We cross the border for the final leg of the last back-to-back of the season, as we go Stateside for Round 19 of the FIA Formula One World Championship. Austin’s popular Circuit of the Americas is a favourite amongst drivers and fans, not least due to its lively off-track atmosphere.
The United States Grand Prix is a new track for both Robert and George, but one that they are looking forward to. Nicholas Latifi will drive his penultimate FP1 of the season, this time in George’s car.
Dave Robson, Senior Race Engineer: “For the second of the back-to-back races, we head north to Austin and the COTA circuit. Since it joined the Formula One calendar, the Circuit of the Americas has been a firm favourite with the drivers and fans alike. The circuit features a series of signature corners as well as the daunting climb up to T1, which adds to the spectacle of the race start.
“The weather in Austin in October can range from very cold to oppressively hot and can change rapidly. Where 2019 ends up in this range of conditions will dictate how the tyres behave and will likely have a large influence on the race result. To cope with the demands of this circuit, Pirelli have again provided the three middle compounds from their range. Although the same compounds as raced in Mexico, their behaviour will be different, and a typical Friday programme will involve understanding their performance at low and high fuel.
“With the end of the 2019 season almost in sight, we begin in earnest our trackside preparations for 2020 with some additional tyres testing on Friday. Pirelli have provided each car with 2 sets of tyres in the 2020 construction and so we can expect to see more running than usual during FP1 and FP2 as the teams begin their preparations ahead of the post-season Abu Dhabi tyre test.
“Nicholas joins us again this weekend, this time driving George’s car in FP1. Our programme will include further aerodynamic testing, 2020 tyre testing, and our usual qualifying and race preparation. If the weather is kind, then Friday could be an extremely busy day.”
Robert Kubica: “I know very little about the track in Austin. I know what I have seen from footage and the simulator, but it will be a new track for me. From what I can see it looks like a challenging circuit, especially the first part of it. However, I am looking forward to a new experience.”
George Russell: “Austin is a track and a race that I have been looking forward to for a very long time. Out of the newer circuits it is definitely the best one out there, it has such an amazing flow to it. It is a track similar to Silverstone, with an incredibly fun first sector. I have been there the last two years and it was always a great atmosphere, so I am really looking forward to it.”
Nicholas Latifi: “Coming off an FP1 last week I feel that I am more in the rhythm of the car, which is important when you only have a limited number of laps in the session. Austin in probably one of the tracks on the calendar that I am most looking forward to driving that I have not yet driven.
“It seems like a track that has a bit of everything and the first sector, with all the fast-flowing corners, is exactly what I love in these high downforce cars. It’s not so often that I get to drive new tracks for the first time so I’m looking forward to that challenge and hopefully I’ll be able to get up to speed quickly.”