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FIA F1 - Wide Open Elevations Under A Texas Star

PHOTO (select to view enlarged photo)

By Rick Carlton - Senior Motorsports Editor

Austin, Nov. 16, 2012: Believe it or not, I had not been a local proponent of development of the new Circuit of The Americas until the first wheel turned this morning. Having lived in Europe for the first third of my life watching F1 events run at iconic race tracks like the original Spa, Monza and the Nurburgring, the concept of building an all-new venue in the middle of Texas' NASCAR country, dealing with a National economic abyss and a local political climate that would make a Luddite blush seemed a bit illogical, and seemed to cry out for a train-wreck. Well, simply put, I was wrong - dead wrong.

Politics and economics aside, Herman Tilke and his engineering team did an outstanding job leveraging the local geography to produce a circuit that, dare I say it, reminds me of Spa Francorchamps. The course's constant positive and negative elevations, undulating on/off cambered contours, and the host of acutely-angled corners and multiple apexes, challenges the eye and certainly challenged the drivers in today's first session. Nico Hulkenberg kicked off the spin-fest when he lost it under braking at the negatively-loaded turn one, and once guys started to see the track begin to rubber in nearly everyone had a chance to taste the run-offs including Weber, Kobayashi, Grosjean, Perez, Hamilton, Shumacher, Massa, Fernando Alonzo and ultimately wunderkind Vettel.
PHOTO (select to view enlarged photo)

PHOTO (select to view enlarged photo)

Click on the images to get an idea of how 'groovy' the new Circuit of The Americas actually is: Regardless of the teething troubles, all in all today's roll out was pretty impressive. As one might expect Vettel dropped his lap times from an average of 1:40 initally to a final fast time of the mid 1:39s at the end of the session. Nonetheless, everyone else was obviously trying to do his utmost to quickly get to grips with a venue that is likely to be known as not only a premier US racetrack in the near-term, but a world-renowed and classic one over time. Good on ya Austin, you done us proud.