The track is the work of well-known circuit designer Hermann Tilke and it first saw the light of day in 2012. It boasts 20 corners over its 5.513 kilometre length and is one of four anti-clockwise tracks on the calendar, with 56 laps required for a race distance. Its layout takes some of its inspiration from other circuits which have made their mark on Formula 1. For example, turns 3 to 6 is very much like the Maggots-Becketts-Chapel section at Silverstone. Then there’s the section between turns 16 and 18, which is a true replica of the legendary Turn 8 at the Istanbul Park circuit. There are other parts of the Texan track that pay homage to Hockenheim, Interlagos and Spielberg’s Red Bull Ring, so there’s something for everyone!
The COTA layout requires high levels of downforce, as there are several slow corners, while aero balance on the cars needs to be perfect, otherwise there is a risk of losing precious hundredths of a second in the series of fast corner and down the two long straights, which are the only places where the moveable rear wing can be used to gain some top speed. On the subject of speed, when the DRS is on, going down the back straight and with a bit of slipstreaming, expect to see speeds in excess of 340 km/h.
The power units will have their work cut out, with several sections run at full throttle and, as was the case in Montreal, the teams need to find an efficient engine mapping to keep fuel consumption under control. In theory, one needs 101 litres of fuel to complete the race, one more than allowed by the rules, so the drivers and teams will have to try and save fuel where they can if they don’t want to run dry within sight of the finish line. mAs for tyres, Pirelli brings its three softest compounds to Austin, the Soft, Supersoft and Ultrasoft. The grip level at COTA is low, but the tyres come in for large vertical loads because of the high speeds on the straights and the high level of aerodynamic downforce. Plus, there are spikes in lateral and longitudinal forces, going from high speed corners to heavy braking points. Overall therefore, everything is there to ensure a great race!