In 2012 the reemergence of the United States Grand Prix at the Circuit of the Americas was without doubt one of the big stories of the year.
However, as we have found out with the Indian Grand Prix, it takes more than one good year to make a new race a success and also does not set a precedent for a bright future.
As a result the F1 world will be watching with great interest at just how well the second edition of the US Grand Prix in Austin goes and whether it can produce another brilliant race like it did last year.
There is no doubt the facility at the Circuit of the Americas is one of the most impressive in recent times, from it’s great layout to the fantastic viewing areas and the tower that provides a unique landmark and even better view of the entire circuit.
Certainly it provides a brilliant base for F1 to finally have a home in the USA and put on the kind of show that can finally make the sport a big success across the pond.
Last year Lewis Hamilton won his second consecutive race in America, after winning the final race at Indianapolis, by beating Sebastian Vettel in a straight fight at the inaugural GP at Circuit of the Americas.
While the battle at the front was compelling it was the brilliant racing throughout the field on the challenging layout that caught most people’s attention and made it one the best races of the year.
The circuit features a number of sequences taken from some of the best tracks in the world, the steep climb to turn one is similar to that at the Red Bull Ring while corners three to seven are taken from the Maggotts and Becketts complex at Silverstone.
Turn’s 12-15 were inspired by the stadium section at Hockenheim with 16-18 a right handed version of Istanbul’s turn eight.
The circuit then asks plenty of the car and the driver, the long straight to turn 12 requires good straight line speed while the tight and twisty area requires good traction, the sweeping curves at the start of the lap call for good downforce and precision, any mistake at one corner and it is exaggerated throughout the rest of the complex.
Interestingly though for all the corners taken from classic circuits, turn 19 is perhaps the most difficult corner on the track, after rounding the long triple apex right, turn 19 is a medium speed left hander where you need to carry as much speed as possible, last year many drivers found themselves on the run-off on the outside as they underestimated the challenge of the corner.
Certainly looking ahead to this weekend it looks like another easy weekend for Sebastian Vettel, not only does his car suit the medium speed, sweeping corners but Vettel is very good in the slow speed traction zones so any driver who can stay close will have driven very well indeed.
This track could also have been very good for Lotus, tyre wear played a key part on what was quite a gripless surface last year but with Kimi Raikkonen out it seems Romain Grosjean will be the only man realistically leading the charge for the Enstone team this weekend.
McLaren were particularly strong here last year, I would expect them to be in a good battle with Mercedes and Ferrari this year, while Sergio Perez is not only under extreme pressure to keep his seat for 2014 but this is a ‘home’ race of sorts for the Mexican.
Mercedes will be very quick in qualifying though tyre wear that could cost them in the race, given Lewis Hamilton’s record in the USA you can’t rule him out however.
Ferrari may struggle as downforce has been their key weakness and of course if they lost Fernando Alonso, who is struggling with back pain, it could be a very difficult weekend in their battle for second the Constructor’s championship.
Nico Hulkenberg will also be up there for Sauber while team-mate Esteban Gutierrez will lock horns with Force India, Toro Rosso and Williams for any points position at the tail of the top ten.
Marussia and Caterham will also be battling hard at the back, early weather forecasts do predict rain could play a part so this could be their best chance for a while to battle for 10th in the Constructor’s with Max Chilton’s 13th place early in the year still the best result.
Overall however it promises to be a very exciting weekend on the track and lets hope the interest continues and the fans can make it a great party of the circuit too!
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