History and facts of the United States Grand Prix, which takes place at the Circuit of the Americas (COTA) outside Austin, Texas on October 21-23, 2016.
The US Grand Prix dates back to the early 1900s, when it was known as The Grand Prize and run on tracks in Long Island (New York) and Savannah (Georgia). America’s other big motor race, The Indianapolis 500, also traces its history back to this period. The Indy 500 was also on of the inaugural races during the first 11 years of the modern Formula 1 World Championship (1950-60). After, the Watkins Glen circuit near New York established a solid place on the F1 calendar for 20 consecutive years, from 1961-80.
The F1 circus also visited other stateside venues in the 1980s, although none of the races was referred to as the US Grand Prix. A street circuit in Long Beach, California, hosted the United States Grand Prix West between 1975-83 (read a historic trip report here), Las Vegas joined the fray with the Caesers Palace Grand Prix in the car park of the casino of the same name (1981-1984) and a city-center street circuit hosted the Detroit Grand Prix (1982-1988). The US Grand Prix returned in 1989, this time to a street circuit in Phoenix, Arizona. After three poorly attended races, F1 disappeared from the US for almost 10 years.
It returned in 2000 to a modified version of the famous Indianapolis oval, which included a series of infield corners. Although initially successful and a big draw for fans, the race was marred by controversy, including the 2005 race when only six cars took the start due to a tire dispute. After the last race in 2007, the US was once again without a Grand Prix.
Circuit of the Americas
In 2010, Tavo Hellmund, an Austin native and former racing driver, first announced plans to build a brand new, purpose-built F1 circuit (designed by Hermann Tilke, of course) on the outskirts of Austin. Bernie Ecclestone threw his weight behind the project, awarding Hellmund and his investors a ten-year contract to stage the US Grand Prix from 2012. Despite some delays and contractual disputes, the circuit was completed at a cost of around $400m USD and welcomed 117,429 race-day fans for its inaugural F1 race in November 2012.
The 3.427-mile (5.515 km) circuit, situated on 890 acres (3.6 km2) and 14 miles (22km) southeast of central Austin, has a challenging, undulating layout with a high point on the apex of the opening corner. Features of the circuit include a distinctive 77m observation tower, the landscaped ‘Grand Plaza’ area, Austin360 Amphitheater (where concerts are held) and the permanent main grandstand, which holds 9000 fans. As well as hosting the US Formula 1 Grand Prix, the Circuit of the Americas is also part of the MotoGP and FIA World Endurance Championship calendars.
Did you know?
> Michael Schumacher has won the most US GPs of any driver, with victory at 5 out of 8 Indianapolis GP’s between 2000-2007, including the infamous 2005 race when just 6 cars started.
> Lewis Hamilton has notched up 4 US GP victories (2007, 2012, 2013, 2015), Graham Hill (1963-65) and Jim Clark (1962, 1966-67) each have 3 victories, whilst Ayrton Senna won twice in Phoenix (1990-91).
> No American driver has won the US Grand Prix when it has been a part of the F1 World Championship, though Mario Andretti did win the 1977 US Grand Prix West in Long Beach, California.
United States Grand Prix Facts
|Circuit Name (type)||Circuit of the Americas (permanent)|
|Race first held (number of races held)||2012 (4)|
|Number of Turns||20|
|Race Distance||56 laps (308.896km)|
|Lap Record||1:39.347, Sebastian Vettel (Red Bull, 2012)|
|2015 result||1st Lewis Hamilton (Mercedes) 1:50:52.703|
|2nd Nico Rosberg (Mercedes) + 2.850s|
|3rd Sebastian Vettel (Ferrari) + 3.381s|