After two Practice sessions at the Austin 400, several drivers spoke to V8Supercars.com.au about their initial impressions of the Circuit of the Americas.
Craig Lowndes, Red Bull Racing Australia:
“It’s a great track, very much a European track in similarstyle to Abu Dhabi. It is fast and flowing, it is hard on the tyre and we arelimited with tyres this weekend so I think you will see the times degrade fromthis point on unless someone is brave enough to use their second set.
“Turn one is exciting, you get the negative Gs going up andup and up and you brake later and later and later and still get to the pointwhere you can go further. We are still finding that point, but it’s a greatfeeling going up and then you have got to get the car stopped and then you goback down. The run down into turn two is so fast, you’re just pulling gears.It’s great!”
Tim Slade, Heavy Haulage Australia Racing:
“The track seems like it provides quite a lot of grip so wehad a bit of rethink on tyre degradation. It probably is not as bad as what wethought and the tyres look alright. It’s just the heat and the nature of the longloaded corners which takes performance out of the tyres rather than actualdegradation.
“The track is different, it’s got a bit of everything, somefast stuff and some slow stuff. Like any new track it takes a while to get yourhead around at first, but I am sure all of us will get on top of it.
“I actually enjoy turn two, down the hill and there is alittle bit of camber and it is quite a fast corner, you are in fourth gear and thenfifth gear on the exit and fighting with the car through there. So that isprobably my favourite corner so far.”
Jason Bright, Team BOC:
I think it is fantastic that a track like this has beenbuilt that has real attitude. A lot of F1 tracks now don’t have this muchattitude. It has got good elevation change, some really fast corners and reallychallenging bits. So I think they have done a fantastic job.
“That first sector is awesome. Turn one is good, but thatnext run down through turn two, three, four and five is a lot of fun. And thesame with the last sector, that long right-hander is really good too because itis dropping away on the exit. Awesome track.
“One minute 34s is probably as fast as you will see today,but in Qualifying I think you will see everyone into the low 33s or high 32s.”
David Reynolds, The Bottle-O Racing:
“It’s fun. You are pretty busy out there, undulations, lotsof different style corners. It is going to be hard to put a good lap together.”
Jonathon Webb, TEKNO Autosports:
“It is an interesting trackbecause it has some fast and flowing stuff early, but at the same stage you getin there hot and it all catches up pretty quick.
“The way they had it before youcould run a bit of kerb and be okay, but with the way they have set it up withthe big, heavy kerbs on the inside it makes it really, really interesting. Itobviously tightens up in the middle and goes from there and it’s not easy toget the car right for that.
“There is a little less grip thanI expected… and the cars are probably not ideally suited to it but we will makeit work.”
Garth Tander, Holden Racing Team:
“It is challenging, it’s like atrack of two halves. In the first sector there is a lot of fast and flowingstuff and then it’s really stop-start.
“Our car is really good in the faststuff but we are losing a lot of time in the slow stuff. So from a set-up pointof view it’s challenging to get the car working in both.
“But the track is good; it’schallenging from a driver’s point of view, it’s challenging from a set-up pointof view. I am a bit concerned about the potential passing opportunities bit wewill wait and see what happens.”
Todd Kelly, Jack Daniel's Racing:
"This is one of the most awesome tracks we've been to as a category.
"We didn't get many laps. A lot of guys were out there on wet tyres because of the issues we have with the amount of tyres we have for Practice. I didn't really get a lap without having to pass two or three cars.
"I got the first half of the circuit half worked out. All of our sector times are quite good. It's just the second half that we need to work out for this next session. We're making a few changes to the car."
James Moffat, Norton 360 Racing:
"It's a great track, especially the first sector where you have the uphill run to Turn One and then downhill with some flowing corners which lead one to another.
"The first session was really about trying to learn the track as quickly and as best as I could."
TonyD’Alberto, Team HIFLEX:
“It’s definitely a unique circuit,something we haven’t seen before. Turn one is pretty surreal – as you approachthe crest up the hill, you just see track in front of you, it’s a very weirdfeeling. It’s like a rollercoaster, almost.
“But it’s a really cool track, the firstsector, all the rights and lefts – you get one a bit wrong and you playcatch up for the next one and the car’s definitely moving around a lot.
“I think racing-wise it’s going to create prettyclose racing, I think everyone’s going to be battling pretty hard so the carswill be fighting hard and I’m on the better end of it!”
ScottMcLaughlin, Fujitsu Racing GRM:
“Amazing. The garages are pretty cool, butwhen you get on the track and you… go up the hill it’s pretty amazing. I’mamazed at the undulation, it’s really cool, and I enjoyed it. It suits me downto a tee. You’ve got to keep the momentum up, it’s quite flowing and I enjoyit, I really do.”