F1 » 23 October 2012
Circuit of the Americas gets thumbs up from Andretti, d'Ambrosio
Mario Andretti and Jerome d'Ambrosio completed the first flying laps of the new Circuit of the Americas layout in Texas, one month before the USGP returns to the F1 schedule.
The sounds of construction crews operating heavy equipment and putting together buildings and grandstands were finally replaced by those of race car engines as the Circuit of the Americas was officially opened by F1 drivers past and present.
A host of drivers from across the USA took the chance to complete the first high-speed laps of the all-new Austin track, but the stars of the invitation-only show – officially entitled 'First Lap Ceremony' and presented by F1 tyre supplier Pirelli - were former Lotus and Ferrari legend Mario Andretti and current Lotus reserve Jerome d'Ambrosio, who put black-and-gold cars from across the ages through their paces on the layout which will host its first USGP in a month's time.
Circuit ambassador Andretti, the only driver to win both Indy Car and F1 titles and a visitor the CotA during its lengthy construction, helped cut a special ribbon of chequered flags before completing a lap in his title-winning Lotus 79.
“It's everything I expected - and more,” he exclaimed, “You can tell that there was a lot of thought put into the design of this course. The track is extremely technical, with 3.4 miles of real estate to learn. And that's what we're doing all day out here - with each and every lap, the driver learns a little bit more.
“But, quite honestly, I think the track is phenomenal. It has all the features that race car drivers are looking for, as far as giving them the opportunity to overtake other drivers in the tighter corner. But then it widens out so there's plenty of room to manoeuvre. The bottom line is that there should be some really terrific racing out here in the months - and years - to come,”
d'Ambrosio, who last drove a contemporary F1 car as stand-in for the suspended Romain Grosjean at Monza in September, got the chance to turns the first high-speed laps of the circuit, the first time he had ever ventured out onto an American track. Driving one of last year's R30s, the Belgian proffered similar views to Andretti.
“The track is going to provide plenty of challenges, as it has several unique features that make it quite complex,” he explained, “It will challenge the skills of even the most experienced drivers, and certainly expose any weaknesses a driver may have, especially when it comes to handling the cars through the corners, especially the Esses at turns 12-15.”
Actor Patrick Dempsey, who races part-time in ALMS and Grand-Am between castings, achieved a lifetime ambition as he got behind the wheel of an F1 car for the first time.
“Frankly, it was a really great experience, and I was in one of the first cars to go around the track, which was a great honour,” he admitted, “I think all the drivers are really going to be excited to have the opportunity to come racing here. Not only is it a thrilling course, it's a very technical course. There are some genuine challenges out there, too.”
Dempsey also believes that the new circuit will be very important for rebuilding the F1 brand in the USA.
Click on relevant pic to enlarge
Join the conversation - Add your comment
Although the administrators and moderators of this website will attempt to keep all objectionable comments off these pages, it is impossible for us to review all messages. All messages express the views of the poster, and neither Crash Media Group nor Crash.Net will be held responsible for the content of any message. We do not vouch for or warrant the accuracy, completeness or usefulness of any message, and are not responsible for the contents of any message. If you find a message objectionable, please contact us and inform us of the problem or use the [report] function next to the offending post. Any message that does not conform with the policy of this service can be edited or removed with immediate effect.