Mercedes motorsport boss Norbert Haug has said the inaugural United States Grand Prix at Circuit of the Americas next weekend is an 'important step' for the sport.
Austin will become the tenth different venue in the USA to hold an F1 grand prix on Sunday, June 18 - following on from Dallas, Detroit, Indianapolis, Las Vegas, Long Beach, Phoenix, Riverside, Sebring and Watkins Glen - and while Haug is confident the circuit has 'exactly the right ingredients' to be a success, it remains to be seen if F1 can win over the American audience, which has always been, at best, sceptical about the sport.
“It is five years since we last visited the United States and there is a great sense of anticipation in F1 to be returning to a custom-built, state of the art venue at the Circuit of the Americas,” Haug stated in the countdown to the penultimate round in the 2012 F1 World Championship. “The USA is the biggest market for Mercedes-Benz cars in terms of sales and a race in the USA belongs in a world championship.
“The circuit looks to have exactly the right ingredients for an exciting weekend and it will provide a real test for the cars and drivers.
“It's not a bland venue but rather a demanding layout with significant elevation changes. It contains an extremely demanding first sector, with a challenging series of high-speed corners and throughout the lap you can feel echoes of other great tracks around the world."
"We look forward to delivering a great race for the American fans. It is an important step to return, both for our sport and its image,” Haug added.
Mercedes team principal, Ross Brawn meanwhile is also very pleased to see F1 heading back across the pond, although he concedes that it is never easy going to a completely new venue.
"We are very pleased to see F1 returning to the United States for the first time since 2007, and the team are looking forward to visiting Austin and the Circuit of the Americas next week. Visiting a new circuit for the first time is always a significant engineering challenge though, and we have been working hard at the factory to prepare for the weekend,” Brawn added. “The team have done over five race distances on the simulator to assess the layout, gradients and G forces.
“The track layout looks quite varied with a high-speed twisting section in the first sector, elevation changes with an uphill approach to the crest of turn one, and a slower, more technical section at the end of the lap.
“Nico [Rosberg] was in the simulator on Thursday to complete our preparations and his feedback, along with that of our other sim drivers, will be used to prepare for the practice sessions.”