Saturday, August 13, 2011

Excited for 2012 USGP and Circuit of the Americas

If everything goes according to plan, in little over a year F1 will make it's return to the United States after a 4 year absence; and I am sure it will make a big return where they do everything big, Texas. Currently there is a purpose-built circuit under construction outside of Austin, Texas and if you look at the design details, simulations, and some construction photos, it appears the track is going to be something to behold. The 3.4 mile circuit clearly pays respect and takes some cues from Silverstone's Maggotts-Becketts-Chapel sequence, Hockenheim's arena bends and Istanbul's multiple apex Turn 8. In addition, the uphill section into Turn 1 gives me some visions of the old Osterreichring. In addition to F1, the circuit will have international events like MotoGP (a real home grand prix for Colin Edwards and Ben Spies) and Australian V8 Supercars.

Although I have not gotten over the failure that was USF1, this has all the makings of a well organized and well supported grand prix and will go a long way in helping me forget USF1. The people involved from the American side of things are people of the right caliber, Founding Partners of the circuit, Red McCombs and Tavo Hellmund. Simply put these two are well positioned to help make the race a success for two reasons. One, McCombs's money and connections with media and two Hellmund's organizational experience and connections to F1 through the man himself, Bernie Ecclestone. Add it together you have money, exposure, leadership and passion for F1.

Moreover, Texas seems to be a very appropreiate venue as Austin is a youngish city with a growing economy with high technology sectors and very much into green construction; right in sync with the F1 and the FIA. Also, F1 is not short of latin drivers; according to US census info, 38% of people in Texas are of latino decent and Mexico is right next door. The Champcar/NASCAR races in the recent past in Mexico (Fundidora Park and Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez) were well supported races as was the Grand Prix of Houston in 2007 (Champcar) with a race weekend attendance of 168,000.

More than likely there will not be an American driver in F1 for 2012 but there is a Mexican, Sauber rookie Sergio Perez, who has impressed with his performances in which he has driven as if he has seen it all before; very poised, mature and quick. With Mexican billionaire Carlos Slim backing the Sauber team, there is no doubt much will be made of Perez racing just over the border in 2012.

In addition, if Ferrari team principal Stefano Domenicali is to be believed about his ideal line-up being an experienced driver paired with a talented young driver, it stands to reason that Perez (a member of Ferrari's driver development program) ends up with the legendary F1 team in 2013 when current "number 2" driver Felipe Massa's contract expires. The other Mexican F1 drivers to hold such got it, Pedro and Ricardo Rodriguez.

Circuit of the Americas
2012 United States Grand Prix

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