United States Grand Prix, Austin
17 November, 7pm GMT
Live on Sky Sports F1, highlights on BBC
First Grand Prix: 2012
Track length: 5.513 km
Number of laps: 56
Lap record: 1:39.347 – Sebastian Vettel (2012)
Formula 1’s grand return to one of the largest car markets in the world in 2012 was also the first introduction for a brand new track in the IndyCar racing heartland of Texas.
While twists and turns may be a novelty for racing fans used to the giant bowls of US motorsport, the circuit itself was hailed a great success last year, with a neat combination of turns that take their inspiration from some of F1’s most famous venues.
Silverstone’s high speed Maggott/Becketts section is transplanted to the baking heat of the American Midwest in turns three to six, while 12 through 15 is reminiscent of Hockenheim’s stadium section. But the course isn’t all made up of a hodge podge collection of other tracks: the steep climb from the starting line into turn one provides a challenge all of its own.
Lewis Hamilton topped the podium in the inaugural race last year, grinning with his sponsored black cowboy hat instead of the standard baseball cap usually handed to podium drivers. Hollywood stars were out in force over the weekend too, with everyone from Matt LeBlanc to George Clooney coming to get a taste of the action.
2014 will see another American circuit round the streets of New Jersey, and while traditionalists will harrumph at the gradual move away from old school European tracks, there’s no denying the fact that F1 supremor Bernie Eccleston has backed a winner in Austin.
2012 memory: Hamilton passing Vettel with 14 laps to go and winning with just 0.6 seconds to spare, ensuring the drivers’ championship would be decided in the final race in Brazil.
2012: Lewis Hamilton