Austin looks like a real Red Bull circuit
Red Bull Racing
Posted By: James Allen  |  11 Nov 2012   |  12:04 pm GMT  |  114 comments

Next Sunday the outcome of the F1 world championships could be decided at the United States Grand Prix on the new circuit in Austin. And the view from the inside, after extensive work by teams on simulators in the last week, is that the nature of the Austin circuit looks set to favour Red Bull.

Sebastian Vettel leads the drivers’ championship by 10 points, from Fernando Alonso, meaning that with his superior number of wins, if he can increase that lead by another 15 points and finish the Austin race 25 points ahead of Alonso, he will be champion.

Meanwhile Red Bull are virtually guaranteed to win the Constructors’ Championship on Sunday for the third consecutive season. They need just 4 points from Sunday’s race to do it.

All week long, the drivers have been driving the circuit on the simulators in the team factories and understanding the character of the track.

Sectors 1 and 3 look to especially favour Red Bull; Sector 1 is like the Magotts/Beckets sequence at Silverstone, while in the final sector the RB8 will devour the long triple apex Turn 17.

Apart from that corner, the rest of Sector 3 has similarities to Korea and parts of Abu Dhabi, where the McLaren was very fast in Lewis Hamilton’s hands, but the overall impression is that the race is Sebastian Vettel’s to lose, unless Ferrari have come up with a silver bullet in development terms.

The track features a number of corners which pay tribute to some of the great corners on tracks around the world. Jenson Button likes the look of the circuit, “On paper, the circuit looks to have a little bit of everything,” he said. “The plan-view certainly looks familiar; you can see elements of the Maggotts/Becketts complex from Silverstone; there’s a reverse of Istanbul Park’s Turn Eight, too; and I can even see a bit of the Hockenheim infield, too.”

Meanwhile Gazzetta dello Sport reported that Fernando Alonso did over 200 laps in one day last week on his personal simulator in his house in Oviedo, Spain.

The one unknown is what the track surface will do to the tyres. It looks more abrasive than the recent races, but once again Pirelli has gone conservative with the Medium and Hard tyres from the range, so barring some major shock, it is likely that the race will feature a number of one stop strategies, with some teams trying two because the pit lane is quite short.

If you want to get a feel for the track, you can ride onboard on our lap of the Austin track HERE

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Sorry that something went wrong, repeat again!
Val from montreal

In other news , Jacques Villeneuve has said yesterday Mercedes pairing Rosberg-Hamilton combo is no good … ” I dont understand , hamilton-Schumacher would be much better than what they do have for next year … Why is he stopping ? ” ….. Coming back to this thread , Vettel and Red Bull are the team to beat again , unfortunately for some … . Reb bull is beatable ,look at Webber ! Add also Button and Hollywood and for sure Massa , Alonso better leave his ego at the hotel check-in this sunday … Noboby is doing him any favours ! ….


Might be, but in Abu Dhabi the performance gap was really small and the “genuine” RB8 far from being dominant. Since pressure rises further errors happen easier…….

Guess we ll see some surprises again, as track is completely new and a good set up / tyre management will break or make the pace. USA expects action and a good show, so that will be provided……….


Vette does not deserve to win not a great alonso fan either but I think alonso does deserve not fastest car and not always on the front. Vettel with the fastest car is not the attest driver out there Lewis is. Vettel hates being behind anyone and that is why you hear these baby tantrums do something do something who’s driving the car for gods sake.he will only take a car slower than him and panics if he is threatened so he has a lot to prove him self a worthy. Champion. Hope it does go to brazil hope alonso gets it. But Hamilton will rin the race.


Red Bull and Seb FTW!


James prior to AD I said in one of your forums if Seb gets in the top five starting from last people may start to respect the driver and not just the car. One of them would have been me, but that respect was blown away like the foam he drive into behind Riccardo or the language used at the podium. He drives into the foam and blames Riccardo the radio. “what is he doing!” he cried. The same as every other driver in the race including you Seb. The language on the podium is unforgivable. I have two young daughters who are


He has a impish streak. Maybe trying to out-do Kimi on podium as another has noted. I think we are safe from SV’s “second language” faux-pas from now on. KR is another matter though.

I remember Vettel sprayed Mumm into the face of a guard at Monaco. Give him credit, the guard barely flinched. He is the WDC and he is a very naughty boy!


He was just trying to impress Kimi.

I thought he looked like a pathetic tagalong little brother, wanting to hang out with the cooler big kids. Was that just me?


After such a great start to the season, it’s a bit of a shame that it’s boiled down to 2 drivers…I was hoping for a 4 or 5 way fight.

Hopefully Mclaren and Lotus spoil the party and the championship is decided in Brazil.


NO Racyboy you are wrong

There is no contest here (no 2 drivers) Vettel will win WDC

Ferrari are far too slower and will not pose any threat what so ever to RBR on pure pace

Alonso has been fantastic all season and led the WDC for sometime. as soon as vettel took the lead it’s quite clear he will win WDC except if RBR have any failures.

It’s shame for F1 to see vettel winning WDC again

Vettel has made far too many mistakes yet RBR’s advantage brought him into championship contention and help him win another WDC

This clearly shows how dominant are RBR against rest of the field


As over as this season looks, it’s not quite yet.

Anything can happen.

ie: Brazil 2008

Warren Groenewald

If Ferrari can sort the qualifying pace of the car out, then Alonso still has a good shot at this – he looked pretty mighty last weekend towards the end, reeling off fast laps.

Alonso nearly won in both Silverstone and Barcelona. The ideal scenario is somehow for Alonso and Vettel to end on equal points after Austin and Brazil becomes a do or die scenario for both.


Fernando and Sebastian leaving Austin on equal points is very much possible. A win for Fernando and a 3rd place for Sebastian is all it takes and it is possible. Sebastian just needs to screw his qualifying or the start to spice up things.

Who knows if Sebastian is taken out at 1st corner then Fernando might leave Austin leading the championship. So many permutations and combinations are possible and that is why I watch F1 🙂

But one thing is for sure Sebastian is not going to walk away with title easily, Fernando won’t let that happen.


James, 2 questions:

(a) Which of the 12 teams have simulators (or access to them) and

(b) Where do they get the Austin sequence from – do they EACH have to go out to the track itself to map it, or, does Austin provide all the teams/simulators with the same scientific data to program the simulators with?


I have heard that traffic heading to the track is going to be a real problem for Austin

Hopefully we do not see a similar situation as Silverstone – this is the last thing the first US race needs…


‘Similar to Silverstone.’ Mud?

Tornillo Amarillo

There is a long back straight that can suit the McLarens, so Hamilton from Pole and Button 3rd could be possible. I guess that every team would want to win in the USA market.

I like to believe that Alonso will be 2nd.

If Vettel is 4th, then the Championship will be for him anyway in Austin in this scenario.

Can McLaren try 2 stops? Reliability would be an important factor now at the end of the year. Anything is possible.


I think Hamilton got pole in AD because he just has a way around there.

This track has Red Bull written all over it for qualifying, but Hamilton won’t be far off

Also don’t forget that RBR didn’t have the Double DRS in Monza. Would be interesting to re-run that race now with the cars as they are today.


Yes james you are right iam afraid

RRB may well continue their dominance here

I hope mclaren can stop RBR taking pole if they keep the heads together (Doubtful though)

Vettel should not win this WDC. ONly mclaren have the car and quality to RBR on pace

Hoping for Mclaren and alonso to be in the mix despite Advantage RBR

Tornillo Amarillo

Edit: If Vettel is 4th, then the Championship will be for him anyway in Austin in this scenario.

No, no, just ahead!

It is very difficult than Vettel increases 15 points over Alonso, but everything is possible.


James – Did you notice a pattern in the last races, that is the way McLaren is handling the Pirelli´s hardest compound?

I was looking into friday race simulation and Lewis looked particularly strong while racing with those hard tyres.


Yes, indeed, ad RBR has been less assured in the hard tyre phases, but qualifying is the name of the game at the moment.


For those of a musical persuasion, the pace should be quite brisk … an Austin Allegro then!


Perhaps Bernie could give us the Texas Chain Saw Massacre if the race needs spicing up.


Good, but preferred the Maxi.


If anyone’s interested and hasn’t already found them, there are a couple of actual onboard laps on YouTube featuring Jerome d’Ambrosio (in a Renault disguised as a Lotus, I suspect) and Mario Andretti in a rather rough-sounding Lotus 79. There are also other Codemasters-type laps, including one with Nico Hulkenberg in a simulator.

The layout looks interesting, with sector 1 containing some spectacular corners and direction changes. I think there are probably two, maybe three, overtaking opportunities, so it should be good viewing (tyres permitting).


Do we have any info on weather and temperatures?


Low 20s, no sign of rain

Bring Back Murray

Hi James. Which teams have tended to go well in lower temperatures then?


James – how are Lotus doing in low temps now?

They had problems with both low temperatures & with safety car restarts earlier this year, but Kimi seemed to have nailed the latter last time out. Was that just because of the high ambients? Or have the team cracked that now?


Ha Ha. Just wait until the GP of Alaska.


I think this track favors Lewis Hamilton and McLaren. Going with Vettel and Red Bull is the logical choice, but no team has really dominated for more than 3 or 4 races this entire season. Even though we had several different winners in the first seven races, it was McLaren who dominated the races in the beginning of the season. They locked-out the front row in qualifying several times, but because of the lack understanding the new Pirelli tires, bad pit-stops, and mechanical issues, they didn’t capitalize with winning races and scoring maximum points.

Ferrari was very competitive in the middle of the season. If it wasn’t for lack of understanding the Pirelli tires and bad in-race tire strategy, Alonso could have won the Canadian Grand Prix and the British Grand Prix. He dominated the German Grand Prix.

Red Bull and Vettel have dominated the last 3 or 4 races. Hamilton qualified on pole in Singapore and was pulling away from Vettel when his transmission broke. I saw in Abu Dhabi that Hamilton wa able to put his McLaren on pole.

If you have to pick a track that COTA resembles, it would be Silverstone. The Ferraris were very competitive there, but because of their wind tunnel issues, it’s hard to pick them to win the United States Grand Prix.

My prediction:

The McLaren of Hamilton and Button will lack-out the front row.

The next 8 positions on the grid will be very close between Red Bull, Ferrari, Lotus(they will have an updated version of their New exhaust system), Sauber, and Williams.

I wouldn’t be surprised to see Vetel 4th or 5th on th


Why has Pirelli become so conservative on their tire choices for the last several races? (rhetorical question). Medium and hard for the United States Grand Prix. Really?!?!. Enough with the one-stop races. If we wanted that, Bridgestone would still be here.

Bring out the super soft and soft tires for this race. Lets see the 2010 Canadian Grand Prix all over again. I even would have been happy with the soft and medium tires for this race.


I believe your stats are logical and may be truer if RBR hadn’t perfected their DDRS. Looking at the video, there seems to be a lot of low and high speed corners that will require a lot of downforce to master. RBR are kings of downforce. Add their DDRS to tackle the straights and pole is theirs.


Red Bull introduced their DDRS in Singapore and Lewis Hamilton took pole. Red Bull perfected their DDRS by the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, but LH took pole. He was driving away in both races, but had to retire because of mechanical problems.

McLaren introduced several updates at the Young Drivers Test in Abu Dhabi last week. Those updates will be on the car for the United States Grand Prix in Austin, TX this upcoming weekend.


I think a Mclaren Mercedes car will surprise a few people here. Hamilton was untouchable at Abu Dhabi!. Sure the flowing parts of Austin circuit are Red Bull territory, but I think the elevation into turn 1 and the long straights are Mercedes suited I think Hamilton will be on pole with Sebastian. I truly hope Kimi pulls off another win – but we all suspect this will be very unlikely. Lotus are saying they have found 6hp with new exhaust & while this does not seem like much 6/750=1/125 or .8%. If a car is accelerating for 50% of a lap then then a lap of 100 sec would equate to 4/10 gain. This could be enough to allow them to fight for a podium with Ferrari again I suspect.

As for tyres – I’m all for them being predictable, & prefer the teams to get the most out of their cars and drivers NOT be at the mercy of tyre manufacturers especially at this time of year.


6 additional horse-power is will not be as big a gain as you think. You’re forgetting wind-resistance. The faster you go, the more difficult it is to press the air. Bugatti added an additional 200 HP to the Veyron Super Sport and only gained an additional 13 MPH to the topspeed.

Mercedes as not been a factor in the second half of the season. I think they have stopped developing their car and is now 100% focus on the 2013 car.


Matt I meant Mclaren Mercedes. Also horsepower increase is proportionate -so all the things you mention is already factored in. It’s not exact but should give Lotus 3-4/10 of a second. That said they won’t gain 1 sec which is the sort of advantage RBR have


Even better, have just the soft and super soft available at all races. Remove the requirement to run both tires. Let the teams race as best they can.


Even though it would incur extra cost for Pirelli, having all 4 tires available at each race is a brilliant idea. Each team would decide which tire(s) they want to use. They do that in MotoGP.

For 2014, Pirelli wants to add another 4 tires for a total of 8 tires.


In my humble opinion, they missed the chance to make an even better track by using my favorite feature of Suzuka. Yes, I am talking about a cross-over for a figure 8. I even made a mock-up image of how it could have been done quite simply.

I probably can’t post the image here (though it is mine), but maybe the link will stick. The flow of the circuit would also be more logical.


Oh yeah, 3-4 would pass over 12-13.


Have you played the game? The existing layout is very good already.


If Alonso doesn’t win this, he can kiss his title hopes goodbye.


Let’s not count out Grosjean and Maldo forget to take their pills and drive in hyper mode. =)


That isn’t true at all. If he finishes 2nd and vettel doesn’t finish then alonso woud only need a 2nd in brazil. It’s not all over as its still in Ferrari’s hands. If they win the last 2 races they win the championship.


If Alonso doesn’t get a podium he may as well – anything can happen. Maybe Felipe will “forget” to brake into turn one and will “accidentally” take Vettel out. Who knows?

Bring Back Murray

Maybe this order could be given in one of their secret Italian messages!


Secret messages? 85 million people speak Italian.


That’s just the Italians.

A few of us johnny foreigners can speak it too…


Although an Alonso fan, let’s not count out Kimi, who never raced at Abu Dhabi either.

DanWilliams from Aust

As everybody has already said, Kimi raced it in 2009.

However when asked what he thought of the Abu Dhabi track, he famously said “the first few turns are ok, but the rest is sh!t”… 🙂

For the record as well, Kimi hates simulators and in his first career, always refused to use them and preferred to just learn a new race track the old fashioned way of just walking and driving on them. He did well in Korea and India with this philosophy, so lets see how he does in Austin.


100% correct. U know your “Kimi stuff” 🙂

Bring Back Murray

I think something tells me he may of raced there in 2009, possibly with Ferrari


Kimi does tend to learn tracks pretty fast. I wouldn’t count him out of a podium.


He did pick up India after a couple of laps. He amazingly stated that he does not like to use the simulator, just picks it up after a couple of laps. Amazing!?


Kimi raced at Abu Dhabi in 2009


He raced in Abu Dhabi in 2009 for Ferrari!!!!


Kimi raced in Abu Dhabi in 2009, his last race with Ferrari.


Yes he did, or am I mistaken? Abu Dhabi was on the 2009 calendar, before Kimi left.



So Alonso has a simulator at his house?

Very interesting indeed, I would encourage other drivers to install similar systems in their homes.

Anyway, yes, I too agree the Austin track looks to favour the Red bulls (especially in Vettel’s hands) have had a good run at new tracks.

Plus we have seen in the past what Vettel has done to these new modern tracks, yes, it has been a total grand slam weekend of pole, fastest lap & race win (however an early indicator is if Red Bull top all the practice sessions or at least 2 out of 3)

Add to that, the only two people (apart from Vettel) with good records at new tracks i.e. Schumi & Alonso have issues >>> Schumi (it’s a long story), as for Alonso, has only won at new tracks thanks to special circumstances e.g. Vettel DNF & rain at Korea 2010.

What about Lewis, one may ask, well, he hasn’t won at a new track (that was new for everybody) since Fugi 2007, and if you recall, that was a monsoon.

Now having said that, I don’t think the

championship will be decided in the US for Alonso has shown over and over again, he has a way of turning his car inside out & somehow putting it on the podium but seeing as Sebi & Fred have been on the podium lots of times of late, maybe one of them won’t make it this time >>> That’s what I think.


A word of caution.

Considering the fact we have the

conservative tyre allocation from Pirelli

Also taking into account the last race (Abu-Dhabi 2012) was a cracker

Add that up to the fact that the inaugural race at these new modern tracks tend to be… Eh, slightly leaning on the boring side, this can only mean, we may not exactly be looking at the

best race ever.

I might be wrong though!!!!!!!!!


Hamilton was doing pretty well at Abu Dhabi in 2009 until his brake rotor exploded– getting pole over Vettel by 0.7 is no small accomplishment.


I don’t think Austin will favour the Red Bulls or we can call it a Red Bull track. We have seen this year it is not the case with many circuits. But Vettel is good at mastering new tracks.

Ferrari is very good on race day. Alonso did fastest laps at the beginning and at the end of the race in Abu Dhabi. McLaren is also very fast as we have seen recently. After last week’s performance, no one can write of Lotus.

Personally I want Red Bull to wrap up both the championships in Austin.

Bring Back Murray

Really? You don’t fancy everything going down to the last race?


No, the tension is too much for me.


Welcome to F1, where tension is part of =)

Maybe you can wait till your mates to tell you the results, then you watch replays so that you know definitely what will happen?


Apart from Turn 12, I can’t see where any overtaking will take place. In that regard, the track is similar to Barcelona where we have a combination of left/right/left/right corners all the way, which means that should a driver be able to launch an inside-apex attack, he’d be on the outside at the following corner. This might produce more collisions than overtakes.

My €0.02.


Add that up to the fact that these new

modern tracks tend to be… Eh, slightly

leaning on the boring side


Whoops, excusez moi!

Meant to say…

The inaugural races at the new tracks tend not be very exciting.


Not true at all – Korea 2010, while it was not ideal waiting for an hour for the race to start, it was exciting!


Rain makes any race exciting!

Bring Back Murray

Better not look down the page at James’ weather report then!


Pirrelli seem to have backed off under the onslaught of critics and chosen purely boring conservative tyres for the final run. I hoped they might throw out some super soft options and forced the teams into some nail biting strategy calls. It might not have made it much harder for red bull and vettel but it could have kept things from getting processional…


Being a new circuit pretty much guarantees that Pirelli will use conservative tire choices. The last thing Pirelli and F1 want is another Indy fiasco.


Disagree entirely! Using high degradation tyres means it becomes a tyre strategy and conservation exercise, not actually a race. Much prefer durable tyres where cars can be driven to the limit of their capability not have drivers nursing the tyres to get to the next pit stop. F1 should be about pushing driver and car to the limit.

Bring Back Murray

I’m not so sure. We all had lots of fun earlier in the season with all those lottery results but now during the final races just let the drivers man it out to see who’s the best on out and out pace.

And I quite like 1 stop races with the fuel loads coming down and everyone going faster and faster each lap. Reminds me of the old F1 before all of the re-fueling came in.


Perhaps (just personal conjecture) Pirelli did it so they weren’t accused of affecting the title through overly-high degradation. If they did, and one driver won both, I could see Pirelli getting stick for having favored that team because the tyres worked better for them. With degradation out of the headscratching, the title will be decided more or less by raw quali pace and race pace.


Yes that makes a lot of sense. I bet they got fed up of the critics saying they were ruining the raw pace. Personally I was actually fond of the teams struggling with the tyres. It may be slightly artificial but no more so than DRS and it certainly kept races interesting.

I wish some fans would stop demanding more variables and fun racing and then decrying anything that hits the established order though. Pirelli were brought in to mix life up – that was their remit – wish they were allowed to keep degradation part of the strategy concerns.


Absolutely agree.


Personally, I didn’t like the tires deciding the races myself. This is racing, I love to see all of them being able to go flat out for a substantial part of the race.

It might produce more boring races, but at least I get the feeling drivers are actually racing instead of conserving tires (which is also “racing”, but in a way I don’t like).


A very big +1!!


I think the real question is : What isn’t a Red Bull circuit?

I think there was just one. Monza.




Anything with an enormous straight causes them issues. I don’t think this is a Red Bull circuit just yet; for a start they’ve got a car which doesn’t like it too warm as the alternator seems to fail.

I suspect this will be far closer than many imagine; I wouldn’t be surprised to see a McLaren win this weekend.


Should be one of the cooler races of the year and there is less ‘straight’ than India, more like Silverstone and the one big straight comes after a bunch of fast and medium speed corners, so it could be hard for trailing cars to get close to the Bulls. The same applies to the multi-apex turn 16-18 (the one that resembles a tighter, mirrored image of Turkey’s T8) being just before the only other straight.

With the cooler weather and the hard/medium tyres, I wonder if getting heat into the tyres could be the big challenge in Qualifying, the first few laps of the race and after a safety car restart (although there is a lot of run-off).


they qualified 2nd and 3rd and were massively quick in the race.Damn if that isn’t a Red Bull circuit then I’m afraid of what will happen on one.


I’m guessing Fernando’s personal simulator isn’t him playing F1 2012 on a PS3 or XBOX then?

It is such a shame this race isn’t live on the BBC.


Yes I was wondering this. Full-blown simulators are massive, and need lots of space and money. James, have you any further insight on this?

To be fair, he can still familiarise himself with racing lines in F1 2012.


I would think it is not to far off from the top drivers having such a simulator at the homes.


It’s basically the same as the one Shell has touring the world. It’s built by Ferrari’s supplier based in Modena, called All in Sport, which is run by former Ferrari and Red Bull electronics guru Anton Stipinovitch.

JA on F1 has had a couple of encounters with it and our readers have had a chance to drive it in Spa (twice)


If a team simulator is a 10, and a consumer console is a 1, where does this one fall?

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