The Circuit of the Americas in Austin, Texas was built to hold the United States Grand Prix and first appeared on the F1 calendar in 2012.
The idea for a race in Austin was conceived by Tavo Hellmund, who formed the initial plan for the track with motorcycling world champion Kevin Schwantz.
F1 track designers Tilke engineering created the finished design which draws inspiration from Silverstone’s Maggots and Becketts sequence early in the lap, and Istanbul’s turn eight later on. Another of the track’s distinctive features is the steep climb towards turn one.
The Circuit of the Americas was the tenth different circuit in America to hold a round of the world championship, but the first time a track had been purpose-built for Formula One.
Circuit of the Americas track views
For a modern-day circuit with lots of run-off, they’ve done the best job possible. They’ve created a track that’s safe but managed to ensure it’s still fun. It’s probably the best overtaking circuit on the calendar.
COTA is a really interesting engineering challenge. It has a mix of fast corners, a long straight and a slow-speed section, and getting the compromise right between these different challenges is the key to maximising your performance.
The first section is very fast and flowing, through which the car needs a very good front end. You end up putting the aero balance some way forward to help the driver through here. That’s all good and well, but immediately after these fast corners you have a heavy braking area and it’s absolutely essential to get that right. You need to maintain the DRS time delta to the car in front because what comes next is a 1km (0.62-mile) straight and a really good overtaking opportunity. So even though you may have set up the car for the high-speed section, you need to make sure that it has the rear stability to allow the driver to attack the low-speed corners. It’s a classic compromise that’s difficult to get right.
Tim Goss, McLaren technical director
The track is incredibly impressive. When you see Turn 1 for the first time it really surprises you. It’s even steeper than the Raidillon at Spa as it climbs more quickly in a shorter distance. You know about it when you are doing the track walk – it looks like a wall rising up above you, and you are definitely breathless at the top. When you do manage to get there, you go into the complex of flowing fast turns. Along with Maggots-Beckett-Chapel at Silverstone and the Esses in Suzuka, it is one of the best sections of track of the season.
Now there has been a lot more racing at the track the surface has rubbered in and I think every driver loves pushing through this complex, even though the first year we visited they compared it to a skating rink as there was so little grip.
Cedrik Staudohar, Renault Sport F1 team leader for Toro Rosso
Circuit of the Americas track data
*Fastest lap set during a Grand Prix
Data sources: FIA, Williams, Mercedes