The Circuit of the Americas in Austin, Texas officially opened last week with less than a month to spare before the Formula 1 American GP is scheduled to take place there. Our first look at the track layout came courtesy of the Codemasters F1 2012 video game a few months ago. The actual track looks even more challenging and technical in person, especially the crazy uphill hairpin Turn 1 that Mario Andretti is calling the track’s “marquee corner.” It’s definitely going to take a talented driver to master COTA and I think there’s going to be a fair amount of passing under braking and in turns. The first official lap of the track was driven by Mario Andretti in the Lotus 79 race car that he drove to become the F1 World Champion in 1978. The second lap was done by Lotus test driver Jerome D’Ambrosio in a current Lotus F1 car. D’Ambrosio’s lap gives us a good idea of what the F1 race in a couple of weekends is going to look like. Here is D’Ambrosio’s lap with his commentary.
This second video is the full on-board footage of Mario Andetti’s lap and D’Ambrosio’s lap in HD. Unfortunately embedding was disabled so you’ll have to click over to YouTube to watch it:
Here’s the track map again just so you don’t get lost with the on-board footage like I did: