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Williams Martini Racing: USA And Mexican Grands Prix Preview

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United States Grand Prix


Formula One has made several attempts in the past two decades to regain a successful foothold in the United States, and seems to have finally struck gold with the Circuit of the Americas. The sport is steeped in history in the USA, with the likes of Watkins Glen and Long Beach helping to define that era, but after transitions through Detroit, Dallas and Phoenix it struggled to find a permanent home. The short-lived stay in Indianapolis was followed by a five-year absence, but since 2012, the universally-popular Texas venue has carried Formula One back with a bang. Williams has scored victories at four US circuits, with Alan Jones at Watkins Glen in 1980 and Las Vegas in 1981, and Keke Rosberg at Dallas in 1984 and Detroit in 1985. 

For USA, Pirelli have made available the super soft, soft and medium tyres. 

Pat Symonds: Austin is one of those modern tracks that has been built to really stretch both the driver and the car. After turn one, the succession of corners is reminiscent of the first part of Suzuka and just as challenging, may be even more so than that classic track. Whilst last year’s event was severely disrupted by weather, we hope for a more straightforward weekend this time around. Apart from the weather, one of the surprise features last year was how bumpy the circuit had become in just twelve months. We certainly are hoping that it hasn’t degraded any further as last year was a challenge, and ultimately led to the retirement of both our cars. That aside, we hope the circuit will reward our new power unit upgrade being introduced for this event. 

Valtteri Bottas: Austin is a great city and the people are very nice. Normally the weather is very good – except last year when it was a little bit different! We didn’t manage to score there in 2015 because of the DNF with both cars, but it should be a pretty good track for us when we go there again and try and get some good points. I still remember COTA fondly because it was where I picked up my first ever points in Formula One in 2013, so it’s always nice to go back there. Overall, as a race weekend, with the fans and everything going on it’s one of the best races to go to. It’s a special grand prix. 

Felipe Massa: Of all the newer tracks COTA is the one I enjoy the most. It’s a really nice track to drive because you have everything; high speed corners, low speed corners and the long straight, which is good for overtaking. I also really enjoy Austin itself. It’s a very nice city with good restaurants and an amazing atmosphere during the race weekend. I’ve managed to get good results there in the past so hopefully I can enjoy a great race this year.


Mexican Grand Prix


For seven years from 1986-‘92, Mexico hosted one of Formula One’s great power races. Three long straights, broken up by a demanding Esses section and the infamous Peraltada final corner, gave the track a distinctly Monza-like character which was tremendously popular among drivers, despite the punishing bumps. The altitude of 7500ft also ensures both man and machine are tested to and beyond their limit. The Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez returned for the 2015 season, with circuit reprofiling by Hermann Tilke complete with new pit and paddock facilities. Williams has scored three wins in Mexico, with Nigel Mansell in 1987 and 1992 and Riccardo Patrese in 1991. Valtteri secured his sixth Formula One podium at the track in 2015.   

For Mexico, Pirelli have made available the super soft, soft and medium tyres 

Pat Symonds: We still regard Mexico as a new venue as our rate of learning last year was rapid, but undoubtedly unfinished. That said, we were able to put one car on the podium here. Of course, the primary feature of the circuit is its altitude which tests the turbo charger of the power unit, as well as the vehicle’s cooling systems. The altitude is not only a test for the car, but indeed the drivers and the whole pit crew. Of particular note is the brake duty cycle, with this circuit now being one of the highest benchmarks we need to achieve. For the second time in a row, the teams also have to handle back-to-back race events as we continue through the busy final stint of the season. 

Valtteri Bottas: Mexico was the best podium in my career so far when I finished third there last year. It was incredible to look out on the stadium and see how many people there were after the Mexican Grand Prix hadn’t been on since 1992, and the place was completely full. The atmosphere was amazing. It’s a big city with plenty of traffic on the way to the circuit – that’s the only negative I can think of, but at least the traffic is there and not on the track! The race is very challenging because of the high altitude. The top speeds are high, and we have less downforce. This thin air also means there is less oxygen, so as a driver it’s slightly more physical. It’s a very cool race track and I’m really looking forward to going back to such a unique location for a grand prix. 

Felipe Massa: Mexico has some of the most amazing fans. In the last sector you really enjoy every lap you’re doing. You also have one of the longest straights in Formula One, where we achieved the record speed last year. In Mexico people really love Formula One, it’s fantastic to go to races like that. The city is very similar to São Paulo so I really feel at home there. I would say the Mexican people are very similar to the Brazilian people as well. It’s a great place to visit and to race.

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