TEN FACTS: The US Grand Prix

Austin_circuit.svgThe American Grand Prix will host one of the smallest grids in several decades but do not expect less action as the racing circus heads to Austin, Texas this weekend. With the race just days away, here are ten facts you need to know about the circuit, its drivers and the country’s affiliation with the sport….

  1. The Hermann Tilke designed track is 5.513km in distance meaning that, over the 56 set laps, the drivers could reach speeds as high as 308km/h. Indeed, the track in Austin has one major selling point, its steep incline. As a result, the cars will climb to an astonishing 134 feet.
  2. The lap record is held by Sebastian Vettel with a time of 1:39.347s which was set in 2012. The German has one victory to his credit from 2013 and will be the defending race victor in America. However, the four-time champion is not expected to post a qualifying time as he used six engines – the maximum allocated by FIA rules.
  3. The aptly-named Circuit of Americas is the tenth location to host an American Grand Prix. Sebring, Riverside, Watkins Glen, Long Beach, Las Vegas, Detroit, Dallas, Phoenix, Indianapolis and Austin have all welcomed the Formula 1 circus with varied success. The calendar used to partly coincide with the Indy 500 schedule but this idea was abolished in 2007. Austin will remain a regular fixture in F1 competition until 2021.
  4. 250,325 spectators flocked to Austin for the 2013 Grand Prix over the three days, more than Bahrain, Germany and Monaco combined. It is thought that around 80% of these fans come from outside the host state, Texas. These numbers may be affected by the closely-situated Mexican Grand Prix in 2015.
  5. In a change to previous races, Pirelli will bring the soft and medium tyres to the circuit; the hard and medium compounds were used at the last two events held at Austin. This has been implemented to increase the number of pit stops from one to two thus opening up more overtaking and strategy opportunities for the shortened grid.
  6. This is one for you stats fans – the fastest pit stop ever took place at the US Grand Prix in 2013. Red Bull mechanics tended to Mark Webber’s car in a record 1.923 seconds. What makes this achievement all the more impressive is the angle of the pit lane; the circuit is anti-clockwise so reverses the process for the team mechanics.
  7. The US Grand Prix has been won by a British driver on 15 separate occasions, more than any other nationality. This is recorded from 1959 when the first World Championship race was held. Stirling Moss won the following year, Graham Hill had three wins at Watkins Glen and Lewis Hamilton was the inaugural victor at Austin.
  8. 38 American drivers have started a Grand Prix. The last was Scott Speed – who endured a few lacklustre years at Toro Rosso – but Alexander Rossi has participated in FP1 sessions for both Caterham and Marussia. Phil Hill and Mario Andretti remain the nation’s only champions, securing their titles in 1961 and 1978 respectively.
  9. Of the 2014 grid, Jenson Button has participated in the most US GPs with eight appearances while the Ferrari pairing of Fernando Alonso and Kimi Raikkonen have six starts to their credit. Kevin Magnussen and Daniil Kvyat are yet to compete in an F1 race on American soil. Fellow rookie Marcus Ericsson is not expected to appear this weekend following Caterham’s recent struggles.
  10. Speaking of this weekend, Mercedes could match a record held by McLaren-Honda from 1988. The British-based, German-owned outfit could match the nine 1-2 finishes achieved by Alain Prost and Ayrton Senna while at the helm of the infamous MP4/4. The 1988 calendar held just 16 races while this year F1 is attending 19.
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