How the F1 teams see this weekend's inaugural USGP shaping up on the Circuit of The Americas in Austin.
Jenson Button: “Visiting a new circuit is always an interesting challenge. You approach it in a very different way from a track you've visited before – Thursday's track walk and those first laps are all about exploration and understanding as you gather information from lots of different sources in a bid to build up a complete picture of the track and what's required to get the best from it.
“On paper, the circuit looks to have a little bit of everything – 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 8, and I can even see a bit of the Hockenheim infield, too.
“Whether those elements will blend together to make a satisfying whole remains to be seen, but there are a couple of long straights into tight corners, too, which should at least open up the possibility of overtaking.
“I think we're in for a fantastic weekend – I really cannot wait to get out to Austin and see the city, the people and the track. I think it's going to be brilliant.”
Lewis Hamilton: “It's crazy to think that the last United States Grand Prix was five years ago! It's a race I still remember like yesterday, though – the nervy anticipation as I drove into the [Indianapolis Motor] Speedway for the very first time, the thousands of supportive fans, and the fantastic car I had beneath me that enable me to take my second grand prix victory in the space of a week. For me, those were incredible, thrilling times.
“I have to admit – I'm absolutely made-up [that's British slang for very happy! –Ed.] that we're going back to the States. It's a fantastic country and a place where our sport truly deserves to be. I think the Circuit of The Americas looks like it could also be the place that modern Formula 1 finally calls home. I've only driven it on the computer and in the sim, but I think it's going to be a track that drivers enjoy, which produces some great, close racing, and which fans will quickly love.
“This is a new circuit, a new challenge and a new opportunity – I'm definitely looking to be the first grand prix winner at the Circuit of The Americas.”
Martin Whitmarsh – team principal: “I've always maintained that Formula 1's presence in the United States is crucial, so I'm personally pleased and satisfied that we're finally returning to America after spending far too long away from its shores.
“On a wider level, the arrival of a state-of-the-art, purpose-build grand prix track is perfect for Formula 1, and this is a golden opportunity for the sport to finally put down roots and find a long-term home. From a business perspective, too, we are in the right place at the right time. This is an invaluable commercial opportunity for the sport, for Vodafone McLaren Mercedes and our partners.
“With Lewis, we won the last grand prix to be held in the United States back in 2007. After a strong, but ultimately disappointing, performance in Abu Dhabi last week, I know that both Lewis and Jenson head to Austin, determined to pick up the baton and return us to the top step of the podium. This should be a great race for Formula 1.”
Sebastian Vettel: “I think it's great that we are traveling to the United States again. I have been in the simulator learning the Austin track; how it flows and getting a general feel for it. What we know from designer Hermann Tilke is that the hallmark of the circuit will be the big differences in altitude within a lap, as the highest point is expected to be 40ft higher than the lowest point. The site has natural elevation changes, which promises a fast course with difficult corners for us to familiarize ourselves with.
“It was also important to the designers that the fans in the stands could see a lot of the track and see the cars for a good amount of each lap. The track has 20 corners and we go anticlockwise.”
Mark Webber: “Regarding the new track, it's unproven in terms of what we need to do with the car there. We will have a reasonable idea before we turn a wheel, but we've got to get into the nitty-gritty from our simulations. We need to see track temperatures and how the asphalt is for the car in terms of grip – we've got a lot of unanswered questions which we only learn on Friday, but the layout looks awesome. It's probably one of the best layouts of the year in terms of being challenging for the drivers and the cars.
“I've been to Austin a few times; I've got some buddies there. It's a really vibrant city, similar to Melbourne, and I know the locals are going to really embrace it. They obviously have the huge music festivals and they pull those off really well in terms of the organization and getting everyone around.”
“It will be the third new circuit for me this year and most of all, a brand-new place for every team and every driver as well. Korea and India were both new to me, but I had seen the previous races on TV. I don't know anything about Austin, just the name Circuit of The Americas. I have always liked to go to new places as it adds a bit of additional excitement. I'm particularly looking forward to this one. I like the American atmosphere, it's just a relaxed environment; they know how to have fun and, most of all, they love racing.
“I competed in seven grands rrix at Indianapolis. Unfortunately, the one time I felt I had a really strong car there was in 2005 –when only six cars raced and I wasn't one of them! I did get pole position in 2003, but none of the races are ones I remember well.
“Last year I tried NASCAR. I did two races on the Charlotte oval and I really liked it a lot. That was probably the experience I needed to open my eyes for racing again. After that I really wanted to come back to Formula 1, while it was a tempting idea to do more NASCAR, too. After seeing the excitement of the American NASCAR fans, I hope Formula 1 gets people as eager to enjoy our racing in Texas, too.”
“I've never been to the USA before, not even for a shopping trip to New York! It's going to be a new experience in many ways. I'm sure it will be a big journey of discovery for me; a new country, a new culture and of course of a new racetrack which is always something I like to experience.
“NASCAR is of course very famous, and I think we can learn things from the show that it puts on for all the fans, as it's very impressive. The Indianapolis 500 is another event that everybody knows, too. I hope that all the fans we meet in Austin are as enthusiastic as seen at these other events.
“I've spoken to Jerome [d'Ambrosio, Lotus test driver, who ran a demo laps of the track last month. -Ed.] so I have a little idea of what to expect. On top of that I've worked with simulations of the track, and it's easy for me to play Xbox when I am traveling, so I can get an idea from that, too. I don't think it will be the easiest circuit to learn and there are a few fast corners which look like they will be a challenge. The first corner certainly looks to be good fun.”