Martin Whitmarsh has said that the Circuit of the Americas could 'earn a reputation for being one of the greatest racetracks in the world' after F1 teams sample the new Austin circuit for the first time on Friday.

The venue has been widely praised by those within the paddock, with commercial rights holder Bernie Ecclestone going so far as to say that he thought it was 'unbelievable' and 'absolutely fantastic'.

Speaking after the two Friday practice sessions, Whitmarsh said the work that had been carried out in Austin was 'astonishing' and signalled a positive step for F1 as it returns to American shores for the first time since 2007.

The McLaren boss also said he was hopeful that the paddock can now produce the goods on track for those fans attending over the course of the weekend.

"It's easy to turn up at a new grand prix facility and almost take it for granted; I don't think anybody in the F1 paddock did that here," he said. "Make no mistake: this is a world-class facility - built from nothing - and I'm sure it will quickly earn a reputation for being one of the greatest racetracks in the world.

"The scale of achievement - on both a human level and an engineering level - is truly astonishing. The high-speed esses in the first sector are a real test for both man and machine, whilst the excellent facilities - for teams and spectators alike - make it feel like a very 'human' place.

"Most of all, the people who have visited here in their thousands this weekend deserve our recognition and respect. We've been made to feel very welcome in this beautiful city ever since we started arriving earlier in the week, and it's very heartening to see a community so strongly supporting the success of their event.

"Overall, the return of Formula 1 to the United States is a massively positive step - and, after an encouraging first day of practice, let's hope we can put on a show that will make everyone proud."