Thursday's tempo at Circuit of the Americas picked up as the day progressed in the Formula One pits and paddock, getting ready for Friday's first day of the USGP. Race cars were unveiled, went through scrutineering, were worked on, tweaked, and spiffed up. Several teams, including Sahara Force India and Sauber, practiced pit stops. On course Medical 1 & 2, Safety 1 & 2, and Test Cars 1 & 2 & 3 chased each other around the course doing hot laps during the Track Systems Check. One car, which shall remain nameless, spun out. All in good fun. No harm, no foul.
Weather was still a consideration. the sun played hide and seek with the heavy cloud cover, but the weather was (slightly) warmer than Wednesday. And the promises just keep coming for warmer, dry weather.
The big news of the day was the sighting of Heikki Kovalainen in full Lotus Team gear in the Lotus Garage. Still no sign up, but it's only Thursday.
After days of speculation, the Caterham team with whom Kovalainen had been contracted as a Reserve Driver, agreed to release the Finn so he could race the remaining two F1 races with rival team, Lotus.
Caterham's other Reserve Driver is young American, Alexander Rossi, who will run the first Friday F1 practice.
Caterham Team Principal Cyril Abiteboul said: “We were asked by Lotus F1 Team if we could release Heikki from his contract with us for the final two races of 2013 and we are pleased that we can help to give him the chance to race again in 2013. He is a valued member of the Caterham family and we're sure that he'll do a good job in the USA and Brazil.”
Sergio Perez/McLaren was one of the several F1 drivers in the Thursday afternoon FIA Press Conference. He was questioned about the timing of the news he wouldn't be returning to the team next season.
“Yes, it was kind of a shock because I was not really expecting that this would happen, as the team signalled that I was going to stay with them and I myself only found out that they were signing somebody else just days before the news broke. But that's life: sometimes it doesn't go the way you would like it to go. For me that decision means that I have to change my roots now. Unfortunately the decision came very late, so I really have to focus now on my future,” he said.
Perez's future? “Well, there are options that I have, but I will never take an option just for the sake of staying. It really has to be a good option.”
Thursday all thirty-eight teams from the F1 in Schools World Championship competition were track guests with guided tours and meet and greets with the F1 teams. Rob Smedley, race engineer for Ferrari driver, Felipe Massa, took particular interest in meeting with the aspiring/future F1 team members from Lone Star Racing. Wednesday night he had presented them with the Team Identity Award on behalf of Ferrari.
by Lynne Huntting