Lewis Hamilton vocalised the concern of many drivers and teams in Austin for the 2012 F1 United States Grand Prix in Texas by calling on the FIA to put additional effort and resources into cleaning up the dirt and dust on the starting grid in time for this afternoon's race.
Even though race organisers have brought in jet dryers to help blast the dust and dirt off the parts of the track not on the regular racing line, many drivers fear that starting from the wrong side of the tracks at the Circuit of the Americas could see them lose up to two positions at the start of Sunday's race because of a basic lack of grip.
“I hope the FIA clean the circuit, particularly on the inside, so the guys on inside have the chance of keeping position as least," said Hamilton on Saturday, after securing second place on the grid - on the dirty side of the track - in qualifying.
"I hope we can get away well," he continued. "We're going to ask Charlie to clean that side of the grid so that the people on that side get an equal start and hopefully I can fight Sebastian down to turn one. But after that it's quite a difficult circuit to follow on because it's so fast, so position will be very important.
“I am not concerned about the first corner more concerned about the slippery side of the grid,” Hamilton added. "It's so wide in turn one that I don't think really much can go wrong generally. [But] I might be wrong!"
If the track conditions off the racing line aren't improved, Hamilton fears that his race may be wrecked in the first seconds after the lights go out.
"It's one of the dirtiest parts of the track because no-one ever drives on there," he explained. “The first few may get the better of me - in fact, everyone on the right hand side," he said. "I did a little launch from it earlier on in FP3 and it was quite slippery.
"Obviously I don't want to get in the way of Sebastian's race, but I do want to win so I'm going to try my best to get through cleanly," he added.
Meanwhile, German motorsports specialist publication Auto Motor und Sport
has speculated that the problem with grip at the Circuit of the Americas is not simply dust and dirt, but is being exacerbated by oil seepage from the newly laid track surface.
"The brand new asphalt is sweating oil," said the report.
The designer of the COTA track, Hermann Tilke has told FIA officials that the circuit uses the same type of asphalt as utilised at Korea and India, but HRT driver Pedro de la Rosa disagreed and said that the surface in Austin was different.
Ferrari's championship contender Fernando Alonso felt the same, comparing it with Portimao in Portugal as being "very smooth and not at all porous."