Formula 1 races were run in the USA from the 1960s until 1991 and then there was a break for 9 years when no event was held. In 2000, F1 returned to the country and the races were held at Indianapolis between 2000 and 2007, after which financial considerations saw the US organisers declining to run further events.

In 2010, the decision to run a round in the USA was made and Austin, Texas, was awarded a 10-year contract for which it would be required to build a new track conforming to all FIA requirements for F1 racing. To ensure this, the German F1 track designer, Hermann Tilke, was commissioned to come up with a layout for what would become the Circuit of the Americas (COTA), the only purpose-built F1 circuit in the country. The first F1 event – the US Grand Prix – was run at COTA last year and it also hosts events such as V8 Supercars, GRAND-AM Road Racing, American Le Mans and the FIA World Endurance Championships.

The track on the 607-hectare site is 5.513 kms long with 20 turns and the cars run counter-clockwise. Patterned after some of the world’s iconic F1 circuits, COTA has remarkable elevation changes and a number of challenging turns. The massive main grandstand has permanent seating for up to 9,000 spectators and around the site are parking spaces for up to 25,000 vehicles.

The racers will do 56 laps which corresponds to a total distance of about 308 kms. The first lap record was established by Sebastian Vettel last year as 1 minute 39.347 seconds.

“It’s really difficult to get it right with the tyres here as the track surface is very smooth and the compounds are very hard. Therefore the tyres are lasting a long time and a lot of people will try to manage only one stop on Sunday,” said Nico Rosberg of the Mercedes-AMG team.

Last year, cold weather made getting tyres up to optimum working temperature difficult, which made it challenging for the drivers.

The race, which is the second last round of the 2013 championship, starts at 1 pm on Sunday in America but it will be 3 am Monday morning in Malaysia.

[Chips Yap]

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