance. Along with all the other teams we have been supplied with the relevant data about the Circuit of the Americas. We implemented a simulation for the aerodynamic configuration of the car, gear ratios, braking systems and, more generally, for a baseline set up. A rather unknown factor is how abrasive the tarmac will be. In this regard we rely on Pirelli and the tyre allocation they decided to go for, which is the medium and hard compounds. Unlike at circuits we are very familiar with, you will probably see a bit more driving in the first free practice session to double check the set up and, of course, to allow the drivers to learn the track. The lap begins with an uphill straight leading to corner one and then to a number of high speed corners. This part, I think, should suit our car best. After a very tight left hander we will have a long straight followed by a couple of slow speed corners and a multi apex long right hander before arriving back on the start finish straight.”
Scuderia Toro Rosso
United States GP Preview
- When: Friday 16 – Sunday 18 November, 2012
- Where: Austin, America
- Round: 19 of 20
Mark Gillan, Chief Operations Engineer: On the back of a good result in Abu Dhabi the whole team is really looking forward to the last two races of the season. We will be pushing hard right to the end with further updates in order to try to secure seventh position in the constructors championship. As this is a new track, with no historic database of information to call upon, it places even more importance on one’s circuit simulation tools and simulator to ensure that we’re fully prepared in terms of both car set-up and proposed run programme. Pirelli bring their hard and medium tyres and as normal for any new track one will need to be careful on analysing the track versus the tyre evolution when making strategy predictions.
Pastor Maldonado: After a good performance in the last race in Abu Dhabi I’m looking forward to getting in the car again and seeing what we can achieve in Austin. The team has worked very hard to get the car back to the sort of pace that can consistently challenge for points and that is what we will be looking for in this race. The track is new so it will be challenging to get the right set up, but that is the same for all the teams. It looks like a fun and challenging track to drive from the work we have done in the simulator and the American fans should bring a really good atmosphere as well.
Bruno Senna: I’m excited to go to Austin because I’m hearing lots of good things about the track. It has both high speed and technical sections so it will be tricky to learn for all the drivers and it’s always interesting to see how drivers cope with a new layout and new corners they haven’t driven before. The weather can be very varied in Texas as well, with lots of wind and drops in temperature so that could be a factor. The car has definitely come on a lot in the past few weeks so we take good momentum into this race.
Rémi Taffin, Head of Renault Sport F1 Track Operations: Austin looks like it will be a very interesting circuit. It has replicated some of the most challenging corners we have visited, including the Suzuka Esses and Turn 8 from Istanbul. There are also several gradient changes over a lap, particularly in sector one, which features a blind apex that will really push the drivers. Going to a new track requires a lot of simulation on the dyno in advance, more than double the amount of time we would spend for a ‘standard’ race, but we may even spend longer than this, as with such variety of corners, we expect that the RS27 will be given a full workout.
Paul Hembery, Pirelli Motorsport Director: For our first visit to the circuit of the Americas we are bringing the P Zero Silver hard tyres and the P Zero White medium tyres. Based on the track inspection we carried out recently, and the simulation data we have generated, these compounds should be best suited to the unique demands of the Circuit of the Americas. We’re anticipating quite a high-speed circuit that will put plenty of energy through the tyres, while getting good traction will also be another important consideration. The weather at this time of year should be warm and dry but rain is certainly not unheard of so we will have the Cinturato Green intermediate tyre and Cinturato Blue full wet as well. Coming to a new circuit certainly presents its challenges for us but last year nearly every circuit was new to us, so it’s not something that we are worried about at all.
United States Grand PrixView
Heikki Kovalainen, car 20, chassis CT01-#03: “COTA looks like a great circuit. I’ve spent a day in the simulator preparing for it so I know how it flows and they’ve taken the same approach as we saw in India, adding in up and downhill sections with some really quick corners and a couple of heavy braking zones where it should be possible to pass other cars.
“I think one of the key things to how successful the weekend will be is how the American fans take to the race. We’ve obviously been there before and there’s a lot of other racing that US fans are very passionate about, but F1 has changed since we last raced there and we know what it takes to put on a show so I think it’s going to be really good.
“Aside from the race weekend it’ll be good to go back to the US as I’ve always enjoyed myself there. Quite a few of my golfer friends either live out there or have houses in America so hopefully I can get a round or two in and have a little bit of the lifestyle they enjoy out there. It’s going to be busy as we have quite a few sponsor functions, and I’m taking part in the FOTA Fans Forum on Wednesday evening in downtown Austin, but the only thing I need to make sure is that I don’t put on any weight! The food in the US is really good and I’ve heard they do pretty big steaks in Texas, so my physio will be keeping a close eye on how much I’m enjoying myself off track!”
Vitaly Petrov, car 21, chassis CT01-#02: “I’m really looking forward to visiting America, both for the race but also because it’s my first ever trip to the USA and it’s always been my dream to go to the States. This time I probably won’t get enough time to have a proper look around but I’m definitely going to make sure that when we come back here I have a few clear days to really see what it’s all about.
“I think all the drivers are excited about getting on track. It’s a new challenge and from what I’ve seen in the simulator it could be a really special track. There’s a lot of elevation changes, a few blind corners where it’s going to be tricky to find the apex and quite a lot of the lap is high speed. From what I’ve seen of our schedule the whole weekend is going to be very busy for us – we have a lot of important sponsors in America so it’ll be pretty intense, on and off track, but I think it’ll be one of the best weekends of the year.”
Alexander Rossi, Caterham F1 Team Test Driver: “First it’s obviously fantastic that COTA is bringing F1 back to the US and as I’m a real F1 fan at heart I’m really excited about the race coming to Austin. COTA have done an amazing job on the track. It’s going to be a great challenge for the drivers and they’ve also made sure the whole weekend is worth staying for, not just the sessions on track but the whole event.
“As our team’s Test Driver I know that the main thing is that Austin is a new circuit and the race drivers need as much time as they can on track to prepare for qualifying and the race – as a race driver I’d want exactly the same in their position. For me the weekend will be a great chance to work with our team’s partners and the fans to show them what my world is like. I’m an ambassador for our Premium Partner GE so I’m going to be bringing their guests right into the heart of F1, as well as taking part in events like the FOTA Fans Forum on Wednesday night at the Hilton Hotel in Austin. It’s going to be an incredible week, in the build up to the race and on race day itself, and I’m going to be working hard to help introduce a lot of very important people to our team and F1 as a whole.”
HRT F1 Team
United States Grand Prix Preview
The Formula 1 World Championship leaves Asia after five consecutive races in the Orient and it does so to return to the United States for the first time in five years. The city of Austin in Texas will host the United States Grand Prix for the first time from the 16th to the 18th of November at the brand new Circuit of The Americas. The first ever Formula 1 United States Grand Prix took place in 1959 at the Sebring International Raceway in Florida with Bruce McLaren of Australia taking the win. This will be the 33rd edition and the sixth different circuit to stage the race. Therefore, Pedro de la Rosa and Narain Karthikeyan arrive in uncharted territory, like the rest of the drivers and teams, meaning that adapting as soon as possible will be vital, something that they have successfully done on numerous occasions this season.
The Circuit of The Americas is a medium-high downforce track and not too demanding on the brakes. There is a forty metre elevation change on the straight before the first corner, which is a blind downhill left-hand hairpin which will test the ability of all drivers. However, the biggest question mark is regarding the behaviour of the tyres as that is the only factor that the simulators can’t predict.
Pirelli has elected its medium and hard tyres for this Grand Prix.
Pedro de la Rosa: “The truth is we don’t know much about this circuit. All I know about it is from what I’ve seen on the Internet. The first thing that strikes you about this track is the number of gradient changes and how extreme they are. The important thing is for our car to adapt well to this circuit and we will dedicate Friday to learning the track and setting up the car. The choice of medium and hard tyres seems, on paper, an election of quite hard compounds. But until we don’t confirm the grip of the asphalt it will be difficult to draw any conclusions”.
Narain Karthikeyan: “The Circuit of The Americas looks like a promising layout, lots of parts from different circuits around the world but what I’m looking forward to most is the massively uphill turn one. These gradient changes do well to add to the circuit’s character as we’ve seen in India so it is going to be a challenging layout. So as a driver, it would be up to us to do the maximum number of laps possible on Friday to learn the circuit and get the base set-up right and then take it from there. I raced in Formula 1 the last time it was in America, back at Indianapolis in 2005 and then NASCAR in 2010 and I really enjoyed racing there; the fan following is huge. So it would be great to see Formula 1 being successful in such a promising market and hopefully with this new facility and an entertaining circuit, it will happen soon enough”.
Luis Pérez-Sala, Team Principal: “Once again we’re heading to an unknown circuit, so the key will be to learn the circuit and adapt as quickly as possible. All we know about this circuit is what the simulation department, who have been working on it for some time, have put across to us. According to them it’s a very complete and spectacular track and that gives us extra motivation to face this penultimate test of the season. It’s been an intense end of year but I’m confident that we can finish off on a good note which will enable us to make a positive overall assessment of this special season”.
Marussia F1 Team
What we’re saying about the 2012 United States Grand Prix
Circuit of The Americas, Austin, Texas
16-18 November 2012
All you need to know >>> Race date 18 November…Laps 56…Circuit length 5.516 km…Race distance 308.896 km…20 corners, 11 left-handers, 9 right…Promises to be a real gem of a circuit…Run in an anticlockwise direction in common with Singapore, Korea, Abu Dhabi and Brazil…The steep, uphill run into the hairpin Turn One is set to become one of the stand-out features of the track…Team simulations show Turns Three to Six to be reminiscent of Suzuka…There is a familiar stadium feel to Turns 12-15…Turns 16-18 reflect the much-loved multi-apex Turn 8 in Turkey…The challenge for Pirelli – their most complex track of the year as the asphalt has never been raced on before…Tyre nomination Pirelli PZero Silver Hard and White Medium… Last time F1 raced in the US – 2007. How good does it feel to be back? – Awesome!
F1 has been Re-‘born in the USA’ as Round 19 of the FIA Formula One World Championship next weekend sees the sport return ‘stateside’ for the first time since 2007. A brand new racetrack – ‘The Circuit of The Americas’ – has been constructed in Austin, Texas, which is familiar territory for many of F1’s elder statesmen, who will have interesting memories of going racing at the Dallas Grand Prix of 1984, won by Keke Rosberg.
The circuit is the first purpose-built F1 facility in the US; the last time the sport raced here the host venue was the Indianapolis Motor Speedway in Indiana. The 5.5km (3.4 mile) track was designed, naturally, by architect Hermann Tilke and, much like the Buddh International Circuit, it draws inspiration from a collection of the best circuits around the world. Another strong parallel can be found in the dramatic elevation changes resulting from the site’s natural topography; at some points those changes differ by as much as 40 metres.
Timo Glock, Driver #24
“Going to Austin is a really big thing for the sport and everyone involved. The first race back in the US will be quite something for us. It’s a new track for all of the teams, and already it looks awesome on the simulations we have experienced and the images we’ve seen. I’m really looking forward to it a lot and I hope the organisers and fans have a great first race bringing F1 back again; I know we will enjoy being back in the US. I can’t wait to arrive early next week and have my first real view and walk of the track. Should be an amazing weekend.”
Charles Pic, Driver #25
“The US GP is high on the list of races I have been most looking forward to in my debut season. From what I have seen, the track is spectacular and the layout seems very interesting from a technical point of view. We spent some time in the US – in New York actually – in the summer after Canada, helping to promote the new race. The reaction amongst the fans and media was overwhelming and although I didn’t get to race in the States before, they certainly look happy to have F1 back. It will be great to be a part of that. As for our objectives, there is a lot to think about as this is a new race, but we need to keep pushing hard to maintain our current momentum versus Caterham – in qualifying and the race – and ensure we leave town with 10th in the Constructors’ still firmly in our grasp. Should be a great weekend.”
John Booth, Team Principal
“The whole team is looking forward to what, for us, will be our very first US GP. It’s a landmark race and we’ll embrace every minute of the experience, hopefully finding a little bit of time along the way to soak up some of the Texan sights and sounds. The Circuit of The Americas promises to provide a fantastic racing experience for the drivers and the fans. The attention to detail with the preparation of the track is evident and the organisation has so far looked second to none. From our simulation work we can see the parallels with some of the features of other great tracks on the calendar, so we are confident that it’s a circuit the drivers will enjoy racing at and the engineers will find a pleasing challenge. The ‘unknown quantity’ factor will be very exciting for us, as no one will have the advantage at the start of FP1 on Friday, so it will be all about how good a job we all do from there onwards. This track represents a significant challenge for Pirelli, as they have had only asphalt samples and simulations with which to calculate wear rates and the effects of likely ambient temperatures. Last weekend’s race in Abu Dhabi had us on the edge of our pitwall seats at various points, as it reminded us that to hold on to 10th in the Constructors’ Championship, we cannot control what happens further up the field, ahead of our own private duel with Caterham. We have to continue closing that gap and find the momentum to get ahead of them on track. We’ve come very close in recent races, despite their KERS-advantage, and we’ll remain in dogged pursuit of this objective right up until the chequered flag in Brazil.”
The United States Grand Prix from a tyre point of view:
Austin, 16-18 November 2012
A BRAND NEW CIRCUIT FOR PIRELLI AND THE FORMULA ONE TEAMS
What’s the story?
Milan, November 12, 2012 – The Formula One teams and Pirelli take a step into the unknown this weekend with the inaugural United States Grand Prix at the Circuit of the Americas: a newly-built track that has never been raced on before.
The Italian firm is bringing the P Zero Silver hard and P Zero White medium tyres: a reasonably conservative compound choice for a circuit where there are still a number of unknown factors when it comes to tyre performance. The teams will be given an extra set of the hard tyre for Friday’s two free practice sessions in order to help them learn the all-new track.
One sure thing is that the Texas circuit will be fast and challenging, with warm ambient temperatures adding to the mechanical demands placed on the tyres. The 5.515-kilometre track features varying elevations that alternate slower and more technical sections with other areas that are very quick. Initial information suggests that the track surface will be quite smooth.
The opening sector of the lap is particularly demanding, with a uniquely profiled hairpin turn one and then a rapid sequence of direction changes from turns four through to six: reminiscent of Silverstone or Spa. This puts a lot of energy through the tyre structure, particularly the outside tyre that has to withstand the majority of the cornering forces. Traction is also a vital aspect of tyre performance in America in order to find optimal grip coming out of the slower corners.
With no data from previous years to fall back on, Pirelli has used advanced simulation technology to predict how the tyres might behave on the Austin circuit. The teams will also use similar data when it comes to formulating some initial ideas about race strategy; however the information gained from free practice will be even more vital than usual. Teams will be aiming to collect as much tyre data as possible on both full and empty fuel tanks and the extra set of hard tyres should enable them to maximise their running.
Pirelli’s motorsport director says:
Paul Hembery: “Austin is one of just three new tracks for us in Formula One competition this year, alongside Bahrain – which we’ve tested at previously – and Hockenheim, where we previously raced in GP3. So in many ways America will be the biggest challenge for us of the year, but stepping into the unknown is a situation that we are used to: last season the majority of tracks were completely new to us. We’ve chosen the hard and the medium compounds as we think it will be quite a demanding track, based on the asphalt samples and simulation data we have gathered. Naturally we’ve leaned towards a slightly more conservative choice in order to cover every possibility at a brand new circuit, but the tyre choice in Abu Dhabi was also conservative and yet we saw one of the most exciting races of the year. We’re all absolutely delighted to be returning to America with Formula One: it’s a crucial market for us as well as being the home of many of the most enthusiastic fans out there. We’ve felt a huge buzz about this race, and with the championship so finely poised it couldn’t come at a better time.”
The men behind the steering wheel say:
Mark Webber (Red Bull Racing): “I was in Austin after the Brazilian Grand Prix in 2006, catching up with some friends over there and I remember it as a really cool city. I remember there were lots of great options for food, everyone was pretty laid back and didn’t take themselves too seriously: it was nice to just have that sort of relaxed atmosphere in the city. I’ve heard from my guys out there that everyone is pumped and excited about the race being on. Formula One traditionally has been very dominant in Europe so it’s good that we are going back to the States. We know there’s a huge number of motorsport fans in America, as you have big categories like NASCAR and Indycar; even some of the dirt track stuff is huge. The track looks pretty quick: it’s got some very fast changes of directions, left-rights and fifth/sixth gear stuff, which is not hanging around for us. It looks like they’ve done a really good job and there are lots of undulations, which is important. With a new track there are always things we don’t really know until we get there, such as the subtleties of the cambers of the corners, which we will find out about on Friday.”
Pirelli’s test driver says:
Jaime Alguersuari: “I don’t know anything at all about the Circuit of the Americas – I’ve only ever seen some photographs and videos – but it looks like a great track and a lot of fun to drive. It’s clear that all the teams have good knowledge of all the Pirelli tyres now, so I would say that understandably the hard and the medium tyres are quite a conservative choice, but of course this depends on many other factors such as the macro-abrasion of the surface in Austin. We could be looking at a one-stop race although there are other outside circumstances that can always affect this, such as safety cars and the weather. A new track often shakes things up a bit, so I’m sure it will be interesting.”
Technical tyre notes:
- As Austin is a brand new circuit, the surface is likely to be ‘green’ and slippery, with a high degree of track evolution over the weekend. A totally new track often has a thin film of greasy oil on the surface, which is released by the asphalt as it settles into place. The race length will be 56 laps.
- Turn 11 is also particularly demanding in Texas as the driver starts braking heavily with the car already turning, creating an uneven distribution of forces across the tyres. Good grip from the compound is essential for an effective turn-in.
- The cars are likely to run with low gearing and medium downforce, with the set-up not expected to be dissimilar to that of Istanbul Park in Turkey.
- The weather can be uncertain in Texas at this time of year, with a 31% chance of rain on any given day on average. The month of November is characterised by rapidly falling daily high temperatures, with daily highs decreasing from 25°C to 19°C over the course of the month, exceeding 29°C or dropping below 13°C only one day in 10.
The tyre choices so far:
|PZero Red||PZero Yellow||PZero White||PZero Silver|
Pirelli in the United States:
- America is a key market for Pirelli, where the full range of P Zero tyres is sold for Ultra High Performance vehicles, as well as a unique P4, P6 and Cinturato P7 ‘Four Seasons’ range for year-round motoring. Pirelli also sells its complete line-up of premium winter tyres in the United States: Winter Sottozero, Winter Carving and Winter Snowcontrol.
- Pirelli’s American headquarters is located in Rome, Georgia – which also houses a Research and Development facility along with a factory that uses the patented MIRS (Modular Integrated Robotised System) process. However, 90% of Pirelli tyres sold in the United States are actually made in Latin America.
- The Georgia plant produces approximately 400,000 tyres per year. By 2015, Pirelli’s total production in the American continent is expected to rise to 3.9 million tyres. The tyre market in America is growing by an average 2.1% per year.
- Pirelli hosts the GP Challenge game in America: a hugely popular online fantasy Formula One game where participants have to predict race results, fastest laps and quickest pit stops to win some big prizes. Among the expert predictors on Pirelli’s panel is Bruce Knox, executive vice president of the Circuit of the Americas.
Other news from Pirelli:
- At a recent two-day GP2 test in Barcelona, Luca Filippi topped the times for Coloni using Pirelli tyres. At the Estoril GP3 test that followed it, also exclusively equipped by Pirelli, David Fumanelli was quickest for MW Arden.
- The final round of the Pirelli-backed WRC Academy, the Rally of Spain, was won by local man Jose Saurez in a Ford Fiesta R2. Suarez used both Pirelli’s gravel and asphalt rally tyres on the mixed-surface event.
- From 1 November, the new European tyre label became law throughout the EU. All new tyres sold now have to carry a label that gives consumers independent information on tyre performance and safety. Pirelli’s Cinturato P7 Blue (inspired by the Formula One wet weather tyre) is the first tyre on the market to score a top ‘AA’ rating on the European tyre label.
- Pirelli recently celebrated its 140th birthday, with the Italian tyre company being founded in 1872. To mark the occasion, Pirelli’s chairman and CEO, Marco Tronchetti Provera, was received by the President of the Italian Republic, Giorgio Napolitano. Giovan Battista Pirelli started the company when he was only 24 years old.
- Pirelli’s P Zero fashion range has launched the ‘paddock’ sneaker, inspired by Formula One. This latest product features a grippy sole with a grey and blue suede exterior, reminiscent of a racing shoe. Finishing it all off is the famous ‘long P’ Pirelli logo, in the style of an overall patch.
Renault Sport F1
Mark’s United States Grand Prix Preview
The return of the United States Grand Prix brings back happy memories for Mark because it was at Indianapolis in 2003 that he led a grand prix for the first time. This year the race is being staged at the all-new Circuit of the Americas in Austin, Texas, and Mark hopes to be leading on American soil once again.
“It’s exciting to be at a new racetrack,” says Mark. “I’ve done about 60 laps of the circuit on the simulator back at base and it feels like a good layout. I hope we’ll be competitive. There are lots of elevation changes and some quick sections, which should suit our car, but track temperature is as important as layout. You need to get the black things in the corners working properly and we’ll only know about that once we start running on Friday.”
The track is the seventh venue on this year’s calendar to be designed by Hermann Tilke, but he took a lot of advice from teams and drivers ahead of finalising the details. The result is a layout that takes inspiration from other racetracks around the world.
“The cars are going to look quick through sector 1,” says Mark. “There is a nice series of corners that mimick the Maggotts-Becketts complex at Silverstone. Some people think this sector is like the Esses at Suzuka, but I think it’s more like Silverstone because there aren’t the camber changes that you get in the Esses.
“There’s also a triple apex right-hander, which looks pretty quick. That will be quite high-g through there, so we’ll really feel the car working underneath us through there. My only reservation about the track is the number of overtaking opportunities. I think we’ll be relying on the DRS to pass people into Turn 12; that’s the main chance.”
Mark enters this penultimate race of the season on the back of four consecutive front row starts. He’s hoping for another competitive showing in qualifying on Saturday, but he’ll be hoping to get off the line better than he did in Abu Dhabi two weeks ago.
“The clutch bit too much at the last race and that lost me a few positions,” says Mark. “The idea is to qualify at the front and then make use of that at the start, which is what we’ll endeavour to do this weekend. I want to stand on the top step again before the year’s out.