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Exclusive: Onboard lap of new US Grand Prix circuit, Austin Texas
Posted By: James Allen  |  27 Aug 2012   |  7:52 am GMT  |  95 comments

This is something a bit special, a chance to see what the cars will look like as they drive the new Circuit of the Americas in Austin, Texas.

The circuit is still under construction, ahead of its inaugural Grand Prix on November 18th, but we’ve got together with official F1 game developer Codemasters to drive this lap. It is driven on the final launch version of the F1 2012 game, by Codemasters Creative Director Stephen Hood, with comments from him and from JA.

The track is 5.51km (3.42 miles) and features 20 corners. Designed by Hermann Tilke it has a bit of everything, including plenty of high speed corners and has several parts very reminiscent of the Istanbul track in Turkey, albeit without quite as much elevation change. Like Istanbul is anti-clockwise and the lap length is similar, just 200 metres longer.

The opening part of the lap also features a series of corners like Maggotts/Becketts at Silverstone and there is a hairpin leading onto a long back straight, leading to another tight corner, similar to Abu Dhabi. This is where the DRS zone should be, so there should be plenty of overtaking.

Track map: FIA

Final paving is underway at the circuit, which is due to be inspected by the FIA’s Charlie Whiting on September 25th, ahead of the scheduled race date.

What do you think of the track? Leave your comments below.

*You can hear more about Codemasters new F1 2012 game, including an interview with Creative Director Stephen Hood, in the next edition of the JA on F1 podcast next week.

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yeap, the end of the pit straight is steep and the turn is blind, it flattens as you get to the top and start cutting towards the apex. I had the chance to watch FP2 from there and there are a few ways to attack the turn, the best seemed to brake ~60m before and cut through the apex sharp getting ready for the fast right-handed turn 2. Impressive to hear the cars downshifting and breaking quite fast..lots of uprevving…quite a show the race start will be, very likely someone is gonna brake too late and bump a few cars in front. Hope Alonso already paid all his DNF this season


If Alonso wins, there will be a minimum of 3 points between him and Vettel


wait A MAXIMUM of 3 points


Is Mr Tilke the only designer allowed near F1? Apart from the first corner which will kill you as soon as look at you (Eau Rouge with a v12) it seems as exciting as Yas Marina. Lovely on telly if you don’t mind no passing


WOW! It looks amazing for me, I guess there are many opportunities for overtaking, maybe one of the best circuits, although time will tell.


80 miles away. Biggest F1 fan in the world. Gee, sure hope I can go.


Looking good! Both the new track in Austin, and the superb graphics on the game!


My personal thoughts on Windows 8 are quite negative and I am not a fan of the direction Microsoft is taking. The Release Preview feels as if Microsoft has ignored most of the negative feedback and keeps pushing for their vision. The improved desktop elements such as explorer & task manager are a great improvement however for a home or work desktop, the metro start-screen IMO is not suitable. My reason for this is the lack of customizatiion it has. Users such as me have become familiar with the start menu and have watched it evolve for years. Tablets should use metro, desktops should use the typical start menu.




Surprised that they posted such a scrappy lap for a presentation. Those tight bits are gonna be trip up zones for sure.


Ha! I thought the same thing. Run a few laps first and get the hang of it before you present. 🙂


Seems awfully like Abu Dhabi to me, at least there is some hills though. I will reserve judgement till the race though!




The most interesting thing about this track is how the scenery is going to be in the future. Is it going to be “asphalt as far as your eye can reach” or something better for the eyes?

Layout just like we expected, I think. It is funny that only some 10 years ago, F1 fans could joke about oval racing like “they only have to turn left ” etc. When was the last time we saw a new circuit without a standard “hairpin- long straight like a ruler- hairpin” combination?

There must be different ways too. Just for change, set up Blanchmont or bent backstraight of Estoril together leading to Rivazza, to make heavy braking zone. Or the regulations for circuits are just so…demanding that every new circuit must mimic the previous ones as much as possible? Doubtful.


The car physics in the video looks unrealistic, too smooth. Was it controlled with a keyboard?


For those who doubt that Tilke truly had very little to do with the layout of the track, check out this early drawing by Tavo Hellmund:


It’s an absolute gold mine of a look into his thought process—it’s basically like a schoolboy’s drawing in class, creating his fantasy F1 track, stitching together all of his personal favorite corners. Whether it adds up to a coherent whole is a matter for debate, but I can’t help but imagine Tavo with a huge grin on his face and giddy delight as he drew this up. (My favorite detail is the comment in the bottom from Bernie. Looks like we have him to thank for the long backstretch.)

It was published by the Austin Statesman accompanying this article, which gives even more insight into the design process:



Thanks very much for sharing that. Very interesting. It’s also clear that in translating these ideas, Tilke has brought in some of his signatures and driving the track on Codemasters game it feels very much like Turkey in parts.


That first corner has Maldonado accident written all over it!


Looks very real on the video; but it’s a frightening clone of Tilke’s (lack of) imagination. Shirley, they’ll have a bit of overtaking here and there with a little help from the DRS. The only way it can be seen as positive is the return of the American race, for sure, you know. Plenty of F1 fans out there (in the US) who are tyred of watching this stuff on telly or invading Canada/Brazil for a bit of F1 fun.

Think F1 folks need a new approach, go back to the roots when people would just show up and build a racing circuit for the sake of doing it and sheer pleasure of experiencing a decent race. Now it’s all social media and useless PR, think imma be sick, if you’ll excuse me.


We should just go capture Brazil so we can have Interlagos. And the beaches of Rio, too, come to think of it!


No need to do that: just stage US Grand Prix in Portimão. Will cost less than bulding a proper new circuit. American spectators can me imported, that’s not an issue these days with cheap air travel.



went through the memory lane and watched youtube videos of your commentary… we miss that



Agreed! Brought back the memories, as does this. Great commentary! “Mr. Raikkonen”. Must tune in to 5 live this weekend. Many thanks James.



Listen to Radio 5 Live commentary this weekend in Spa then.. me and Alguersuari

tom in adelaide

Beeb locks the broadcast down to UK listeners only. It’s disappointing.


Do they have a live stream over the internet?

Can we get the link?

Also when do we get to see your lap around the track?


As a Finn (flat landscapes, snow etc.) I don’t see this track suiting Kimi. I can see Grojean, being French/Swiss and more accustomed to the Alpine environment sneaking a beat here. Could be crucial coming in the the last race of the season.


Are you guys serious?


Utter rubbish. Spa is Kimi’s favorite track and it’s flat as a pancake!


I feel like the DRS would be better used on the start/finish straight; the back straight is so long it will provide overtaking chances without DRS. Putting it on the start/finish straight could add another spot.

Tim Wood (@austin_f1)

I heard months ago that there would be DRS activation zones on both the back straight and the main straight. We’ll see if that holds.


For anyone questioning the amount of elevation change, you might want to check out these photos. There are lots more in that thread, but the guy who shot these really got the angles right.


Tim Wood (@austin_f1)

Oh…hey ronmon.

– hairy_scotsman


Hey Hairy,

Thought that others should enjoy them too.

Tim Wood (@austin_f1)

Thanks for posting them!

Tim Wood (@austin_f1)

I posted those on the Speed forum and above as well. They were edited by my buddy Vance, who originally posted them on our Facebook page (Facebook.com/FoF1ATX). They were shot by our friend Art Nunes. Yes, he did get the angles right. It’s amazing how many professional racing photographers have shot the place and didn’t manage to show the elevation changes nearly as well.



If my wife wasn’t due to give birth early November we would be there!

Comments about the elevation and its possible effects on engine reliability are exciting! I wonder how the teams have built the new circuit into their engine and gearbox usage planning for the season?

3 days till Spa!!!

10 Days till Monza!

I can’t wait…..


Give it ten or twenty years and they’ll be able to do away with tracks, drivers and cars, and just show virtual F1. The drivers will all sit in a warehouse in some tax haven.

Tim Wood (@austin_f1)

It looks like they got it mostly right, but the Main Grandstand isn’t nearly as big as shown in the video. They were originally planned to be as long as the pit building, but now they’re less than half that length. The graphics are amazing. Let’s hope the physics are as good.

Tim Wood (@austin_f1)

Agree re: testing the drivers. The esses will be challenging. T10 will test driver skill and will, and will keep engineers up at night.


Looks good, a sequence of corners with a lot of flow and rhythm. Some sectors reminiscent of Spa and Suzuka. I have a feeling it’ll be a big hit with the drivers!


2/3 passing opportunities too. Not a fan of DRS so I really hope its not too long on that long straight. Being the US though, I guess they’ll lengthen it to put on a show for the fans 😉


Turn one reminds me a lot of the first corner at the A1 Ring (except left instead of right). I used to like that track and this looks similar except on steroids.


Agreed was waiting for someone to say that, im thinking it was turn 2 though if i remember, was always quite a messy occasion which has me excited for the Austin GP

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