Vettel-Alonso title race adds spice to US GP
There has been a lot of talk this week about how Formula One needs the United States. I do not see an American race as essential. We have survived this long with only intermittent forays into the world’s richest market although there is no doubt a successful United States Grand Prix would be a massive, massive boon for the sport. For that reason everyone out here is getting pretty excited as the weekend approaches; downtown Austin is buzzing, the team’s hospitality units are groaning and the marketing men are salivating almost as much as the drivers. I can see why: the Circuit of the Americas looks mouth-watering.
I first came out here on a promotional trip last year and drove a demonstration car around what was then basically a huge dustbowl. Red McCombs, the Texan billionaire who has largely bankrolled the £250 million project, invited us out to his ranch and laid out his vision to us. He has been as good as his word. The Circuit of the Americas is like a ‘supercircuit’; an amalgamation of favourite corners from other tracks around the world. I have been critical of Hermann Tilke-designed circuits before but he has really listened to drivers this time.
There are plenty of elevation changes, a magnificent, blind apex hairpin at Turn One, a high-speed sequence of turns resembling the Maggots-Becketts section at Silverstone, and further nods to circuits such as Hockenheim and Istanbul. The question now is whether that potential can translate into great drama.
There do not appear to be many overtaking opportunities but when you have a title race poised as it is this weekend, with Sebastian Vettel trying to put 15 points between himself and Fernando Alonso to secure a third successive championship, and the Spaniard applying his considerable reserves of grit to force the battle on to Brazil next week, it can’t fail to be exciting.
The track looks fairly well suited to Red Bull, and I would expect Fernando to have to drag his car up through the field again, but as we have seen so often this season he has been well capable of doing just that.
American race fans may be more interested by what is happening in Homestead, Florida, this weekend — where the Nascar season, in an unfortunate scheduling clash, also reaches its climax — but in this land of opportunity I am hopeful that Formula One will grab its big chance and leave our hosts wanting more.
- Sunday Standard