State Capital Houston, Texas hosts the Circuit of the Americas (COTA), the first track built in the United States with Formula One as its main purpose. First introduced to the Formula One Grand Prix in 2012, the Circuit of the Americas was one of only a handful of tracks that was driven counterclockwise, other similar tracks include the Marina Bay City Circuit in Singapore.
The layout of the circuit was created by Travo Hellmun and 1993 Motorcycle World Champion Kevin Schwantz, however they were also assisted by Hermann Tilke, architect of famous circuits such as the Istanbul Park Circuit and Marina Bay City Circuit. Well known for making circuits extremely exciting for both the drivers and the audience, the Circuit of the Americas was no different as it adapted to the contours of the land in a similar style to European circuits, creating long uphill climbs, tight hairpin turns, apexes and blind corners. Truly a thrilling experience! As a result, and in addition to being run counterclockwise, the circuit is very physically and mentally demanding for the drivers, especially with causing stress to their bodies with the alternative g-forces being pushed on the drivers’ bodies.
The circuit was designed to put the audience's focus on the track, however that doesn’t mean it’s not a memorable setting for everyone. One of the track’s most iconic features is it’s 77 meter (251 feet) tall observatory tower, kitted out with glass railings and partial glass floor to give a 360 degree panorama of both the circuit as well as downtown Houston. Designed by Juan Miró and Miguel Rivera, the observation tower mimics the red streaks of trailing tail lights of race cars with 18 red steel tubes creating a veil down the back of the tower. Similarly to Formula One cars, the observation tower was designed to be ‘very strong and very light, like a F1 car’.
Drawing inspiration from famous circuits such as Silverstone, the Circuit of the Americas includes a similar sequence of turns as the Maggots and Becketts sequence featured in Silverstone as well as similarities to the Istanbul Park Circuit. It is clear that Tilke took heavy influence from his own previous designs of tracks and the Circuit of the Americas is living up to the standards of demanding tracks even from the start with a steep climb before the drivers make the first turn. Later in the course, a tight triple apex right hander can throw off many drivers, especially if they are not used to the counterclockwise run, at turn 16. 17 and 18.
We expect an exciting and tense race this weekend and will be watching our favourites as they race round the circuit in Houston hopefully finishing with as memorable of a race as the setting.