F1 Experiences Features

United States Grand Prix – Fast Facts

Circuit of The Americas is the latest in a long line of race tracks to have hosted the United States Grand Prix since it was conceived more than a century ago. Learn more in Fast Facts!

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Origins

The United States Grand Prix was established in the early 1900s, around the same time as the Indianapolis 500 and just a few years after the advent of Grand Prix racing in Europe. Early races were held on a 40km oiled gravel circuit in Savannah, Georgia and on public roads in Milwaukee, Wisconsin and Santa Monica, California, but the event failed to take off as the USA embraced oval racing and wasn’t held between 1917-1947.

Watkins Glen

The Indianapolis 500 was included on the Formula 1 calendar in the early years of the modern World Championship (1950-1960), but it wasn’t run to F1 regulations and few European drivers took part. Riverside and Sebring staged races in the late 1950s before the United States Grand Prix finally found its most permanent stateside home in Watkins Glen. The upstate New York circuit hosted twenty races between 1961-1980, including three wins apiece for Jim Clark and Graham Hill, but was eventually sidelined due to financial issues.

Street Races

Watkins Glen had been joined by a second stateside race in 1975, the United States Grand Prix West on the streets of Long Beach, California. The relative success of this new event prompted more American street circuits to join the Formula 1 calendar, including Las Vegas (1981-1982), Detroit (1982-1988) and Dallas (1984). In fact, three street races in the USA were included on the 1982 Formula 1 calendar, though none of them were actually known as the United States Grand Prix! Struggling to gain a foothold in the USA after three poorly-attended street races in Phoenix (1989-1991), the United States fell off the Formula 1 calendar for the next decade.

Indianapolis

Huge fanfare greeted Formula 1’s return to the United States in 2000 at a modified version of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, complete with a series of infield corners. A huge crowd of more than 200,000 fans packed “The Brickyard” that year to witness Michael Schumacher win for Ferrari on the way to his third World Championship. The German champion dominated the Indianapolis era, winning five races at the circuit between 2000-2007, but the race also proved controversial. In 2002, Schumacher and Ferrari teammate Rubens Barichello attempted to manufacture a dead heat (the win went to Barichello), while in 2005, only six cars started the race; teams using Michelin tyres withdrew from the event on safety concerns after several tyres had failed during practice.

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Circuit of The Americas

The USA was without a race again until plans were announced to build a brand new purpose-built circuit, designed by Hermann Tilke, on the outskirts of Austin, Texas. Completed at a cost of some $400m USD just in time for the inaugural race in November 2012, the 5.515km Circuit of The Americas has a challenging layout with several elevation changes that’s popular with drivers and fans alike. Lewis Hamilton has won all but one of the six races held to date at Circuit of The Americas and can seal his fifth World Championship this weekend if he scores 8 points or more than championship rival Sebastian Vettel.

Fast Facts

  • With six wins, Lewis Hamilton is the most successful driver in USGP history. No other driver on the current grid has more than one win to their name in the USA.
  • Ferrari have won nine times in the USA, making them the most successful constructor.
  • Sebastian Vettel made his Formula 1 debut at the 2007 USGP, aged 19 years and 349 days. The future World Champion scored one point when finishing eighth place at Indianapolis, becoming the youngest point scorer on a debut appearance at the time (his record has since been taken by Daniil Kvyat).
  • Mario Andretti is the only US driver to win a World Championship race on home soil. He triumphed in the 1977 United States Grand Prix West in Long Beach.
  • With 132 starts, Eddie Cheever competed in more races than any other American driver. He achieved a best result of third on home soil in the 1989 US Grand Prix.

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Topics: Circuit of The Americas, United States Grand Prix

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