F1: 2023 USGP at COTA Preview

–by Mark Cipolloni–

Formula 1 heads to America for the second time this season to kick off the USA-Mexico-Brazil tripleheader weekends.

Austin is this year celebrating its 11th anniversary since its inauguration and debut on the
Formula 1 World Championship calendar. Texas’ capital city swiftly established itself as a favorite of the Formula 1 community, owing to its vibrant hub and passionate fan base, while the layout of COTA was a hit among the drivers. It gave Formula 1 the US Grand Prix it had craved for decades,

After more than 440,000 people attended last year’s race across the weekend, that number is unlikely to be topped this season as the track has added no new grandstands

2022 USGP - F1 cars head up the hill toward Turn 1 at the start in front of a massive Turn 1 crowd
2022 USGP – F1 cars head up the hill toward Turn 1 at the start in front of a massive Turn 1 crowd

The city of Austin always embraces F1’s arrival and delivers a brilliant atmosphere throughout the race weekend making it one of the favored stops on the season’s calendar for many team members.

The race isn’t just a popular one with spectators, either, as many of the drivers list it as one of the best circuits on the calendar thanks to its undulating first corner, high-speed changes of direction and challenging finish to the lap. On top of that, there are a number of overtaking spots that make it a good all-round test that often provides exciting racing.

The crowds were massive in 2021 and 2022

Hot Weather Forecast

A zero percent chance of rain is forecast at the Circuit of the Americas Thursday through Sunday.

Temperatures will be in the 90s with light winds. It will be hot.

Fact File: United States Grand Prix

  • The Circuit of the Americas is one of the bumpiest tracks of the year due to subsidence.
  • The bumps also tend to move and change year-on-year. The track is regularly ground down and resurfaced to try and smooth these challenges.
  • Several corners at COTA were inspired by iconic turns from European tracks.
  • These include Turns 3 to 6, which are modelled on the Maggotts and Becketts section of Silverstone. Turns 12 to 15 replicate Hockenheim’s stadium section and Turns 16-18 are similar to Turn 8 at Istanbul Park.
  • The track requires moderately high downforce and has a large DRS effect. That allows teams to run reasonably large wings as a result.
  • The first sector is incredibly challenging and technical. A lot of time can be gained and lost through the interconnected series of corners.
  • COTA is one of nine tracks on the calendar that is fully anticlockwise. The others are: Jeddah, Miami, Imola, Baku, Singapore, Interlagos, Las Vegas, and Yas Marina.
  • It is one of the busiest laps for gear changes, with 70 recorded across one circuit. That is the third highest total of the year, behind only Bahrain and Baku.
  • The entry to Turn 1 features the single biggest corner elevation change of the season. The track has a man-made climb 30 metres upwards in just over 200 metres of track.
  • For comparison, COTA’s Observation Tower measures in at 77 metres tall.
  • Several corners feature wide entries to encourage different lines and promote overtaking. These include Turns 1, 11, and 15.
  • The latter also forces the drivers to brake whilst the car is turning at the same time. This can cause lockups if pushing the tyre over the limit of adhesion.
  • The weather in Texas can be unpredictable, particularly the temperatures. They can vary from single digits on cool mornings to reaching into the 30s on the very warmest days.

Unlocking the Lap

Overtaking: COTA tends to feature a good number of overtakes – with 40 on average being made outside of the first lap and restarts. Some 72 per cent of passes are made using DRS – with the two zones being situated on the runs to Turns One and 12, the latter being the preferred spot for moves.

Safety Cars: The Safety Car has not been used here since 2015 and has only made an appearance four times in total. Virtual Safety Cars are a bit more common, with five uses since its inception. The VSC rate is above average and is also in part due to a retirement rate above the norm.

Strategy: The middle selection of tire compounds – the C2, C3 and C4, will be used for the first of three consecutive race weekends. This is not usually a one-stop race. Ease of overtaking, a short pit-lane delta and high tire degradation are factors that all come into play.

A lap begins with a climb of 90 feet as the cars approach one of the most iconic hairpins on the whole calendar – Turn One. Uphill braking shortens the slow-down distance for the corner, but a very wide entry massively aids wheel-to-wheel battling. The apex is tough to spot, and the exit is tight and tricky as the cars head back downhill.

This immediately feeds into the fast, sweeping sector that takes inspiration from Silverstone’s Maggotts and Becketts sequence. This is a series of seven bends in quick succession, each with their own challenges on the tires and the car. Each is important to lap-time, with the final twist of the sequence deceptively tight.

At the end of the long back straight is Turn 12, another challenging hairpin. This is where most of the passing will happen, aided by a long DRS zone. Judging the braking point for this corner is tricky, and running wide is easy to do. Doing so then compromises the tricky sequence of corners that follow.

Kevin Magnussen on the infamous Turn 1

They say everything is bigger in Texas and Turn 1 certainly lives up to that statement. With a steep uphill approach, how do you master that on lap 1 and manage to overtake during the race without losing the place back through Turn 3 – 6?

Credit: cota_official Instagram

“It’s a pretty unique corner. It becomes very wide towards the apex, you can’t actually see the track as it’s over a crest, and it’s super wide. The apex itself is very narrow so it creates opportunities for a lot of different lines. Overtaking there is a big opportunity with it being straight after a DRS zone as well. There aren’t many corners that have that sort of width to it. It’s kind of easy to lock-up towards the apex because you go over that crest but as you hit the brakes, you’re on that hill so you can brake very hard because of that. After Turn 1, you go downhill again into those ‘esses’ and that’s where following becomes a bit tricky so if you’ve got the position, it’s pretty easy to keep it afterwards because of the high-speed corners.”

Last Year’s USGP – Verstappen defeats Hamilton

Scorching temperatures, sunny skies and packed grandstands at COTA created a spectacular atmosphere for an equally exciting 56-lap USGP Formula 1 race

Lewis Hamilton got the jump on polesitter Max Verstappen at the start, but Red Bull used the undercut to get Verstappen out in front of Hamilton after both pitstops and although Hamilton had the faster tires than Verstappen over the last 20 laps, he was not able to catch the Dutchman and finished 1.33s behind at the flag.

Hamilton couldn’t have done much more there – he closed the gap when he needed to, but found it too hard to follow closely in the dirty air on those last few laps.

Hamilton beats Verstappen to Turn 1 to lead early – Steve Etherington

The win did not look likely with ten laps to go. But the Dutchman managed his tires to perfection.

With the win, Verstappen doubled his championship points leads to 12 with 5 races remaining in the season.

Toto Talks United States

We have a busy couple of weeks coming up as the season heads towards its conclusion, starting with a triple-header in the USA, Mexico and Brazil.

The last round in Qatar was a case of what might have been. As a team, you never want to see your cars collide. It was frustrating to leave a lot of points on the table, particularly as the pace of the car was strong. It was encouraging though to see how the drivers and the team reacted. Both Lewis and George know the team comes first and do not ever intend to jeopardise that. I am sure we will all grow from this moment. We’re now focused on Austin and making sure we get the most out of each upcoming weekend.

It’s always great to race at the Circuit of the Americas. There’s a fantastic atmosphere and the city welcomes F1 with open arms. COTA is one of the most challenging modern tracks and a real thrill for the drivers. We’ll be bringing a modified floor, which is the last significant update we will take to the track this year. It will hopefully bring a small gain but more importantly, is another milestone in setting our development path for W15.

The battle for second in the Constructors’ has become more intense in recent races. We will keep our heads down, keep pushing and aim to score as many points as we can to increase our advantage.

Can Max Verstappen win his 50th F1 race?

On the weekend Max became a triple World Champion, he also broke the record for most laps led in a single season, 739, with five races still remaining in 2023.

Max’s victory in the Qatar Grand Prix was also his 14th consecutive win when starting from pole position, extending what is the longest streak in Formula One history after he broke Michael Schumacher’s record earlier this season.

Max’s next victory will be his 50th in F1, at the age of 26, and will see him fifth on the all-time win list.

Spanish GP winner Max Verstappen

“I’m really looking forward to the race in Austin this weekend, as a Team we have a lot of special memories from there.

“The atmosphere at the track is also like no other, there are so many Oracle Red Bull Racing fans there to cheer us on. It is of course another Sprint race so it could be quite hectic for us, we only have one session to try and find the optimum balance in the car.

“The temperatures look to be high too so I’m expecting another tough race. I’m also excited to see the new special fan designed livery on the car, it’s going to be cool.”

TV Times

All Times Eastern

Friday, October 20, 2023 Location TV Times Network
F1 Academy Practice 1 Austin, TX 9:15am – 10:00am (Live) ESPN News
Formula 1 USGP Practice 1 Austin, TX 1:25pm – 2:30pm (Live) ESPN2
F1 Academy Practice 2 Austin, TX 2:55pm – 3:35pm (Live) ESPN News
Formula 1 USGP Qualifying Austin, TX 4:55pm – 6:00pm (Live) ESPN2
F1 Academy Qualifying 1 & 2 Austin, TX 6:30pm – 7:10pm (Live) ESPN News
Formula 1 USGP Ted’s Qualifying Notebook Austin, TX 7:30pm – 8:00pm (Live Stream) ESPN3
Saturday, October 21, 2023 Location TV Times Network
F1 Academy Race 1 Austin, TX 10:45am (Live) ESPN News
Formula 1 USGP Sprint Race Qualifying Austin, TX 1:25pm – 2:30pm (Live) ESPN News
F1 Academy Race 2 Austin, TX 4:30pm (Live) ESPN News
Formula 1 USGP Sprint Race Austin, TX 5:55pm – 6:30pm (Live) ESPN News
Formula 1 USGP Ted’s Sprint Notebook Austin, TX 7:30pm – 8:00pm (Live Stream) ESPN3
Sunday, October 22, 2023 Location TV Times Network
F1 Academy Race 3 Austin, TX 10:40am – 11:15am (Taped) ESPN News
NASCAR RaceDay Homestead 12:00pm – 1:00pm (Live) FS1
Formula 1 Lenovo USGP Pre-Race Austin, TX 1:30pm – 3:00pm (Live) ABC
Formula 1 Lenovo USGP Countdown to Green Austin, TX 2:00pm – 3:00pm (Live Stream) ESPN Instagram, YouTube, Twitter and Facebook
Formula 1 Lenovo USGP Austin, TX 3:00pm – 5:00pm (Live) ABC
Formula 1 Lenovo USGP Post-Race Austin, TX 5:00pm – 6:00pm (Live Stream) ESPN3
Formula 1 Lenovo USGP Ted’s Race Notebook Austin, TX 6:00pm – 6:30pm (Live Stream) ESPN3
Formula 1 Lenovo USGP Austin, TX 8:30pm – 11:00pm (Replay) ESPN
Formula 1 Lenovo USGP Austin, TX 11:00pm – 1:30am (Replay) ESPN News


Pirelli Tires

“Austin kicks off a series of four races – three of them run consecutively – on the American continent. And it all begins with the United States Grand Prix: a land that is steeped in motorsport tradition but has truly made its F1 presence felt only in the last few years, thanks to all the different initiatives implemented by Liberty Media in a number of different areas.

The Circuit of the Americas has hosted the United States Grand Prix every year since 2012, with the exception of 2020 when it was cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic. I would describe COTA as a complete track, with medium to high levels of downforce. Turn 1, a left-hander, is particularly distinctive at the end of a 22-meter climb, covered within just 200 meters of track distance. It makes the start particularly interesting, with drivers heading in a number of different directions to find the best line. That corner leads into a flowing first sector, characterized by a series of medium to fast corners all the way to the hairpin that is Turn 11. That’s then followed by a long straight leading into the final part of the track, which is instead typified by a series of slower and 90-degree corners.

The forces at work on the tires are mainly lateral, and they are quite well balanced between front and rear, without a specific corner of the car being subjected to particular stress. It’s also important to have good traction in the slow corners. The asphalt is still quite bumpy, despite the partial resurfacing that took place last year. This can lead to the tire sliding very slightly, which is a potential cause of overheating. The degradation seen at Austin is mostly thermal, while graining is quite a rare occurrence, The race has always been held in autumn: a time of year when the weather can be very changeable, even within a very short time span. It’s not uncommon to see alternately sunny and rain days, with a wide range of temperatures.

The Sprint format comes to Austin for the first time this year; another opportunity for a fanbase that is becoming more and more enthusiastic about modern F1 to soak up some spectacular action.”

Pirelli Tires
Pirelli Tires


  • The drivers will have the C2 as P Zero White hard, C3 as P Zero Yellow medium and C4 as P Zero Red soft at the Circuit of the Americas.
  • The Medium and the Hard were used during last year’s race. Race winner Max Verstappen did his first and his final stint on the Mediums, with the middle stint run on the Hard. There were two neutralization with safety cars.
  • Austin will host a ‘Sprint’ weekend for the first time in its history this year. This means that on Friday there will just be one hour of free practice and then qualifying. On Saturday there will be the F1 Sprint itself (preceded by the Shootout to set the Sprint grid) while on Sunday the Grand Prix takes place as usual.
  • This weekend’s race will be the 75th Grand Prix to take place in the United States. A total of 11 different venues have hosted world championship races, with Watkins Glen staging the most Grands Prix – 20 in total – followed by Indianapolis on 19.
  • Austin has hosted the race on 10 occasions previously: five of them have been won by Lewis Hamilton, most recently in 2017. Ten years previously, at the 2007 United States Grand Prix, Lewis won his very first F1 race: held at the time in Indianapolis.
  • Some corners on the Herman Tilke-designed Circuit of the Americas are inspired by famous turns at other renowned tracks. Turns 3 to 6 are reminiscent of the Maggotts-Becketts complex at Silverstone, turns 12 to 15 are inspired by a section of the Hockenheimring, while turns 16 to 18 take after the celebrated turn 8 at Istanbul Park.
  • The F1 Academy will make an appearance alongside Formula 1 for the first time at Austin, to mark its final race of the season. The Pirelli-equipped series for young female drivers will host three races at the Texan track and crown its inaugural champion. Prema Racing’s Marta Garcia currently leads the championship with 235 points, followed by ART Grand Prix driver Lena Buhler on 187 points and MP Motorsport’s Hamda Al Qubaisi on 179 points.
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