The Infiniti Red Bull Racing team finished first and third last year at the United States Grand Prix, with Sebastian Vettel winning and then team-mate Mark Webber finishing on the podium in third, but a similar result for the German this year at Austin looks unlikely as he looks set to take a grid penalty for using a sixth power unit.
Vettel’s 2014 team-mate and three-time race winner Daniel Ricciardo will be hoping for another strong race on a track he admits looking forward to racing on.
Ricciardo has been looking forward to returning to Austin as he finds both the track and the atmosphere to his liking. The Australian started tenth and finished eleventh in the event twelve months ago while driving for Scuderia Toro Rosso, but is itching to get back on track this year in the Red Bull.
“Hand on heart, this is probably the date on the calendar I look forward to the most,” revealed Ricciardo. “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.”
Team-mate Vettel goes into the weekend with the real threat of being forced to switch to his sixth Renault power unit as the reliability and shelf life of his previous five become critical. However, the four-time World Champion puts the worries behind him, and admits to liking the Austin circuit as it reminds him of epic sections of other circuits from around the world.
“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,” insisted Vettel. “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.”
When talking to Germany’s Auto Motor und Sport, Vettel was critical of the engine rules in Formula 1, and admits he is likely to sit out the qualifying session at Austin.
“The rule is of course completely stupid,” said Vettel. “People are going to turn on their television and see a driver just standing around with nothing to do.
“Maybe you can suggest a way that I can spend Saturday afternoon in Austin,”