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