With many of the additions to the Formula One calendar in recent years flattering to deceive, it was easy to be skeptical of the quality of the new track in Austin before wheels had been turned in anger.
But the Circuit of the Americas bucked the worrying trend that had been set by the likes of Bahrain, Korea and Abu Dhabi and won the hearts of the sport as it immediately established itself as a favourite of fans and drivers alike.
A mixture of big elevation changes, fast sweeping corners and a low grip surface contrived to catch out many drivers over the course of the weekend, and despite fears beforehand about how good a race the track would throw up, the circuit produced one of the best Grands Prix of the year with action all the way through the field.
The trio of Hermann Tilke, Tavo Hellmund and Kevin Schwantz, as well as everyone else responsible for building the track were taking a gamble by lifting corners from other tracks around the world. Remakes normally fall flat on their faces when compared to the originals, but the various replicas of corners worked well and contributed to a fantastic layout.
The Becketts section looked fantastic and produced a real test for the drivers, whilst the run-up to the first corner which was reminiscent of turn one at the old Osterreichring was visually stunning and produced good racing throughout the Grand Prix. Turn 19 was just as challenging as its mirror image at Istanbul Park’s turn 8 and even the copy of Hockenheim’s stadium section, which had looked noticeably out of place from the track maps produced some good moments and added to the circuit’s appeal.
There were a few things that could have been different. Turns 8 and 9 could be removed to allow a faster run and a better passing opportunity into the hairpin, which could be more open to allow a driver to get a good run on the car in front coming onto the back straight, making the opportunity to pass into turn 12 less reliant on good traction. Some work could also be done to the run-off areas, namely installing gravel traps at turns one, sixteen and nineteen to punish mistakes made in those areas of the track.
However those are only minor concerns and do nothing to take away from the quality of the circuit. All things considered, the Circuit of the Americas proved to be a fantastic circuit in a country that fully deserves to be a part of the Formula One World Championship and threw up a thrilling race for the fans that travelled to Austin.
It proved to be a worthy addition to the sport, and with a ten-year contract to host the United States Grand Prix, it looks set to provide many a good race over the coming years.