Infiniti sent SB Nation contributor Matt Weaver to the United States Grand Prix, giving him a behind-the-scenes look at Sebastian Vettel's attempt to secure a third-consecutive F1 World Driver's Championship. Matt writes about his expectations leading up to his first F1 Grand Prix weekend in the first of several F1 diary entries.
By time you read this, I will most likely be on a plane headed towards Austin, Texas – site of the inaugural Formula 1 United States Grand Prix at Austin.
Like many of you, I've never been to a F1 Grand Prix. My racing knowledge is exclusive to stock cars and Indy car racing. The closest thing to a Formula 1 weekend I've ever experienced is probably the IndyCar Series event at Barber Motorsports Park, and even that will surely pale in comparison.
I never thought I would see a Grand Prix in my lifetime, so I had to say yes when Infiniti offered us the chance to peek behind the curtain of Team Red Bull as they try to capture a third-straight drivers’ championship, with Sebastian Vettel at Circuit of the Americas.
But once again, I've never experienced anything like this. This weekend will be spent learning the inner-workings of Formula 1 and I want to take our readers along for the ride.
First my expectations: I'm coming in to the weekend blind, but there are certain things I expect to remain constant. After all, racing is universal.
Formula 1 fans in the United States are starved for a race to call their own. The U.S. hasn't hosted a Grand Prix in over six years and that took place at Indianapolis – an event somewhat tarnished by tire debates and the amount of money Tony George spent in luring Formula 1 at the expense of the Indy Racing League.
The Circuit of the Americas has no such baggage. This race course was designed to reflect the American spirit and its desire to host the highest-level of motorsports in the world. With that in mind, I expect to see a crowd that rivals even the most-attended American sporting events.
Formula 1 is unlike anything else in motorsports; its closest comparison is likely European soccer or the Olympic Games. While I’ve experienced the sport via Speed, it’s with the concession that our television coverage is just short of minimal.
Speed broadcasts the races with a 30-minute prerace and will include the podium interview only if time permits – this in addition to a 30-minute weekly studio show.
Lastly, I expect this event will be a tremendous success. I think both Formula 1 and its American fans want this race to succeed. Unlike previous attempts to race in the country at Phoenix and Indianapolis, Austin represents a real effort at capturing the attention and imagination of United States race fans.
And I can’t wait to see it.
The plan for today is to arrive in Austin at 12:30 p.m. CST, where I’ll spend the afternoon surveying the crowd and getting acclimated. After a quick breakfast on Friday, I’m set to head out to the Circuit at 9 a.m.
I hope to survey the paddock at 11 and participate in a pit lane walk at 11:30. And that’s when the track action really heats up with free practice 2.