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Historics - Thirty-Two Car Field Brings Back Vintage Formula 1 At COTA

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AUSTIN, Nov. 17, 2012: Mexican race driver David Martinez was quickest in practice Friday for Saturday’s Historic Grand Prix support race at the 2012 Formula 1 United States Grand Prix™ at the Circuit of The Americas™.

Historic Grand Prix is an American series that brings back memories of some of Formula 1’s vintage years, the period from 1966 to 1983 when the cars ran to a three-liter engine formula and developments included the famous “ground effect” cars of the early Eighties.

The HGP organization is comprised of more than 50 owner-drivers of authentic vintage 3-litre models with a goal to preserve the historically correct presentation and performance of the cars, some of them originally driven by racing legends such as Niki Lauda and Mario Andretti.

Martinez, driving a 1980 Arrows A3 formerly raced by Italian Grand Prix star Riccardo Patrese, set a fastest lap time of 2 minutes 04.921 seconds on the 3.427-mile (5.516 kilometre) Austin course. That compared to a 1:38.125 set by Sebastian Vettel in opening practice for the contemporary Formula 1 cars that will race over 56 laps Sunday.

Danny Baker took second with 2:10.33 in his ex-Keke Rosberg Williams FW08, followed by Arie Luyendyk with a lap time of 2:10.35 in a 1979 McLaren originally in the hands of multiple world champion Alain Prost.

Martinez was thrilled by his first experience of the new American venue. “The track was just incredible. And the atmosphere of an F1 race! I’m grateful to be able to drive one of these cars,” he said. “The track is still very slippery since it’s the first time we are using it but waiting for practice was exciting. Getting that out of the way, we are going to focus on getting better and having a good weekend.”

Two-time Indianapolis 500 winner (1990, 1997) Luyendyk agreed. “It’s really a beautiful track. I especially like the first part of the track, which is downhill, and the turns are contoured in such a way that you can go just flat out in 5th gear,” he said. “I was happy with my lap time. I won the first IndyCar race at Texas Motor Speedway and I’m hoping to win the first race here.”

The qualifying session for Historic Grand Prix will take place Saturday at 10:30 CST and the 14-lap race at 15:20.