Texas Review
Formula 1 Aramco United States Grand Prix 2022 qualifying at the Circuit of The Americas in Austin, Texas on October 22, 2022. (Photo: Ralph Arvesen)

Carlos Sainz stormed to pole position in qualifying for the 2022 United States Grand Prix, where grid penalties will see Max Verstappen join him on the front row and the Mercedes start on the second row. Dietrich Mateschitz’s passing cast a shadow over the paddock ahead of qualifying, with the likes of Red Bull Team Principal Christian Horner, Mercedes Team Principal Toto Wolff, and Formula 1 President and CEO Stefano Domenicali paying tribute to the influential Red Bull energy drinks co-founder.

Red Bull vowed to continue on for qualifying, the team this weekend hoping to secure their first constructors’ championship victory since 2013. Sainz topped Q1 and Leclerc Q2, leaving Ferrari front-runners when it came to the top-10 shootout. The Monegasque driver set a provisional pole lap early in Q3, but had a10-place grid penalty incoming for engine changes, while Sergio Perez and Fernando Alonso would be demoted five places apiece. Sainz’s second flying lap however saw him eclipse his team mate with a time of 1m 34.356s, taking Ferrari’s first pole in Austin, with Leclerc 0.065s off in P2 before his penalty kicked in. Max Verstappen finished third in qualifying but will start on the front row, while Perez finished fourth before his penalty.

Lewis Hamilton rounded out the top five but is set for a second row start, while team mate George Russell is set to join him, having qualified sixth. Also shuffling forward will be P7 qualifier Lance Stroll, ahead of McLaren’s Lando Norris. Alonso will drop five places after qualifying ninth on the grid, which will further promote 10th-place qualifier Valtteri Bottas.

Alex Albon qualified 11th for Williams ahead of Aston Martin's Sebastian Vettel, while Pierre Gasly was frustrated with a lack of braking performance as he locked up on the way to P13. Zhou Guanyu seemed safe for Q3 but had his final lap deleted and qualified 14th – which will become 19th once his five-place penalty kicks in. Yuki Tsunoda qualified 15th but is set to be promoted at Zhou's expense. Also to be promoted a place will be Kevin Magnussen, who lost out on a spot in Q2 by 0.018s, while Daniel Ricciardo and Esteban Ocon struggled to P17 and P18, respectively. Mick Schumacher spun on his final Q1 lap and qualified 19th, while Nicholas Latifi qualified last and is set to start 20th for Williams. (Source: F1)

155Carlos SainzFERRARI1:35.2971:35.5901:34.35614
216Charles LeclercFERRARI1:35.7951:35.2461:34.42114
31Max VerstappenRED BULL RACING RBPT1:35.8641:35.2941:34.44815
411Sergio PerezRED BULL RACING RBPT1:36.1631:35.8641:34.64512
544Lewis HamiltonMERCEDES1:36.1481:35.7321:34.94718
663George RussellMERCEDES1:36.1951:35.6921:34.98819
718Lance StrollASTON MARTIN ARAMCO MERCEDES1:36.8601:36.0321:35.59815
84Lando NorrisMCLAREN MERCEDES1:36.4651:36.3411:35.69018
914Fernando AlonsoALPINE RENAULT1:36.4461:35.9881:35.87617
1077Valtteri BottasALFA ROMEO FERRARI1:36.7461:36.3211:36.31918
1123Alexander AlbonWILLIAMS MERCEDES1:36.9321:36.36815
125Sebastian VettelASTON MARTIN ARAMCO MERCEDES1:36.6951:36.39812
1310Pierre GaslyALPHATAURI RBPT1:36.5771:36.74011
1424Zhou GuanyuALFA ROMEO FERRARI1:36.6561:36.97015
1522Yuki TsunodaALPHATAURI RBPT1:36.8081:37.14712
1620Kevin MagnussenHAAS FERRARI1:36.9498
173Daniel RicciardoMCLAREN MERCEDES1:37.0466
1831Esteban OconALPINE RENAULT1:37.0686
1947Mick SchumacherHAAS FERRARI1:37.1118
206Nicholas LatifiWILLIAMS MERCEDES1:37.2448

Formula One (also known as Formula 1 or F1) is the highest class of international racing for open-wheel single-seater formula racing cars sanctioned by the Fédération Internationale de l'Automobile (FIA). The World Drivers' Championship, which became the FIA Formula One World Championship in 1981, has been one of the premier forms of racing around the world since its inaugural season in 1950. The word formula in the name refers to the set of rules to which all participants' cars must conform. A Formula One season consists of a series of races, known as Grands Prix, which take place worldwide on both purpose-built circuits and closed public roads.

A points system is used at Grands Prix to determine two annual World Championships: one for drivers, the other for constructors. Each driver must hold a valid Super License, the highest class of racing license issued by the FIA. The races must run on tracks graded "1" (formerly "A"), the highest grade-rating issued by the FIA.

Formula One cars are the fastest regulated road-course racing cars in the world, owing to very high cornering speeds achieved through the generation of large amounts of aerodynamic downforce. Much of this downforce is generated by front and rear wings, which have the side effect of causing severe turbulence behind each car. The turbulence reduces the downforce generated by a car following directly behind, making it hard to overtake. Major changes to the cars for the 2022 season has seen greater use of ground effect aerodynamics, and modified wings to reduce the turbulence behind the cars, with the goal of making overtaking easier. The cars are dependent on electronics and aerodynamics, suspension and tires. Traction control, launch control, and automatic shifting, plus other electronic driving aids, were first banned in 1994. They were briefly reintroduced in 2001, and have more recently been banned since 2004 and 2008, respectively.

Circuit of the Americas History
This is the first circuit in the US to be purpose-built for Formula One. Both the race and the circuit were proposed in 2010 by promoter Tavo Hellmund and World Champion motorcyclist Kevin Schwantz. Assistance was provided by the Hermann Tilke group, and construction started later that year.

The circuit relies on the State of Texas to fund the $25 million fee charged by Formula One to hold the race every year. For FY2016, a conservative faction in the Texas state legislature proposed a 50% reduction in the contribution of the state to that fee, which would in effect have forced the race to be cancelled, or at least dropped to every-other-year status. That proposal was eventually voted down, but the specter of future attempts by the extremists is omnipresent.

In February 2022, the contract to host the United States Grand Prix at COTA was extended for an additional 5 years through the 2026 season.

Circuit of the Americas Layout
The circuit is built on hilly range land, about 10 miles southeast of Austin. It runs counter-clockwise, placing unusual stress loads on the drivers. The course has four basic sections: the 0.6 km start/finish strait, with a sharp uphill section ending in a 135° lefthander; an eight turn sequence inspired by the Maggotts-Becketts-Chapel section of Silverstone; another sharp hairpin leading onto a 1.1 km back straight; and a final series of tight corners that includes a near replica of turn 8 at Istanbul Park (but taken in the opposite direction).

Inside the turn 8 replica (known here as turns 17 and 18) is an amphitheater, designed for crowds up to 15,000, but somehow they squeezed in 80,000 fans for a Taylor Swift concert, the night before the 2016 United States Grand Prix. Immediately behind the amphitheater stage is a 77 meter (253 ft) tall observation tower and centerpiece, giving views of the track and all of the Austin metro area.

In between turns six and seven, a pair of short connecting roads create smaller courses for testing and lower formulae. With these roads, it is possible for two separate groups to hold events or conduct testing simultaneously.

The track configuration has never changed since the track opened. However, a concert stage for larger acts has now been set up along the back straight, facing the infield and the grandstands above Turn 10. This configuration is capable of accommodating 100,000 fans.

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Circuit of The Americas
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Photos by Ralph Arvesen
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