Lance: “Austin is a great place to have a race. It’s a city full of excitement and it’s always awesome to be in Texas. A lot of fans come to the race so we always get a really good atmosphere. Away from the track I sometimes like to catch some live music, but I try to save my free time for a nice BBQ dinner.
“Austin is a very technical lap with a combination of low and high-speed corners, which means setting up the car is quite challenging. I enjoy the first sector the most. Turn 1 is a blind uphill corner that you approach at almost 190 mph. The steep approach means it’s quite satisfying on the brakes because the car really stops well with that amount of incline. Because it’s a blind corner you have to be very precise with the turn-in. From there the sequence of corners is really amazing. The speed that we carry through those corners on a qualifying lap is unbelievable, so I really enjoy it.
“It’s a track where it’s quite difficult to follow other cars closely, but there are definitely overtaking opportunities. The track is wide at Turn 1 so there’s an opportunity to brake late and dive down the inside. There is also a long run down the back straight and if you get a good exit out of the hairpin leading onto the straight you can make a pass.”
Sergio: “I’m still feeling really happy with our race in Mexico last weekend. Finishing as best of the rest is realistically the most we could have achieved. It showed our strengths as a team and shows the progress we are making with this car – even in the final part of the year. I feel we can fight for points in all of the remaining races.
“Austin has always felt like a second home race for me because of the number of Mexican fans who come along. It feels strange to be going there after Mexico because it’s usually the other way around. I enjoy having these two races next to each other – they are both highlights of the year for me and very enjoyable. I always notice the Mexican flags in the grandstands and it gives you a boost.
“As for the track, it’s interesting for the drivers because of the range of corners. It’s challenging, especially the first sector, which I enjoy the most because of the quick corners. Turn 1 is pretty unique being so steep and it’s not easy to choose your braking point. You can brake so late because of the gradient, but it’s easy to go in too deep and miss the blind apex. You can also experiment with taking some different lines through the corner because it’s so wide.
“There are parts of the lap that remind me of other tracks. The quick part in sector 1 is similar to the first sector in Suzuka, for example. It’s just a good fun track that’s very satisfying to drive. It’s definitely one of the best modern tracks.”
Otmar Szafnauer: “I always enjoy going back to America. It’s where I grew up and spent a big part of my life – and it’s also where my interest and passion for motorsport began. I went to my first Formula 1 race in 1984 in Detroit when I was at college, and the speed and the sound captured my imagination. It’s been satisfying to see Formula 1 become established in Austin through the efforts of the Circuit of the Americas. It’s important that our sport is represented in such an important market, where we’ve seen the appetite for F1 grow stronger and stronger.
“We’re at that point in the season where every point is hugely important. We’re in the thick of this midfield battle and the six points we scored in Mexico have helped us close the gap on fifth place to just nine points. The car was strong in Mexico and we will work hard to ensure similar pace in Austin this weekend.”