"I can't adequately describe how excited I am about competing in my home Grand Prix for the first time. Thankfully, I've been so busy with a whole bunch of PR commitments that I've been able to keep that side of it in check, but now we're just a few days out, the reality is starting to hit me and it feels great. It's a huge deal for me, not only because it makes me extremely proud to be the first American driver to race on US soil since 2007, but also because it's the realisation of a goal that I, and the people around me, have been working towards for effectively 13 years. This weekend is an opportunity to reward their support and commitment as much as my own determination as a race car driver, and I'll be giving it my all.
"I'm pretty happy with how things went in my first two races for the team, in Singapore and Japan. There's a lot to get to grips with at first, before you can really start to build some momentum, but that considered, I was pleased with my relative position at the end of those races. After a race off due to my GP2 schedule, I'm looking forward to picking up where I left off at Suzuka and enjoying a good fight with Will.
"Circuit of The Americas is an awesome track. I've driven it before and it's a real mix of some of the best circuits in the world. It's pretty fast and the frequent elevation changes make it spectacular for racing and spectating. There's going to be an amazing vibe, from the fans and having my family and friends in the crowd, so I really can't wait til we start turning wheels on Friday."
"I'm really excited to be racing in Austin for the first time this weekend. It's a fantastic track with so much going on through the lap and I can't wait to experience the elevation change for myself. The city also sounds like a lot of fun. I do love America and I've spent the past few days training in Florida and getting used to the time difference, so I'm feeling fighting fit and prepared for the next races. It's good to welcome Alex back to the team, and clearly this is a big weekend for him. As you'd expect though, my objective, as always, is to beat my team-mate!"
John Booth, team principal
"It gives us great pleasure to provide any genuine young talent with the opportunity to showcase their potential in one of our cars, particularly in front of their home crowd. Alexander more than earned his stripes in the two races he has competed in for us so far - in Singapore and Japan - and that experience will have equipped him well for the exciting challenge of this weekend's United States Grand Prix. We have been treated to a fascinating battle between team-mates over the past few races and we are sure that, in the nicest possible way - in as much as fiercely competitive drivers can afford - Will is going be keen to spoil Alexander's party this weekend. That spirit of racing is what we are all about as a team, and although there is a championship being decided at the front of the grid, we'll have our own intense battle going on, I'm sure. Alexander is also preparing himself for a very intense weekend ‘off-track'; he has one of the busiest PR schedules I have seen for a driver. Nonetheless, he is a very focused racer and he will find a way to manage the many demands on his time. For our part, we'll be aiming to continue our run of excellent reliability with another two-car finish, while contending with this track's unique characteristics and what is shaping up to be very interesting weather!"
“Austin is the place where I scored my first points so it will always be special to me. It’s also one of my favourite circuits to drive, with fast sweeping corners. Austin as a city is a fantastic place, accompanied by great weather. For me it’s one of the best locations on the calendar.”
“Austin is a beautiful place with a great circuit which has fantastic infrastructure. The circuit is very fun to drive with many fast corners. The first sector is incredible leading into a long straight with the opportunity for overtaking. The first corner is special - the elevation change is incredible and the space available means it’s a great place to pass and it’s hard to defend. The fans really enjoy Formula One and the drivers like to go there.”
Rob Smedley, Head of Performance Engineering
“We head to Austin after not getting all of the points we should have done in Russia, despite having a really good car with great pace. We are in a positive frame of mind and the circuit suits our car so we should have a good race. We need to keep pulling open a gap on Red Bull and the team must keep on fighting to get as many points as possible. Both drivers are coming off the back of really good drives in the last Grand Prix so we should be able to score some decent points.”
“I have good memories of Austin, as last year I did a Friday practice session there and it was all very exciting. It’s a great track, with a lot of elevation changes and fast corners. I really enjoyed driving there.”
“I don’t know much about Austin because I’ve never been there and only driven it on the simulator. The track looks amazing and I think I will really enjoy it there, especially the first sector which looks very fast. From what I’ve heard, it’s one of the best race weekends on the Formula 1 calendar. The whole city gets involved with F1 and I’ve been told there are some really good steakhouses…”
Paul Hembery, motorsport director
“The United States always offers us a very warm welcome and a fantastic race weekend. Like all the other stakeholders in Formula One, America is a crucial market for us so it’s very important for us to have a race there. It’s a track that contains a bit of everything in terms of what it asks from the tyres, so we’ve brought the soft and medium compounds, which are versatile enough to cope with a wide range of demands and weather conditions. With the driver’s championship entering a decisive phase there’s obviously going to be a lot of attention on the race, and we can think of no better place to showcase Formula One. The track configuration and tyre choice offer plenty of opportunities for overtaking and strategy, with a reasonably short pit lane time loss too, so we could be on for quite an unpredictable race, which is what people want to see. It’s rarely an open and shut competition, as we saw from the wide variety of strategies used last year.”
“It was obviously disappointing to lose out on 10th place in Sochi, but considering it was a circuit that we knew wouldn’t suit our package, we can’t be too disappointed with the result and the positive reliability of the car all weekend.
“Now we move to Austin which is a very different proposition. We know it’ll be difficult for us in some of the areas we’ve already seen this year, but we will definitely be working flat out to achieve more progress and another positive result. The track is a hybrid of corners from great circuits all around the world, which makes setting up the car tricky, but a precise, well-balanced car will definitely help you there, so we need to build on those strengths straight away.
“I really enjoy going to Austin - a fantastic atmosphere and a city that absolutely loves its racing. The circuit is really fun to drive because it’s so varied, so you have to keep your focus 100 percent all the way around a lap. I had some great battles with Jenson there last year and I’m hoping for more of the same against our competitors this weekend.”
“Since Sochi I’ve been back at MTC for a couple of days, working hard with my engineers and prepping for the back-to-backs of Austin and Mexico. Although we were lucky on the last lap in Russia, we haven’t had much luck go our way this season so it was encouraging to come away with two points and get both cars to the finish with no issues.
“I’m looking forward to a fun weekend in Austin. The welcome is always incredible and there’s something really special about the city on a race weekend; it really has its own unique charm. The track, too, has firmly become one of the favourites among the drivers because it has a little bit of everything which makes it pretty demanding for us, but very exciting too.
“Last year we really struggled with tyre degradation on the relatively new asphalt, so we need to crack that as soon as we get out on track on Friday and see what we can do to combat it. Circuit of The Americas has long straights, heavy braking, fast corners and some twisty sections, but its flowing nature could play to our package’s strengths. In Russia we saw that anything is possible, so we’ll be pushing hard as usual to make sure we’re in with a fighting chance come the end of the race.”
Eric Boullier, racing director
“We can’t be too pleased with taking home two points at the last Grand Prix in Russia, but it does go some way to validating the relentless hard work being undertaken by every member of the McLaren-Honda team, and the constant strive for better reliability and trouble-free weekends. It also means we go to Austin on the back of an encouraging weekend and hungry for another more positive performance as we near the end of the season.
“Although this is only the fourth time that Formula One has visited Circuit of The Americas, it already feels like another friendly and familiar North American home alongside Montreal, and its popularity has quickly grown among drivers, fans and teams alike.
“Both Fernando and Jenson have made some great starts in the past few races, so it’ll be interesting to see how we fare there with the unique challenge of COTA’s uphill Turn One. Its power-hungry, fast straights and corners definitely won’t be easy on our package, but our car’s strengths lie in the twisty, precise infield sections, so we’ll focus on a set-up to make the most of what we have there. Combined with the warm ‘Austinite’ welcome from the fans and the excitement that always greets us there, we are hoping for more good luck and a solid performance where we can enjoy some battles with our nearest rivals.”
Yasuhisa Arai, Honda R&D senior managing officer - chief officer of motorsport
“We head to Circuit of The Americas with anticipation. It is a highly technical track that provides exciting racing, particularly the jostling for position around Turn One and the high speed esses that follow Turn Two.
“Overall it provides us with a very atmospheric Grand Prix weekend with enthusiastic fans. COTA is also a challenging track for the power unit set-up as the 20 turns vary in character and are infused with undulation.
“Our goal is to gather more data throughout the remaining races, especially from our new ICE introduced in Sochi two weeks ago. The team has confirmed that the development direction is good, so we will now work on fine tuning it for the remaining four races. It will be interesting to see how this will work together with the updated aero package this weekend.”
Tim Goss, technical director
“COTA is a really interesting engineering challenge. It has a mix of fast corners, a long straight and a slow-speed section, and getting the compromise right between these different challenges is the key to maximising your performance.
“The first section is very fast and flowing, through which the car needs a very good front end. You end up putting the aero balance some way forward to help the driver through here. That’s all good and well, but immediately after these fast corners you have a heavy braking area and it’s absolutely essential to get that right. You need to maintain the DRS time delta to the car in front because what comes next is a one-kilometre (0.62-mile) straight and a really good overtaking opportunity; so, even though you may have set up the car for the high-speed section, you need to make sure that it has the rear stability to allow the driver to attack the low-speed corners. It’s a classic compromise that’s difficult to get right.”
“It’s been great to catch up with the team back at the factories and to celebrate together the amazing achievements of this year. I can’t say enough how grateful I am for all the hard work and it’s important that we savour these moments. Now, we head off to Austin, which is definitely one of the highlights of the year for me. I love the States and spend a lot of time over there, so it’s a weekend I always look forward to. I’ve learned from experience that nothing is ever done until it’s done in this sport, so I won’t be taking anything for granted going into the weekend. I’m going into this next race with the same approach I’ve had all year. There are four races left for me to get this championship tied up and as long as it’s done by the time I cross the line in Abu Dhabi that’s what really counts. I’m excited to get out there, give my best and if I can come away with a third Stetson hat that would be unbelievable.”
“Being back at the factories and seeing everyone so happy was just the boost I needed after a tough Sunday in Russia. The whole team deserves this moment and what we’ve achieved together is really amazing. Hopefully this is just the start. With four races left and a big gap to Lewis, it’s clear that the title is a long shot for me now. But it’s not in me to give up or back down, so I’ll be pushing flat out to the end and hopefully having some fun out there in the final few rounds this year. I really want to enjoy the next races, as our Silver Arrow is such a great car and gives me the chance to end the year with a few more wins. Austin is definitely somewhere that you can have fun too, so I’m looking forward to going back there. It’s a great track to drive, I got pole there last year, and I’m coming off the back of a really strong weekend in Russia in terms of my performance, so if I can repeat all of that then I’ll be in a good position. Bring it on!”
Toto Wolff, Head of Mercedes-Benz Motorsport
“It’s been a proud week for everybody in Brackley, Brixworth and Stuttgart. We can talk about chassis and Power Units winning titles. But really it’s about people - and every one of those men and women is a deserved world champion. We now have four races left to make sure our 2015 objectives are complete, with the drivers’ title still on the line. Lewis is now within touching distance - but I know that his focus is only on winning the next race. For Nico, bad luck has played a big part this year and it would be a huge mountain to climb. But he is a fighter and we have seen many times that he will keep pushing until the very end. Of course, there is still a third party in the mix and we, as a team, must make absolutely sure that our drivers have everything they need to make sure it’s a Silver Arrow that comes out on top. Two retirements from the last three races is not up to our standards and we must ensure that every little detail is covered to give them that opportunity.”
Paddy Lowe, Executive Director (Technical)
“It was great to secure our second constructors’ championship in Russia with a great drive from Lewis to take the win. This title is thoroughly deserved by all at Brackley and Brixworth after a fantastic team effort over a number of years. However, it was not sealed entirely in the way we would have wanted after Nico’s retirement unfortunately prevented what looked a likely 1-2 finish. As a result, his push for the drivers’ championship now looks to be a tough task - but you can never give up in this business and we know Nico certainly won’t be doing so. At the same time, we go to Austin with the potential to secure that title with Lewis, who has been in superb form. It’s up to us to provide both drivers with the tools they need to close out a successful end to the campaign. It’s our fourth visit to the Circuit of The Americas, which is a very interesting circuit. Multiple elevation changes, a good variety of corners and a track surface which makes it tricky to understand the tyres, all combine to provide a good challenge. With a growing and enthusiastic fan base from all across the USA watching on, we’ll be looking to tackle that challenge head on and put on a great show for the crowds.”
“At the moment, the part of America I know the most is Austin for the Grand Prix, and it’s a place that I - and I know, my crew, as well - really like to visit. Of course, the USA is such a big place which I would love to explore more and I’m going to get that wish fulfilled pretty soon!
“What do I think of the Circuit of The Americas? It looks great and the first time I walked around it in 2012 I thought wow! The gradient up to turn one 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. It’s great to be at a race where the local character is very evident and that’s certainly the case in Austin, with the fan reception and the American way of presenting events.
“It’s 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 for the past two races too. Every year so far the race has taken place a little earlier, and that’s good as it generally means warmer weather. This is good for many reasons, but wearing my race driving hat it’s good as it helps with tyre warm-up and grip. Grip is something we’ve struggled with in
Austin in the past, so a warmer circuit with a bit more aged track surface should help with that.”
“Austin is a great track, it’s a challenging layout which is refreshing 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. The event is taking place earlier in the year this season so hopefully there’s plenty of sun to burn off any morning fog! 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.
“I think Austin offers us a good opportunity. The circuit shouldn’t pose any particular problems as long as we can get the tyres working as we want. The E23 is a car that generally works well so we have a good baseline to start with. At this point of the year we’re pretty on top of things like set-up and getting the most out of the car so it’s a case of getting the laps and simulations done in practice, qualifying as well as possible then targeting points in the race.
“[Austin is] a really fantastic location with a lot to do. It’s certainly the type of city I’d like to visit even if there wasn’t a race there! It’s a really lively place with a lot going on. Great food, great music and great people are three things I think about when we go to Austin. The fans are superb too. It’s only the fourth time we will visit Austin, but already it’s one event on the calendar that we really look forward to visiting.”
Federico Gastaldi, deputy team principal
“It’s fair to say that myself, the team and pretty much everyone in Formula 1 - at least those I speak to - reckon that Austin is a highlight on the calendar. We arrive to a great welcome and experience a fantastic event with superb support from all the fans. It’s good for Formula 1 to be building its presence in the US as it is a great marketplace for us to be. We’ve also experienced some exciting racing at the Circuit of The Americas. All in all, there’s nothing not to like.”
Nick Chester, technical director
“The circuit has quite an interesting layout with a high speed sector one that has an interesting combination of high-speed corners. Towards the end of the lap there are more slow-speed corners and there is a reasonable back straight. It’s a track that is quite mixed; it is a good technical circuit and one that the drivers like.
“The downforce levels are medium to high. We won’t be using maximum downforce as it would slow us down in the first sector and on the back straight. Regarding the tyres, we will have the medium and soft Pirelli compounds in Austin. The wear will be pretty standard - the tarmac is still relatively smooth - and we are probably expecting a race with two stops but no extreme tyrewear.
“The E23 should go quite well in Austin. It has proved to perform at most tracks and I think that again it should suit the Circuit of The Americas quite well. Hopefully we can qualify in the top 10 and score a good haul of points.”
“I love Austin. Great track, great city, great food, great fans, great people in general, great hotel. Basically... great. For a modern-day circuit with lots of runoff, they’ve done the best job possible. They’ve created a track that’s safe but managed to ensure it’s still fun. It’s probably the best overtaking circuit on the calendar.
“I love live music and I love bars and I particularly love live music in bars - and as that’s what Austin’s all about, it’s the sort of culture I can really appreciate. I’ll also enjoy some beef. Definitely the city to visit if you like ribs or brisket. Amazing stuff.
“We stay out in a hotel on a ranch - which is pretty awesome. There’s a river, a golf course, and yes, the occasional snake. The snakes are OK though. They’re pretty cool. They’re not like Aussie snakes.”
“I made my F1 debut there and that was a big moment in my career. The race last year was I would say unlucky in that we had really good pace but I had to pit for a vibration with the tyre after overtaking Kimi, but yes, I have very positive memories of the circuit.
“I really like racing at COTA; the track is really good. It has a lot of high-speed corners, heavy braking, long straights, a bit of everything really, so it’s great for racing, very enjoyable. Sector One is exciting. There are a lot of high-speed changes of direction. It’s kind of like Maggots-Becketts at Silverstone and it feels great through there in an F1 car. The circuit also has a lot of changes of elevation, which is something I think every driver appreciates. It’s a good track.
“[The city], I like it there. It’s a really good atmosphere. Great food. America does feel different to race in. It’s got its own style, which I like. It’s Texas, it’s cowboy country and it’s good fun.”
"Austin is a great place to race. It has been my home race for several years, before the return of the Mexican Grand Prix, and the circuit is great fun for both fans and drivers. The city is very cool and there is so much happening during Grand Prix week. When I step into the cockpit and see all the Mexican flags and the fans in the stands it’s an incredible boost for me.
"The track has some special parts, especially the first sector and the uphill turn one. You can take a few different lines through the corner and you can brake really late for it, which makes it a good place to overtake. The whole of the first sector is very fun to drive with a lot of quick corners.”
“Of the newer tracks on the calendar I think Austin is probably my favourite. The variation of corners makes it good fun to drive and they’ve designed a very nice facility. The track is smooth and it’s easy to find your rhythm. It's generally a busy weekend on and off the track: Austin is a fun city that really embraces the race and the atmosphere is great.
“The lap is made up of a mixture of corners - high-speed, medium-speed and low-speed. There are also a lot of gradient changes, such as the uphill approach to turn one where it can be tricky to get your brake balance right. Turns three to six are where downforce counts and you need a car that’s responsive to the quick changes of direction. It’s these quick parts of the lap that put high lateral energy through your tyres.
“The DRS is worth quite a lot in Austin and the long straight between turns 11 and 12 is a really good opportunity for overtaking. We should be in good shape and competitive there, which would be the best way to bounce back after my disappointing weekend in Sochi.”
Dr Vijay Mallya, team principal
“The next race in Austin is one of my favourites. They always put on a great event and the fans show lots of enthusiasm for our sport. Luck wasn’t on our side there last year, but there is every reason to believe we can be competitive this year and build on the momentum from Sochi.”