Max Verstappen: “The first time I drove at COTA was just after making my F1 debut”


Credit: Mark Thompson/Getty Images - Red Bull Content Pool

Red Bull Racing driver Max Verstappen says the Circuit of the Americas (COTA) is a fantastic track to drive, as it incorporates the best bits of other circuits, as well as having its own individual nuances.

The Dutchman has fond memories of driving at the Texas track, as only his second ever outing in a Formula 1 car during a race weekend, took place during Free Practice 1 at that very venue in 2014, having made his Formula 1 debut with Scuderia Toro Rosso in Japan, just two rounds earlier.

It was a tricky introduction to the sport for the young Dutchman, who had to endure wet conditions throughout the session, but he was every bit up to the challenge.

“The first time I drove at COTA was just after making my Formula One debut in Japan in 2014. It rained in the morning so I went out on intermediates. It’s a hard track to learn in the dry and the 1 hour 30 minutes in the wet didn’t help.

“It is a really good circuit to drive though and I enjoyed my first experience regardless, especially the first sector.”

The 2015 United States Grand Prix was another race that sticks in Verstappen’s mind, as he equaled his best ever result in Formula 1 at the time, with a strong fourth place in tricky wet to dry conditions.

A gamble on strategy, pitting for a fresh set of soft tyres that would have to last him until the end of the grand prix, when a safety car was deployed mid-way through the race, helped the Dutchman to the career best equaling result, and Verstappen was over the moon with his performance at the time.

“In 2015 I finished 4th in very wet conditions. There was so much water but I still had a really fun race as I like driving in the wet. Even when it started to dry it made things a bit more interesting in the latter stages.”

Verstappen is a huge fan of the COTA track, with Turn 1 being his favourite section, as he says it is a lot of fun to take on.

“COTA has elements of other circuits from the F1 calendar, for example Silverstone, but it also has its own unique features. It’s shorter and faster than other tracks with a similar layout.

“Turn 1 is a really fun corner. You can brake very late as you head up the hill but then hitting the apex is hard as you’re literally blind. It takes a few laps to get your references on where to turn in.”

Red Bull will be hoping to continue their good run of form from the last two races at the United States Grand Prix, and once again be able to take the challenge to the Mercedes AMG Petronas Formula One Team and Scuderia Ferrari for that win.