Category Archives: Circuit of the Americas

Getting an American Driver Back in F1 with Mario Andretti

The Marussia Garage sits empty this weekend at Circuit of The Americas

The Marussia Garage sits empty this weekend at Circuit of The Americas

As Circuit of The Americas track ambassador, world champion Mario Andretti spoke to me last year about Alexander Rossi’s return to FP2, and what that meant to him to see an American return to F1 during a Grand Prix weekend on US soil after a 6 plus year absence.

It’s now a year later, and Formula 1’s economic climate has left Alexander without a current team or a former team, let alone a drive, and fans continue to look for signs that an American will get behind the wheel in the near future.

Given the current state of affairs, I started off asking Mario how he would engage American fans about the sport this weekend and to speak to their desire to see an American drive at Circuit of the Americas:

“Can you imagine what it would do to the interests of this event if Mercedes would say, ‘OK, we’re going to have Alexander Rossi as our guest driver this weekend in his home country’?   At least leave that option open. . . “

Mercedes had no official comment, but off the record it was made clear what would be involved to allow someone outside a team a test, as development and driving in top teams go hand in hand today at every race, and mainly with the two best racing drivers a team can hire.  Seat time for a reserve driver alone is very limited, so giving a weekend drive to a someone from outside the team at a Grand Prix would seem very unlikely given the value of the track time permitted teams.

Times have changed, but it’s clearly not just about the ability to get any drive in F1, according to Mario, who spoke from his own experience:

“… I say this because that’s how i started my career, as a guest driver and I was very successful at it, so a driver [like Alexander Rossi] could surprise a lot of people by being in the car that’s actually competitive, not a Marussia, not a Caterham but a car thats actually competitive.”

He went further to say: 

“It could open up a whole new world for a driver like himself and the possibilities . . . and the good thing about this is that option is there to exercise, and I hope that sooner or later it will be exercised because it’s beneficial to everyone, it can be beneficial to the series, period.  In every possible way, I don’t see any negatives, thats why I’m talking about it.”

More from Mario shortly, but how do you think Formula 1 can do a better job getting American talent on track here at home?

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Filed under American F1 drivers, American F1 Fans, Circuit of the Americas

Around Austin from Town to Track this Week

The Start/Finish on Wednesday afternoon at Circuit of The Americas

After their first year together, Austin and Circuit of The Americas are ready to create a brand new season of F1 racing, events and experiences for fans from around the world.

To get a feel for what was different this year from last, a walk around the town and then the track yesterday left the distinct impression that this year is different, especially in Austin, a city that’s no stranger to world class events, and this year, no stranger to Formula 1.

Downtown welcomes F1 fans

The amount of signage around the airport has been reduced, but in town, buses, lamp posts and billboards remind you that F1 is still everywhere.   Downtown Austin is transforming with a sense of urgency and after a year of racing with over 1,000,000 guests at COTA and counting, F1 fans will again see the Austin Fan Fest arrive.  Larger than last year, the event will now include a dozen square blocks set aside for visitors between 2nd and 5th just West of Congress.

Importantly, local businesses have embraced the racing community, and this year there are more shops and stores showing they are ready for the world stage as fans arrive from across the globe to discover what Austin has to offer.

@delish bakery downtown

Evenings will be full of events with entire nightclubs in town that have made the trip to Austin for the weekend hosting drivers, celebrities and VIPs.  New to Austin this year, Amber Lounge will be celebrating their 10th anniversary as a nightspot along F1’s most glamorous races with dancing and DJs all weekend, while the W Austin and Red Bull will be putting together events for the circuit’s official after party on Sunday with drinks like the newly christened COTA Flame featuring locally made spirits with a kick.

These are just a sampling of events Austin has in store this weekend, and back at the main event, Circuit of The Americas looks and feels like a new experience altogether.  Gone are the signs of a hasty retreat by heavy equipment and artificial grass on hillsides as the circuit now stands proud on the horizon in the distance with real grass throughout the infield and spectator areas.

Having the seasoning and polish an entire year’s worth of improvement and events to showcase the vision behind COTA, the circuit truly is the racing circuit of the future, bringing the world together again for a weekend of world-class racing.  Here’s to wonderful Grand Prix weekend in Austin.

An international audience for F1 has arrived in Austin

For a self-guided tour of what’s been created on the track, you can take a look around COTA turn by turn with Google Maps to see what a driver’s office view looks like, and for a look at what’s happening around town, F1 Racing Magazine’s Fan Guide is downloadable (.pdf) from the American Statesman.

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Filed under Circuit of the Americas, Events, F1 in America, Uncategorized

Greetings from Austin!

Circuit of The Americas

Before writing about what’s happening at and around this weekend’s historic United States Grand Prix, a round of congratulations are in order for the enormous efforts of Circuit of The Americas, Tilke Engineering GmbH, and to the people of Austin for their vitality and enthusiasm in creating a new home for Formula 1.

This is the third visit I’ve made to Austin since 2011, and it’s been a pleasure to meet so many locals along the way.  From the people directly involved with the circuit who have come so far to produce this inaugural race to those who’ve shared their home town and passion for making this year’s race a success, Austin is truly a special place, and I’m looking forward to experiencing the only GP like it in the world.

Several events around the race should be of particular interest, starting with Wednesday’s FOTA fan forum for US fans to meet and ask questions with key personnel, drivers and personalities in Formula 1.  Follow @F1US for live tweets beginning at 6:30pm EST from the panel discussion.

To cover Austin in more detail, a separate twitter account has been created for localized tweets and news from the circuit as well as out and about in town.  Follow @F1Austin for news of special events, updates, and retweets from everyone as Austin gears up for a special weekend.

Finally, F1 in America was mentioned in this month’s Red Bulletin – check out the December issue in print and online.

– Peter Habicht


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Filed under American F1 circuits, American F1 Events, Circuit of the Americas, F1 in America, United States Grand Prix