Record F1 crowd of 500,000 expected at COTA

This weekend as Formula One rolls into town, the Texan Circuit of the America’s will celebrate 10 years of hosting F1 racing. The inaugural F1 event was held. The inaugural race in 2012 drew a crowd over the weekend numbering 117,429 spectators as Formula One returned to the USA after no Grand Prix racing in the United States for 4 years.

The design and build of COTA was not without significant difficulties. On July 27, 2010, Tavo Hellmund announced plans to build a home for Formula One in the USA on an 890 acre site that had been planned for residential development but was a designated flood plain area.

The US authority FEMA eventually sanctioned the build given the plans to ensure proper drainage was installed.



COTA borrows from F1 classic circuits

Texas Billionaire Red McCombs was the projects biggest investor and wished to call the site “Speed City”, yet the other participants believed they could later sell the naming rights to Sponsors. So the name ‘The Circuit of the Americas was agreed upon.

The 3.426 mile design drew on classic F1 circuit tracks. There was a recreation of the Silverstone ‘Maggotts-Beckets-Chapel sequence, Hockenheims arena section together with a replica of Istanbul’s classic turn 8.

Ahead of this weekends USA GP, circuit promoter Bobby Epstein told Autoweek he was delighted that COTA is about to host its 10th Formula one event.

“We thought it would get to this point because when we built a track specifically to host Formula 1, it’s not an undertaking that’s inexpensive or something done lightly, so you hope it’s going to have a home for more than 10 years.”

“The road to get here is probably not the route we thought it would be—it was certainly rough—and we had some rough years. There were times we probably felt like getting to year 10 might be painful but now I think when we look back we’re very pleased, satisfied and gratified that we’re here to see all the fans supporting us and supporting the sport.”



F1 2026 extension agreed for the Circuit of the Americas

COTA signed a five year extension with Formula One that will now see racing continue at the venue until 2026.

Epstein believes the circuit has been a big hit. “The drivers have received it well, the fans have received it well, and I think it’s (course designer Hermann) Tilke’s greatest design. That’s led to the longevity that I think we’re seeing.

“Vegas has its lights, but COTA is F1’s sporting soul in the US” writes Damien Smith for Motorsport Magazine and The Circuit of the America’s has certainly hosted a number of memorable races over the years.



Classic F1 races already part of COTA history

The inaugural race in 2012 was a drawn out duel between Lewis Hamilton and Sebastian Vettel, though back marker Narain Karthikayan resolved the matter in Hamilton’s favour.

Then in 2015 Nico Rosberg was leading the rain affected race when an unforced error saw hime concede the position to Lewis Hamilton who claimed his third F1 drivers’ title in Texas.

The battle between Max Verstappen and Lewis Hamilton last year was of epic proportions since Hamilton had not won a race since round 10 at the British GP. Verstappen came from behind on an aggressive two stopper to defeat Hamilton on ageing tyres. Something that was to be repeated at the season’s finale in Abu Dhabi.



Record return of US F1 fans

Following the Covid pandemic, the return to COTA last ear was a celebration bigger than any F1 race has experienced in the USA.

Over 400,000 fans flocked to the event and this year’s F1 event breaking the 360,000 record set at the 2016 Mexican GP. This year the crow is set to be even bigger.

Despite the 2022 drivers’ title having been claimed by Verstappen there are battles to yet be won. Red Bull Racing could collect their first constructors’ title in 8 years and Max could equal the all time record for race wins held by Michael Schumacher and Sebastian Vettel.

The capacity at the Circuit of the America’s has been increased from 2021 as Epstein reveals.

“We have been able to order the equipment you need to host a bigger crowd.”

“Rather than just sell more general admission tickets—the hills are already packed with people, which is a wonderful sight—we’ve been able to build grandstands inside the loop, instead of just outside of the track.”



COTA sell out

The weekend sold out months ago and other logistical improvements have been made. Shuttle busses to and from Austin have been increased from 250 to 600 to “sort of create our own mass transit system,” while Elroy Road has finally been expanded to five lanes, which should help traffic flow to the SH130.

Epstein has brought the biggest names in world music to the event in previous years including Elton John, Britney Spears and Taylor Swift. 

This year’s headline acts are Green Day and Ed Sheeran.

The all new ground effect cars should be epic on the Texas circuits as they follow more closely through sector one’s flowing high speed curves. The audience will be the biggest at any global sporting event this year and after years in the Wilderness Formula One has a true American home at the circuit of the Americas.

READ MORE: F1 backs down to team demands

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