10 Years of the Formula 1 United States Grand Prix at Circuit of The Americas
After years of switching between various temporary street circuits in the United States, Formula 1 finally found a permanent home in America in 2012 when a brand-new, state-of-the-art, purpose-built facility made its debut on the calendar.
The 20-turn Circuit of The Americas, set on 1,200 acres of rolling countryside in Austin, Texas, became an instant classic. With a high-speed switchback sequence of corners reminiscent of famous bends at Silverstone in the United Kingdom and Suzuka in Japan, drivers were unanimous in their praise of the new venue.
By utilizing the natural landscape, the Circuit’s designers created a 3.41-mile track full of character. The centrepiece of the layout: A steep 133-foot ascent into Turn 1 which has been the star of many race-changing moments throughout the past decade of racing.
Each Grand Prix hosted at COTA has not only witnessed superb racing, but also set standards for spectacular entertainment festivals. From driver introductions hosted by the legendary Michael Buffer to the Dallas Cowboys cheerleaders, Pirelli-branded Stetson hats and world-class performances by music hall-of-famers such as Justin Timberlake, Taylor Swift and Stevie Wonder — plus former President Bill Clinton handing out the winners’ trophies — COTA has established itself as the authentic home of Formula 1 in the United States.
Last season the venue saw one of the highest spectator attendances of any race in the 72-year history of the FIA Formula 1 World Championship. Over 400,000 fans secured the hottest ticket in town to enjoy a brilliant title fight between rivals Lewis Hamilton and Max Verstappen. A number of those were lucky enough to watch from the signature 251-foot observation tower that overlooks the whole of the counter-clockwise layout.
Thanks to the vibrant music scene in downtown Austin, the famous local cuisine (there is literally something for everyone’s tastes in Austin!) and the historic culture of the state of Texas, the sport of Formula 1 has fully embraced racing at COTA in the past decade. Even the F1 Drivers continue to proclaim their love for the United States Grand Prix at COTA for off-track experiences and, of course, the suspenseful on-track action, too.
One of the most memorable races at COTA was the rain-hit event in 2015, which led to a dramatic qualifying on Sunday morning and later that afternoon, Lewis Hamilton’s third win at COTA netted him his third Drivers’ World Championship. He then repeated his title success, securing his sixth crown with a second-place finish at the 2019 race.
Before Hamilton’s sixth crown, 2018 was noted by a hugely popular victory for the ‘Ice Man’, Kimi Räikkönen. At the age of 39, the Finnish driver had waited six long years to reach the top step of the podium again and did so with Ferrari to score the final win of his F1 career.
It’s fitting that COTA is synonymous with championships. Both Red Bull and Mercedes have wrapped up Constructors’ titles here in 2012 and 2017 respectively, and all but one of the nine races held have been won by a World Champion (Hamilton holds the record with five victories).
Circuit of The Americas prepares to welcome Formula 1 back for the 2022 United States Grand Prix on October 21-23, with more fanfare than ever as the track celebrates its 10th birthday and the 10th USGP to be held at COTA. Could 2022 be the scene of another famous title celebration?
Get ready for the party of the decade! Let the drivers pump you up, and see why they love the USGP at COTA in Austin:
Can’t make the race in person? Tune-in live on ESPN, Sunday, October 23 at 2 p.m. CST.