Hitting the Apex: Circuit of the Americas

It’s Austin Race Week! Read on for everything you need to know about the Circuit of the Americas.

Written by Mees Drijgers

October 21, 2023

The Circuit of the Americas, often referred to as COTA, is a motor racing circuit located near Austin, Texas, the United States. Initial plans to build a new circuit were first proposed in July 2010 by promotor Tavo Hellmund. Hellmund designed the initial layout together with Texan motorcycle world champion Kevin Schwantz, and F1 circuit designer Hermann Tilke. The final circuit masterplan was also designed by Tilke, in collaboration with American architectural firm HKS.

McLaren on track at Circuit of the Americas (Photo via @mclaren on Instagram)

On the 21st of October 2012, the track was officially opened by 1978 F1 champion Mario Andretti, who ran the ceremonial first laps in a Lotus. One month later, the Circuit of the Americas hosted its first ever F1 Grand Prix on the 18th of November. COTA became the 10th different track in America to host a round of the Formula 1 World Championship, however it was the very first track that was purpose-built for the occasion. Next to F1, the track has been host to other racing series such as MotoGP, IMSA, and more recently, NASCAR. Due to damage to the drainage system and sinking soil around parts of the track, it has been resurfaced at least twice in the last 4 years.

 

GENERAL INFORMATION

  • Track distance: 5.513 km / 3.425 miles

  • DRS zones: 2

  • Corners: 20

  • Elevation: 30.9 metres

  • Laps: 56

  • Race lap record: 1:36.169 Charles Leclerc (2019)

  • Direction: anti-clockwise

According to F1.com, COTA configuration for this year is as follows:

 

PREVIOUS TYRE COMPOUNDS

  • Selected compounds in 2022: C4 (soft) C3 (medium) C2 (hard)

  • Selected compounds in 2021: C4 (soft) C3 (medium) C2 (hard)

 

Lewis Hamilton is the most successful driver at the circuit with a total of 5 wins. Mercedes is the best-performing constructor at the track, winning the US GP 5 times. Lewis Hamilton has the pole position record at the track with 3 poles to his name.

McLaren on track at the Circuit of the Americas (Photo via @mclaren on Instagram)

COTA shares many similarities with other race tracks featured on the F1 calendar. The track’s Turn 3 through to Turn 6 resemble both Silverstone’s speedy Maggotts and Becketts and the S Curves at Suzuka. Turns 12 through 15 at COTA resemble Hockheim’s stadium section, while inspiration has also been taken from Istanbul Park’s Turn 8. The circuit also features a considerable elevation change, with the uphill run into Turn 1 often offering many overtaking opportunities.

PREVIOUS WINNERS

  • 2022 Max Verstappen

  • 2021 Max Verstappen

  • 2019 Valtteri Bottas

  • 2018 Kimi Räikkönen

  • 2017 Lewis Hamilton

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Mees was introduced to the world of F1 by one of her friends in July 2020 and hasn’t missed a race weekend since. Her favourite drivers are Alex Albon, Lewis Hamilton, Oscar Piastri, and George Russell; outside of F1, she also actively supports Liam Lawson and Callum Ilott. She specialises in writing about F2, but is looking to specialise in FE and IndyCar as well, after starting to watch both series in 2022. After getting her Bachelor’s degree in English Language and Culture, she is currently getting MA degrees in Translation and English Literature & Culture. When she’s not watching motorsport, she’s either watching football matches (preferably Real Madrid), reading a book, or watching streams on Twitch.

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