the excitement continues
Circuit of the Americas sells out, Canada recap, drivers head to Valencia
Great news for Circuit of the Americas: Grandstand Bleachers three-day passes sold out in less than a week; only Personal Seat Licenses and General Admission tickets are left. The past few weeks have been full of great news Austin for COTA, and the rapid ticket sales confirm that it wasn't such a crazy idea to build a world class motor sports facility here, after all.
In other news this past weekend, Montreal, Canada was the backdrop to the most exciting Grand Prix so far this year. Lewis Hamilton became the seventh Grand Prix winner in seven races this year, a record in Formula 1.
Lewis Hamilton started behind last year's champion Sebastien Vettel but passed him during the first round of pit stops; Hamilton lost that lead when he pitted a second time.
Ferrari’s Fernando Alonso and Red Bull’s Vettel both appeared to be on a one-stop strategy and pulled away from Hamilton. Their tires then began to lose traction at record speed, allowing Hamilton regain the lead which he held onto until the end.
But in the final few laps, we saw some brilliance from two of the youngest drivers on the grid. Lotus’ Romain Grosjean and Sauber’s Sergio Perez took advantage of Vettel and Alonso’s mismanagement and passed both of them — even catching up to Hamilton.
The drag reduction system (DRS) zone in Canada allowed for plenty of overtaking, which provided lots of excitement for the audience. For those who aren’t familiar, the DRS zone is an area where the cars trying to overtake are allowed a little aerodynamic boost, giving racers about 10 mph of extra speed in the straight line. But in order to have access to this boost, the car attempting to overtake must be within a second of the car in front at a specific moment in the turn prior to the DRS zone.
We are a third of the way through the season, and it is harder than ever to predict the next Grand Prix winner. We still have two previous world champions that have yet to win a race, and with newcomers like France’s Romain Grosjean and Mexico’s Sergio Perez consistently performing well, it is not unimaginable to see one or both on the top steps of the podium at some point this season.
Circuit of the Americas new ambassador former Formula 1 Champion Mario Andretti had this to say after Sunday’s race: “It's absolutely wide open. It's a dream for the sport, Formula One for so many years has been quite predictable. . .That's out of the window now.”
It was very exciting to see Sergio Perez back on the podium this past weekend; the win proved that his second place finish in Malaysia wasn’t a fluke. Hopefully he will keep the great performance and arrive in Austin as a podium contender. Austin will be as close as Perez will get to having a home court advantage at a Grand Prix this year; should he remain a favorite, it will most likely boost attendance.
It was fortunate that FOX’s first Formula 1 broadcast of the year was such a good race; I believe a lot of people in the United States are now more interested in and excited about Formula 1. The only unfortunate parts were the excessive commercial breaks, I wish FOX would just take the bottom of the screen or a corner and display commercials there, rather than completely cutting away from the race.
As for the excitement surrounding COTA on the home front over the past few weeks, a recap:
- American Le Mans was announced for next year.
- General admission tickets went on sale at very reasonable prices.
- Circuit of the Americas and Tavo Hellmund settled their lawsuit, meaning hopefully we will hear an announcement about a MotoGP.
- Racing legend Mario Andretti was announced as Circuit of the Americas ambassador.
The next race will be the European Grand Prix in Valencia in two weeks. This Grand Prix will also be played on FOX at 2 p.m. CST, though not live. With the top five drivers within 25 points of each other, and four drivers that are still serious contenders for a first victory, it should be another eventful race.
If all of this excitment is too much to take, I recommend stopping by the Formula Expo at the Austin Convention Center this weekend to check out a wide variety of Formula 1 cars and simulations.