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GP Week : Issue 122
We travelled down to Austin following the Canadian Grand Prix and my first impression of the new Circuit of the Americas was very positive. After landing the night before, we arrived on site at 10:30am following a 30 minute drive from our hotel in central Austin. The main access is currently just a two-way road but the organisers are looking at turning it into a dual carriageway to cater for more traffic when the race arrives. At the gates there was strict security so we had to flash our passes to get in to the main site where the organisers currently have air-conditioned offices. We were met by three of the guys working on the track - all with very American names – Butch, JR and Chuck. First on our itinerary was a tour in a four- wheel drive golf buggy with Butch and we immediately set off in the direction of Turn One. The first corner is at the top of a very steep hill and, at the moment, they have a location set up with a platform overlooking the entire site. You can probably see about 90% of the circuit from the first corner, which is amazing for a race track, and they're planning to build a lot of grandstands around there to make the most of that. It reminds me of the A1 Ring in Austria (now known as the Red Bull Ring) in that sense, and circuit designers Tilke have actually modelled a lot of the track on other circuits. Two or three years ago the Tilke architects came over and surveyed a lot of the land and specifically picked this patch. They spent about a year trying to find the right bit and the hill at Turn 1 was a key reason why they decided to base it where they did. From there the circuit goes back down the hill and into a sweeping and slightly banked right hander that then turns into what they call the Beckett turns – based on part of Silverstone's famous sector one. It's a fast left, right, left and it should be a really interesting piece of track and a challenge for the drivers. Another area of