The Racing Director of the McLaren Honda Formula One Team Eric Boullier believes that there are few better places on the Formula 1 calendar than the Circuit of the Americas.
The Frenchman paid tribute to the increasing reputation the venue has gained since its inaugural race in 2012, the track helping to bolster the previously diminishing profile of Formula 1 in the United States.
“The United States Grand Prix has built an impressive reputation since ‘COTA’ hosted its first race there in 2012, and it’s fast becoming one of the flagship events on the Formula 1 calendar.” Boullier commented, speaking ahead of this weekend’s Grand Prix weekend.
“Austin is a buzzing host city, with plenty going on for fans and teams to enjoy, and a great atmosphere thanks to the Austinites that really embrace the Formula 1 circus coming to town every year.”
Boullier revealed that his excitement has grown at the prospect of seeing the new, faster breed of Formula cars attack the sweeping corners – especially the technical Sector 1, which borrows heavily from Suzuka.
“For the drivers, it’s a fantastic circuit, and one on which I – along with thousands of fans, I’m sure – am intrigued to see the speeds the new cars can reach down the long straights and through the sweeping bends.”
However, it’s not just the technical aspect of the track that makes Austin special in Boullier’s view, the tendency for adverse weather conditions can shuffle the pack, as shown in 2015 – a race that saw Jenson Button take a welcome sixth place for the team.
“Watching the drivers tackle the steep uphill climb to the first corner is becoming one of the iconic sights of the US Grand Prix and the complexities of the circuit make for great racing.”
“To top it off, the weather is notoriously changeable which means the form book can often be ripped up from one day to the next.”
Boullier will be keen for a repeat of the 2015 success, after a pointless escapade in Suzuka. The 43-year-old has tasted success at the track before, he was Team Principal of the now defunct Lotus F1 Team when compatriot Romain Grosjean earned a superb second place finish in 2013.
Looking at the wider picture, Boullier believes that the event will be special for Liberty Media, the new owners of the Formula One Group.
“Given that our sport’s organisers are from the US, I’m really looking forward to seeing the show they put on at their ‘home’ venue and I think we can expect a pretty exciting spectacle.”
“The atmosphere there is always great, we get a huge welcome from the American fans – more and more of whom seem to be falling in love with our sport year after year – and the whole team loves returning to the USA.”
“We are all ‘gearheads’ and racers at heart, and there’s no better place to go racing than at COTA.”