Home  //  Circuit Guides Formula 1 United States (Austin)
Written by @Damien_Marquez   
Wednesday, 14 November 2012 20:59

Why go?

A purpose-built circuit designed for Formula 1 in Austin is probably America's best effort to bring the sport to US audiences in the land of NASCAR. The Circuit of the Americas (COTA) looks impressive and the capital of Texas, known for its alternative lifestyle, will suit the promotional and party atmosphere. COTA will also welcome MotoGP and the V8 Supercars in 2013.

The track should be a hit for drivers and spectators alike. Turn 1 is steep, blind and wide, Turns 3-4-5 are reminiscent of Silverstone's Maggotts/Becketts corners and a triple-apex complex at the end of the lap not too dissimilar to Turn 8 at Istanbul Park.

The Tower Amphitheater (Image: JEAN MICHEL LE MEUR / DPPI for Renault Sport F1)

The city itself is liberal and forward thinking. Outside America, it is mostly known for SXSW, its annual music, film and interactive festival. The grand prix weekend should feel supercharged with the addition of the Austin Fan Fest which will welcome Flo Rida, Nelly, Aerosmith and more.



1. Location
2. Money matters
3. Ticket prices
4. Which grandstand to choose
5. Tips & recommendations
6. Useful websites to prepare your trip to Austin


1. Location

COTA is located South East of downtown Austin. Without traffic, it takes about 25 minutes by car and just 1 hour for a bicycle ride to the track.

There are free shuttle services for F1 ticket holders operating between the city and the circuit as well as services from park-and-ride locations. Inaugural grands prix always experience logistic glitches, so plan for a 90 minutes to two hour journey to and from the track.

Catch the shuttle from:
- The corner of 15th and Trinity Streets
- The Travis County Expo Center (7311 Decker Lane)

The city has also 750 taxis and 250 limousines available during the weekend.

Coming from outside the US, either fly direct to Austin via Atlanta or to Houston then drive to Austin. These seems to be the most convenient routes.

View from Turn 4 Grandstand (Image: Vodafone McLaren Mercedes)

2. Money matters

Transport: the taxi ride from the airport (if landing in Austin) costs about $30 / £20 / €25. Public transport costs a maximum of $2.75 / £1.80 / €2.20 per ride with cheaper options depending on how much you intend to use public transport during your stay. You won't even need to bother with that if staying downtown as there are free shuttles to COTA for F1 ticket holders and everything else should be reachable by foot.

Accommodation: Expect to pay a minimum of $150 / £100 / €120 per night outside of Austin, a minimum of $180 / £120 / €150 in Round Rock and $400 / £250 / €320 in the city.


3. Ticket prices

This is arguably the most complex pricing structure on the F1 calendar. Premium grandstand tickets can only be bought by the holder of a Personal Seat License. This one time payment entitles the PSL owner to the right to purchase a premium grandstand ticket annually, for up to 15 years. PSL holders also have priority to purchase on-site parking.

COTA expects to sell all of the PSL by 2014. In 2012 some seats at Turn 1 and Turn 15 whose PSL had not been sold were available to the general public. Organisers do not expect this to happen again from 2013 onwards. It is worth noting a PSL is transferable and can be sold to someone else.

3 Day Passes for other grandstands and general admission are sold out for the 2012 edition. Zones in blue on the map below are general admission viewing areas.

Image: Circuit Of The Americas LLC

4. Which grandstand to choose?

The track is magnificent but it is the Turn 3-6 section that will best display the ability of an F1 car to find grip through the sudden changes of direction. The best place to view this is from the Turn 5 Grandstand. If sold out, choose a seat at the Turn 4 Grandstand and if the latter is not available then Turn 3 Grandstand (which has a foot bridge blocking the view of the cars coming from Turn 2).

Turn 6 and Turn 9 Grandstands will offer similar but far less dramatic views. The cars will lose speed going through Turns 7-9 which have a greater radiant than Turns 3-6. Turn 11 and the main straight can also be seen from there.

Image: Alastair Staley/LAT Photographic for Williams F1

The second most interesting point is the steep climb to Turn 1, a blind apex corner which should provide the most overtaking opportunities after Turn 12 (located at the end of the DRS zone). The view from the Turn 1 Grandstand is quite spectacular as it offers the possibility to have a glimpse of the cars going through the triple apex sequence of Turns 16-17-18 prior to watch them from the last corner, then down to the main straight, up to Turn 1 and down to Turn 2.

Pitlane and Turn 1 general admission (Image: Lorenzo Bellanca/LAT Photographic for Williams F1)

Turn 2 Grandstand, being located after that corner, is actually for watching the multi-apex Turn 16-17-18 section.

The views from the Turn 15 (Corner) and Turn 15 Grandstands are worth considering buying a seat there. Whilst Turns 13 and 14 aren't technically challenging, drivers need to focus on finding the right braking point for Turn 15 and you can expect to see some mistakes there. The low speeds will be of interest to anyone wanting to take pictures. Situated uphill, these grandstands also offer the possibility to follow a car from the Turn 11 hairpin through to Turn 15, in the same the Mercedes Grandstand does at the Hockenheimring.

As usual, the Main Grandstand is for anyone wanting to see the grid preparations, start/finish, pit stops and podium celebrations. Only Loge Seating Area and Club Level are sheltered. There are three video walls on the pit building opposite.

Note: all grandstands have a video wall opposite.

View from Turn 5 Grandstand with Turn 3 Grandstand in the background (Image: JEAN MICHEL LE MEUR / DPPI for Renault Sport F1)


5. Tips & recommendations

As with any inaugural Formula 1 grand prix, remember to be patient. It is normal for logistics mishaps to happen on the first edition of an F1 race. If the Japanese could not get it right at the Fuji Speedway back in 2007, we don't expect anyone will.

Take a jacket. Temperatures will be quite cool at this time of the year in Austin and should be in the low 20 degrees C. It will be sunny though - don't forget the sunscreen.

Check out the list of prohibited items to avoid expensive material being confiscated at the gate (http://circuitoftheamericas.com/prohibited-items).


6. Useful websites to prepare your trip to Austin

circuitoftheamericas.com (tickets and information)
austinracehotels.com (accommodation)
austinraceevents.com (social events during the F1 weekend)
fanvision.com/f1 (portable TV units with choice of on-board cameras, BBC 5 Live or Sky commentary and statistics) Watch our interview for more details.
formula1.com (general information)
austinfanfest.com (downtown parties and concerts during the F1 weekend)


Finally, we would like to thank those who have helped source information about the inaugural event:

- Danielle Crespo of Austin Race Hotels and Austin Race Events (follow @Danielle_Crespo during the 2012 event)
- Richard (@mtb_f1)


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