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United States preview quotes - Williams, Sauber & more

29 Oct 2014

Round 17 of the 2014 FIA Formula One World Championship sees the teams and drivers head across the Atlantic to the much-lauded Circuit of The Americas in Austin, Texas. As the season builds towards its climax, those involved in the 2014 Formula 1 United States Grand Prix discuss their prospects for the weekend ahead...

Red Bull

Sebastian Vettel

2013 Qualifying - 1st, 2013 Race - 1st

"Austin is a fun city where you get a real feel for the Texan lifestyle and traditions and get to race on a great track. The Circuit of The Americas is a track I like a lot; it has 20 corners and we drive it anti-clockwise. The start/finish straight has a steep incline up to the first corner and is the trademark of the track. For us that means the braking starts uphill, which is not easy and locking the front tyres could be a problem. A lot of the corner combinations remind me of other famous circuits on the race calendar. For example the fast combination during the first part of the track feels like Silverstone and Suzuka. The famous Maggotts and Becketts passages were used as a model for this part of the track and the drivers enjoy the extremely fast turns, when the car is balanced right. Also corners 12 and 15, this section was taken from the Motodrom in Hockenheim. It is a slower part of the track, and is designed to create more of a stadium atmosphere. The long bend also reminds of the famous Turn 8 in Istanbul."

Daniel Ricciardo

2013 Qualifying - 11th, 2013 Race - 11th

"Hand on heart, this is probably the date on the calendar I look forward to the most. I've loved every minute of being in Austin: when they picked this place for the US Grand Prix, they absolutely nailed it. The city is awesome. I love listening to live music and this is a great place for that, plus Texas feels like real America, and that's something I've really enjoyed just sinking into the last two seasons. And then, there's the important bit. The Circuit of The Americas, in my opinion, is the best of the new breed of circuits. The nature of the corners is interesting. It's also a very busy track where you don't get much respite. The first sector is very special and that first turn, blind up the big hill is like nothing else in F1. It's also a good example of the excitement a late apex can create: you can have a really good lunge there. They've done a very good job."


Romain Grosjean

2013 Qualifying - 3rd, 2013 Race - 2nd

"It's amazing just how quickly this season has passed, even if it seemed a long, hard slog at times. We head to Austin, Brazil and Abu Dhabi determined to get the most we can from the race weekends and also using some of the practice time to evaluate different aspects of the car to gain more data for 2015. [Austin] is quite a balanced circuit in that you don't need one particular thing over another for the car to perform well. In the first year the challenge was finding the level of grip we want and we did see the same to a certain extent last year too. This year, we should be helped a bit by the race being a couple of weeks earlier, but we're always wanting more grip! The gradient up to Turn 1 is really something and it makes for a fun first corner when you're in the car. It's a really well presented facility with an interesting circuit layout."

Pastor Maldonado

2013 Qualifying - 18th, 2013 Race - 17th

"Austin is a good track, it's a challenging layout which is good to drive and it's an enjoyable event. The first turn is quite something with its very steep climb and the rest of the lap flows well. The atmosphere at the circuit is really special, even for the first time we visited. It's great to see the RVs at the side of the track and people staying at the circuit to enjoy the full weekend. The circuit can be a difficult one for tyres and we had some unusual delays and interruptions on the Friday last year so it will be interesting to see what happens this time. Certainly, there can be a variety with the weather and in the past we've seen it be quite cold at the start of the day. The race is earlier this season so let's see how that makes a difference.

"Obviously we want to perform better than we did in Sochi. That was a difficult weekend for many reasons. We think the Austin layout should suit our car a bit better so that's a positive. Hopefully we won't have any more technical issues. I know we'll have good support from the fans so we'll be pushing for a good result."

Federico Gastaldi, Lotus deputy team principal

"It is a tremendous location to race at. There are great fans from the US and Mexico mainly, but also from all over the world. The track is challenging, the drivers and fans love it and of course the US is a major, but largely untapped marketplace for F1. It will take momentum and many more US Grands Prix for F1 to be fully embraced but there is a great will from Lotus F1 Team to reach out to the US race fans and create a special relationship. We hope to put on a great show in Austin next weekend."

Nick Chester, Lotus technical director

"I think we should certainly be better than in Sochi. It's not so much a power track as some of the circuits we've been to. It's got some high-speed corners that we prefer so it's fair to say we're looking forward to it. [The new nose] will be for evaluation and aero data logging. It's something we're doing as part of our preparations for the E23 Hybrid, next year's car. It won't be the definite launch E23 nose but it is an E23-style nose that we are putting on an E22 for evaluation. We don't expect it to perform as such on the current car as it hasn't been optimised for the E22 but it will still be an interesting comparison."

Force India

Nico Hulkenberg

2013 Qualifying - 4th, 2013 Race - 6th

"I remember that as soon as I drove in Austin my first thought was that it was an amazing circuit. It's fun to drive, with lots of different kinds of corners, and it's one of the best tracks from the new generation of circuits. It's very easy to find a rhythm and the tarmac is very smooth, which makes it very nice to drive. Away from the track, Austin is a venue everybody enjoys visiting. It's not the biggest city, but there is a good atmosphere and they love Formula One.

"I've had good results in Austin [P8 in 2012 and P6 in 2013] so I am feeling upbeat about this weekend. It's clear that some teams ahead of us have made a step forward recently, but we know that we can race well. I think it's realistic to target points again this weekend and try to close the gap to fifth place."

Sergio Perez

2013 Qualifying - 7th, 2013 Race - 7th

"Austin is a great race and because it's so close to Mexico it feels like my ‘home' race. There are usually a lot of Mexican fans and you feel a lot of support because the grandstands are full and there are always a lot of Mexican flags. I enjoy the track, especially the first sector and the uphill turn one, which is quite unusual. You can brake extremely late for this corner and it's a good overtaking opportunity. From there you go into the quick corners: turns three, four and five, which are a lot of fun to drive.

"I arrive in Austin feeling positive. I've scored points in every race since the summer break – five races in a row – and I think we've maximised what we could get out of those races. We've been racing hard, taking some chances, and making some excellent decisions with the strategy so hopefully we can continue to do so in the next few races."

Dr Vijay Mallya, Force India team principal

"Fifth place is not that far ahead so it's certainly not out of reach. It's been a ding-dong battle all season. As I said before Russia, we're not giving up, whether it's Austin, Sao Paulo, or Abu Dhabi we'll give it everything we have! The final races of the season traditionally can deliver surprises and we must be ready to take any opportunity that comes up. The USA has a long history in Formula One and it seems Austin as a city has continued the tradition of embracing the United States Grand Prix. The grandstands are full, the supporters are passionate and knowledgeable, and there is a party atmosphere in town for the whole week. It's one of my favourite events in the calendar."

Toro Rosso

Jean-Eric Vergne

2013 Qualifying - 16th, 2013 Race - 16th

"I really enjoyed going to Texas, I love the place and on top of that, the Circuit of the Americas itself is a great track to drive. There's a special feel about racing in America and the paddock has a good atmosphere to it. The fans are enthusiastic and there is always plenty of support from all the Mexicans who come to follow this race to boost the local crowd numbers. I'm not sure how our car will perform there, but hopefully we will have a good pace and enjoy a successful weekend. I know the first corner is visually impressive when you look up at it from the pits, but in the car it doesn't feel particularly special. To be competitive here you need all the usual things, good aero downforce and a powerful engine as there is a long straight. There are no special secrets to doing well at this track."

Daniil Kvyat

2013 Qualifying - n/a, 2013 Race - n/a

"I have very good memories of Austin last year. It was a very exciting time for me and now it's hard to believe that already one year has gone by since that weekend in America. I feel like a veteran now! It's a special place for me because that's where I first was part of a Formula One Grand Prix weekend, even if it was only driving the Friday morning session. I was reasonably quick there, maybe a couple of tenths off Daniel (Ricciardo) although I wouldn't be happy with that this time round. It will be good to go back there therefore. The track itself is very nice, fast with lots of challenging high speed corners, which I like. The track has plenty of up and downs with the first section featuring some corners that remind me of Silverstone. I enjoyed going to America last year and I'm looking forward to eating some steak!"

Max Verstappen

"I'm looking forward to being back in the STR9 for the first time since Japan. I missed Sochi because I was in Imola, competing in the penultimate round of the European Formula 3 Championship that weekend. In Hockenheim, the following week, I got one win out of the three races and that meant I ended up third in the championship standings. I still have one more go in an F3 car, as I am taking part in the Macau F3 Grand Prix. It's a really special race, a special track and it is a race I would really like to win, especially as earlier this year I won the Zandvoort Masters, the other "classic" on the F3 calendar. So before coming out to Austin, I was in the simulator for Macau and I also spent some time looking at the Circuit of the Americas. It looks like a fun track to drive with interesting corners like the first one that you have to go into blind. I've never been to Austin, although I've raced karts in the States and been there on holiday. After taking part in FP1 in Suzuka, I had to rush back to Europe, but this time, I will be staying with the team all the way through to Brazil, so I'll be able to learn a lot more, taking part in all the briefings and generally getting to know the team."


Jenson Button

2013 Qualifying - 13th, 2013 Race - 10th

"It'll be good to get to Austin after the three-week break. I really enjoy this circuit; a great mix of a high-speed straight and really fast, technical sections to get your teeth into. It's also one of the few circuits that run anti-clockwise, which makes it a little bit more of a challenge.

"Although this is only our third grand prix in Austin, it feels like we've been going there a lot longer. It's testament to the fans, who are fantastic and always provide a great welcome, and it's already a very popular track amongst the drivers.

"I've had positive results there over the past two years, and our performance in recent races has shown that our pace is improving as we move towards the end of the season, so I'm looking forward to this weekend. Perhaps this track won't suit us quite as well as Sochi did, but it's a similar circuit in terms of set-up so I'm hopeful we can take the fight to our closest rivals. As usual, we'll be pushing to get the maximum out of our car and secure a strong finish for the team in front of the passionate US fans."

Kevin Magnussen

2013 Qualifying - n/a, 2013 Race - n/a

"I'm really intrigued by this circuit; it's already become one of the drivers' favourites and the mix of high-speed corners and elevation changes makes it a really exciting challenge. Although this will be my first time driving on the track here in Austin, I've driven it in the simulator and many of the corners have similarities to corners on other great circuits. Turns Three, Four and Five are very like the fast Maggotts-Becketts section at Silverstone, for example, which I know well, so I'm really looking forward to getting out on track in the car.

"The track has a very long, fast back straight but also lots of complex, high-speed corners, so this weekend the focus will be on finding the best balance and set-up compromise with my engineers as soon as we get started. I've also heard a lot about the famous ‘Austinite' welcome - the fans in the US are always really enthusiastic so there should be a great atmosphere. In Russia we battled hard and came away with a positive result, so despite the three-week break I'm determined to carry that momentum into Austin and hit the ground running, so that we can secure another decent performance for the team."

Eric Boullier, McLaren racing director

"Off the back of our improved pace in Russia, the whole team is looking forward to returning to Austin after a three-week break. It's a very popular track that's already made its mark on the Formula 1 calendar, and the drivers and team personnel alike really enjoy going there. The organisation of the event and the facilities at Austin are very impressive, and both races since its opening have been a success.

"As we move closer to the end of the season we're continuing the development of our car, working flat-out to extract the maximum performance from our package as each race goes by. Our result in Sochi gave us increased confidence, and we come to Austin with the firm intention of building on this recent form with a strong finish for the team and boosting our points buffer over Force India in the constructors' standings. Of course, though, it goes without saying that, despite everything, our thoughts and prayers are firmly with Jules Bianchi and his family as we await news on his condition."


Lewis Hamilton

2013 Qualifying - 5th, 2013 Race - 4th

"Crossing the line on Sunday in Sochi was a really amazing moment. To win the very first Formula 1 Russian Grand Prix and help the team achieve the first constructors' championship for Mercedes-Benz with a one-two finish - it couldn't have got much better. When I went to the factories in Brackley and Brixworth the week afterwards, the atmosphere was just awesome. Everybody has worked so hard to achieve this title and they all deserve to savour the moment. Of course, we still have three races left to decide the drivers' championship - starting in Austin, which is one of the best weekends of the year. A lot of the American side of my family come to the race, plus I won the first ever Formula One Grand Prix at the circuit back in 2012, so it's a special one for me. I really enjoy going there and I'm looking forward to another great race - hopefully ending up with another Stetson hat on the top step of the podium!"

Nico Rosberg

2013 Qualifying - 14th, 2013 Race - 9th

"What a week we had after Russia. Being back at Brackley and Brixworth with a constructors' championship title for Mercedes-Benz - the first one ever, of course - and celebrating with all the people I've watched working flat-out, day and night for nearly five years to achieve this goal - it was just fantastic. I'm really proud to be a part of this team along with all the great people within it, so it's great to see them get such a reward for all their efforts. Now, of course, we target a big finish to the season in the final three races. It's still all to play for in the battle for the drivers' championship and I won't be giving up the fight until the flag drops in Abu Dhabi. Hopefully we can keep the entertainment going right to the end for the fans out there enjoying the contest. The first step comes in Austin, which is a really cool city and a great race track. I haven't had the best races there so far, but I'm determined to change that this year."

Toto Wolff, head of Mercedes-Benz Motorsport

"We were immensely proud to have sealed the first ever Formula One World Constructors' Championship for Mercedes-Benz at the first ever Russian Grand Prix a fortnight ago. The atmosphere since has been fantastic - and rightly so after the years of hard work that everybody has put into this achievement. What is particularly impressive, however, is that among the celebrations there has remained a strong sense of grounding and focus. Not just for the remainder of this season - but for the years to come. Success in Formula One does not come easily and we are determined to ensure that our performance this year is not a one-off but the first of many. For now, though, our priority is to give both drivers the best possible platform for an unhindered fight to the flag in Abu Dhabi. The first step, of course, is Austin - a weekend the whole paddock looks forward to and an important event in terms of bringing Formula One to the United States. The U.S. is the biggest consumer market in the world and the largest global market for Mercedes-Benz; thanks to the race in Austin, we can see that the US is playing a bigger role in our sport, too, with greater interest and investment at many levels. F1 has a passionate fan-base in the USA, which we can see growing all the time: the crowds at the first two races in Austin were absolutely mega, which is very encouraging for the future."

Paddy Lowe, Mercedes team executive director (technical)

"It was fantastic to secure the constructors' championship at the very first Russian Grand Prix - and a great honour for me personally to be able to collect the race trophy on behalf of the team after such an amazing achievement. This is the result of many years of hard work from everybody involved at Brackley, Brixworth and Stuttgart and it was particularly satisfying to see the title clinched with a one-two finish. Lewis produced a flawless drive and Nico a fantastic recovery from the back of the pack, so it was a proud day all round. There have been plenty of celebrations at the factories, which is great to see. When you're so focused on competing in a World Championship battle it can be difficult to take a step back and appreciate what has been achieved. Of course, with three races still to go it's been straight back to business. The drivers' championship has yet to be settled and it is still all to play for with the standings so close. We have the prospect of a dramatic finale with the double-points race in Abu Dhabi and it is unlikely to be decided before that point. Our focus has been very much on providing the drivers with the equipment to compete on equal terms so that the best man may win. Looking first to Austin, it's only the third time we've been there as a sport and it's an event the whole team enjoys. It's an interesting city and we see fantastic support from the American fans. It's also a great racetrack - a good all-round circuit which is demanding of all aspects of the car. As we saw in Russia, a new - or relatively new - track surface can give unpredictable results in terms of tyre performance, so we'll be doing our best to prepare for all eventualities and produce another strong result."


Esteban Gutierrez

2013 Qualifying - 10th, 2013 Race - 13th

"I am looking forward to the United States Grand Prix; it is a great feeling coming to Austin. For me it is a special Grand Prix, because we will have a lot of support from Mexico, as it is currently the race which is closest to my home country. I am looking forward to having great support from our fans there, which gives me extra motivation. The race weekend is always busy, and it requires a lot of energy. The track in Austin is one of my favourites, I love driving there. I like the first sector with a sequence of fast corners, which is similar to a part of the track in Silverstone. As we are still facing a lack of straight line speed, the second part of the track could be a challenge, as it has a long straight. In the last sector there are some technical, slow-speed corners. All in all, it will be crucial to have a good set-up as well as efficient aerodynamics."

Adrian Sutil

2013 Qualifying - 17th, 2013 Race - DNF

"The United States Grand Prix is a great event in a country in which motorsport is hugely important. I have only been to Austin once. It is a very interesting track that offers a bit of everything. After the first slow corner, the track has a sequence of left-right combinations which remind me of the "Esses" in Suzuka. It is a lot of fun driving there. Obviously, a high amount of downforce, as well as engine power, is needed to be fast there. During the race there are many fans, and the city of Austin is also very nice. Some of my friends from the US will come for a visit. For me it is a great event, and I am looking forward to it. We will certainly do our best to get the maximum out of our package."

Giampaolo Dall'Ara, Sauber head of track engineering

"After two race-free weekends the team is off to Austin with some extra energy, ready for the closing stages of the 2014 FIA Formula One World Championship. At this point in the season the cars aren't being upgraded any longer, therefore it is important to keep concentrated and build upon what we've been gathering to date. The track offers some interesting features for the engineers' work, from the winding sector one to the straight in sector two, followed by sector three, which requires good traction and a lot of grip. The tarmac isn't very abrasive, and, despite Pirelli moving away from the harder options by offering medium and soft compounds, we don't expect this to result in a massive amount of pit stops."


Felipe Massa

2013 Qualifying - 15th, 2013 Race - 12th

"The track in Austin is great as there is a real mix of high and low speed corners with some very technical areas. Sector one is very quick, similar to Suzuka, with a long straight which gives us the chance for overtaking. It's a fun track to drive and one where we can have a good result. Austin is also a really great place with such enthusiasm for Formula One so let's hope for a good weekend."

Valtteri Bottas

2013 Qualifying - 9th, 2013 Race - 8th

"Austin is a really cool track, one of the best on the calendar. The city is nice, the fans and atmosphere are great, so it's one of the best places of the season to go to. I have good memories from there as I got my first points in Formula 1 in Austin last season. We are definitely targeting to be on the podium again and extend the advantage we have on Ferrari in the Constructors' points. Everyone is feeling positive about Texas, so it should be fun."

Rob Smedley, Williams head of vehicle performance

"Austin is always a challenge and a really good circuit. It comprises of a good layout including a nice high speed section at the start. A well balanced car is important to make you quick in the first sector. Depending on the tyre compound, the slower sections can have an effect on graining so we have to monitor that. It's a good track to test all aspects of the car. The weather always plays a part as it can be quite cool, but sometimes also very hot. The track improves a lot throughout the race weekend, which means we have to react quickly to these changes. Once again we are aiming for both cars in the points at the end of the race."