‘We’ve been to Austin just three times, but it’s already got classic status amongst the team. The track is incredibly impressive. When you see Turn 1 for the first time it really surprises you. It’s even steeper than the Raidillon at Spa as it climbs more quickly in a shorter distance. You know about it when you are doing the track walk – it looks like a wall rising up above you, and you are definitely breathless at the top. When you do manage to get there, you go into the complex of flowing fast turns. Along with Maggots-Beckett-Chapel at Silverstone and the Esses in Suzuka, it is one of the best sections of track of the season. Now there has been a lot more racing at the track the surface has rubbered in and I think every driver loves pushing through this complex, even though the first year we visited they compared it to a skating rink as there was so little grip !
‘The paddock is also particularly atmospheric. When you think of the States, you think larger than life, high tech…but the paddock buildings are quite old-style. Unlike some of the new tracks we visit like Abu Dhabi or Shanghai there are no huge buildings, sculpted gardens or giant hospitality units – we are in pre-fabricated buildings that look to have been put in place for the weekend. It’ seems a bit antiquated in comparison, but it just adds to the charm of the place.
‘Then of course we have the spectators. From the very first year the crowds have been amazing. Very passionate, vocal and lots of them, and it’s stayed the same year on year, which is great. There have been lots of Mexicans in the grandstands cheering for their drivers, which has made the atmosphere very good – we will see if there are as many this year as the Mexican Grand Prix is just one week later.
‘Then, last of all, we have the brilliant city of Austin. It’s a lively town and the people are very welcoming. Each night there’s a real party spirit and it gives a very festive ambiance – you feel like you are part of the community celebrating something huge. There are some excellent steakhouses too and a surf n’turf with local steak, crab and lobster is one of the highlights of the week. What’s not to love about that ?’