Circuit Of The Americas

November 19th, 2012

Yesterdays has been the official coming back of F1 in the USA and I have to admit that it has been a good one.

F1 always had a strange relationship with the US, where the racing sport is mainly focused around NASCAR. The result of this was that F1 never had a true circuit built to accomodate the needs for F1 cars, which are completely different from any othertype of cars.

The result, especially during the Indianapolis years, has always been a poor race, where cars had to be greatly modified to accomodate the circuit. With the “Circuit Of The Americas” in Austin, F1 has finally find a real home.

Despite being not a very challenging circuit for pilots (only turn 19 gave some real trouble), it’s clear now that US has finally built a circuit to really accomodate F1 needs. With the right length, the right mix of straight and turns and with a more adequate capacity that doesn’t make the stands look like half empty even with 250,000 people seated (as happened in Indianapolis where the capacity is almost 500,000 people).

The race unfolded without major surprises. Everybody did their job quite easily and we reached the apex of the race when Hamilton succesfully took over Vettel to lead until the end. This once again opened up the Championship that will see a glorious end in San Paolo next week.

But back to Austin for a moment. Until now I had very kind words for the race but as always I have a few points I didn’t like at all. First of all, I stil don’t understand why the BBC did not broadcast the race live via iPlayer but it did only a radio coverage. This meant that I had to find “alternative” ways to watch the race. In the end I had to use a very weird combinations: FOX Sport (in Spanish) which I muted and BBC Radio 5 for the audio commentary. Unfortunately the combination wasn’t completely in sync so I heard things before they happened on my screen. This wasn’t a huge problem during the race, except for the moment when Hamilton passed Vettel. It spoiled the action a little bit, but it was the best I could do.

The second problem was with the nature of the broadcast. Once again I had to use an american channel and that could only mean one thing: commercials. During the race viewers are literally bombarded by commercials at an impressive rate. Every 5 to 6 laps you would miss 3 in favour of some ads being shown. On the other side I had the BBC radio broadcast that never missed a beat, delivering a great and very engaging commentary.

So overall it was a good race, with the new circuit delivering according to the expectations. There’s a 7 years contract in place with the FIA so I’m confident that pilots will get to know the circuit well in the near future, spoiling everything that it has to offer.