Formula 1 machinery has sampled the new Circuit of the Americas facility for the first time. 1978 World Champion Mario Andretti and Lotus F1 reserve driver Jérôme d’Ambrosio got the chance to turn laps around the Texas circuit as part of its ‘First Lap Ceremony’, held ahead of next month’s maiden Grand Prix at the Austin venue.
The pair was joined by a selection of celebrities – including actor / racing driver Patrick Dempsey – as well as F1’s official tyre supplier, Pirelli, as Andretti did the honours by cutting a chequered-flag style ribbon to officially open the circuit, before he turned some laps in his championship-winning Lotus-Cosworth 79.
“The track is phenomenal,” he beamed after his run. “It has all the features that you are looking for, giving you the opportunity to overtake, while negotiating some tighter corners. You can tell a lot of thought has gone into it.
“It’s everything I expected and more!”
D’Ambrosio also had the opportunity to turn a few laps, taking a 2010-spec Renault R30 – bedecked in Lotus colours – around the Hermann Tilke-designed circuit.
“There’s a real buzz about the Circuit of The Americas and it was fantastic to get out on-track,” the Belgian said afterwards.
“It’s a very enjoyable layout with a couple of really good places for overtaking, some long and fast sweeping ‘S’ corners and some really good high-speed changes of direction like Becketts at Silverstone.”
D’Ambrosio’s running was cut shorter than planned because of an engine issue in his car.
Austin’s maiden Grand Prix will come occur between 16-18 November, one week ahead of the season finale, the Brazilian Grand Prix.
It will be the first time that F1 machinery has raced on American soil since the 2007 United States Grand Prix at Indianapolis.
Last week, it was confirmed that the country’s second race, the Grand Prix of America, set to take place on a street circuit layout in New Jersey, would be delayed by a year from its originally scheduled 2013 debut due to construction and permit delays.