Getting Austin-Powered

It’s not fair on those not chosen and no one will readily identify the races that sit at the bottom of the chart for fear of giving offence but it’s an undeniable truth that some grands prix are just more loved than others.

And nestling close to the top of F1’s ‘just makes you happy to be there’ is the United States Grand Prix in Austin. What makes it one of the events everyone in the paddock points to as one of the season’s feelgood waypoints? How about these must-have attributes: fantastic, challenging circuit with multiple overtaking opportunities, passionate, knowledgeable crowd, amazing BBQ, awesome city with superb culture and nightlife, great welcome from the townsfolk, brilliant music venues… did we mention the amazing BBQ?

Anyway, enough of our rambling, it’s far more interesting to listen to Daniel rambling (in a truly terrible ‘wild west’ accent) about how much he loves Austin, and then afterwards have that turned into something sensible from Max. Bottom line: Austin rocks.

Daniel Ricciardo

We know you’re a big fan of the USA but we haven’t got very long here, so in a few short words – short ones, mind – tell us why you love Austin so much?

Hell, I’m gonna take this opportunity to perfect my American accent for y’all! So read this with your best Southern Drawl. Damn, I love the city of Austin and the country of America; I think it’s beautiful.

Firstly, I think it’s one of the best circuits we go to on the calendar for racing. You can pass in four different places. There are some tracks that you struggle to pass on just once, so to have four different opportunities with the shape of the corners and the apexes, everything just creates a real good atmosphere, which encourages you to battle. It encourages you to fight. Fight in the spirit of America, the land of the free and the home of the brave! Boy, I love the feeling of racing at COTA.

It’s not just good for drivers is it? The elevations make it a good event for fans too don’t they?

It’s a great circuit for the spectators. If you get perched up on the hill at Turn 1 you can nearly see the whole circuit. Turn 1 is a great place for the start, for overtaking and pit stops. If there’s racing out of the pits you’re in a prime seat. That’s right! Prime seat! Then you’ve got the COTA Tower. If you know someone, who knows someone, who might just know someone, and you can get up the COTA Tower you’ll have a whole view of Austin, and hell, that’s really something special. 

You’ve done a great job of describing the track in a spectacularly awful ‘good ole boy’ accent. Can you do the same for the city itself?

Boy, don’t get me started on the great city of Austin! I’m not gonna drop names on y’all and give away all the places we go, because I love ’em all, but the food is something special.

I love my ribs, my brisket and boy, they got nachos coming out of their tachitos. What’s a tachito? I have no idea! I feel when I talk in this accent that I become this person. Oh boy, I’m gonna stop this right now, as I got a bit carried away. See y’all in Austin.

Max Verstappen

Well, Max, we didn’t get an awful lot of sense out of your team-mate. Perhaps you can approach this one with a bit more circumspection. What’s special about the Circuit of the Americas?

As always, I am really looking forward to getting back to the US. COTA is really fun to drive. It has long fast straights, slow tight corners and quick flowing sectors, it's all you want from a race track. The trickiest part is probably Turn 1 as you are blind to the apex coming up the hill. When we race in America it is always unique to any other around, as you saw last year with the driver presentation they always go the extra mile.

What about the social side of the race? It’s a big weekend for dining out isn’t it?

While staying in Austin there are so many options for good food, the meat and BBQ restaurants make you venture out and get stuck in. This year I will stop off in Miami for an event on the way to Austin so I’m excited to see a bit more of the country and sample a few of their local dishes.