RED BULL, INFINITI SHOW CAR RUN, FAN FORUM KICK OFF AUSTIN FORMULA ONE U.S. GRAND PRIX
Formula One race fans who arrived in Austin early to attend the 2014 United States Grand Prix being held at Circuit of the Americas have had several opportunities to see and interact with some of their favorite drivers prior to the race.
Two such public events were held on Wednesday, October 29. The first, hosted by Infiniti Red Bull Racing was held on four blocks of Congress Avenue in downtown Austin, between Seventh Street and the Texas Capitol. For over an hour, Red Bull teammates Daniel Ricciardo and Sebastian Vettel took turns driving the 2011 Championship-winning Formula One car and the F1-inspired 560-horsepower Infiniti Q50 Eau Rouge prototype up and down Congress Avenue, to the delight of thousands of fans attending the event.
Attendees included many local Austinites, some of whom exited various downtown offices on their lunch hours and were attracted by the loud noises coming from Congress street, as well as dozens of Formula One fans from around the country and around the world.
The event got off to a roaring start – literally – when Red Bull engineers entertained the crowd with a unique rendering of the American national anthem, performed by adjusting the tuned exhaust note of the Infiniti’s Red Bull Formula One car.
In addition to the high-speed runs up and down the closed street, the “Go Zero to Infiniti” event featured former F1 driver David Coulthard and Texas-based sports broadcaster Robbie Floyd as the master of ceremonies, who interviewed both Vettel and Ricciardo about their hopes and expectations going into this running of the United States Grand Prix – won last year by Vettel.
In addition, a few lucky fans were selected from the crowd to experience thrilling “hot lap” rides along Congress Avenue in the Q50 Eau Rouge, with either Vettel or Ricciardo behind the wheel.
“It was good fun to introduce the Infiniti Q50 Eau Rouge prototype to the people of Austin, and it’s great to see Infiniti build a product directly as a result of their involvement in Formula One,” added Sebastian Vettel.
Later in the day, three of Formula One’s popular Latin American drivers had a chance to interact with fans at the Austin’s Fans’ Forum. Williams’ Brazilian driver Felipe Massa as well as two Mexican drivers, Force India’s Sergio Perez and Sauber’s Esteban Gutierrez attended an informal question-and-answer session with fans from 6 to 7 p.m. at the iconic Gibson Showroom at 3601 S. Congress Ave., in the Penn Station complex in South Austin.
CNBC’s Brian Sullivan was the lively host for the Fan Forum, which was kicked off with a presentation of brand new Gibson guitars to each of the drivers.
Following that, several of the 200 and 300 registered guests began pelting the drivers a variety of questions regarding the current season, their favorite tracks, as well as what kind of car each owned as a “personal driver.”
While they drivers acknowledged the United States Grand Prix currently serves as the “home race” for them, since it’s the one closest to where most of their family and personal friends lived, they all welcomed the return of the Mexican Grand Prix to the racing schedule to the 2015 Formula One calendar.
“I don’t really think it will take that many fans away from Austin race though,” said Gutierrez.“I think all of my Mexican fans will be delighted to have two races where they can come and watch me race next year, not just one.”
Photos: Infiniti GP and Peter Hubbard