I have been critical of the supposed US GP that will come to Austin, TX in 2012. Although I am still skeptical of the whole “Formula One in the heart of NASCAR” concept, they have actually made public their plans for what the track will look like. As you can see, the track takes a counter-clockwise approach, making it unique in the world of F1, as only a select few other tracks also feature the counter-clockwise layout.
Some of the other features of the track include 133 feet of elevation change (probably man-made as Texas is fairly flat I believe) as well as multiple corner viewing for spectators and a magnificent view of the downtown skyline. From the looks of things, I would say there are three decent overtaking spots, and maybe one or two others that could be tried if the driver is willing to take a chance (which most won’t). The thing that sort of bothers me is the willingness to copy other layouts from other tracks, specifically Silverstone, Hockenheim and Istanbul. While this seems like a good idea, I think that every track should have its own personality. If a track has to rely on corners to be transplanted into it to make it flow and work, then it’s not very unique and the design looks lazy. And because this is yet another Tilke designed track, laziness is probably setting in at this point. His tracks have been criticized before for being all right to drive, but not fun to watch, as there are rarely any passing opportunities. We can all hope this one will be different, but dollars to donuts says it will probably just be more of the same tired design that Tilke has become known for. You know why drivers like the old tracks so much? Because they still have a sense of danger about them. They are not some cookie-cutter, stale parade. Spa, Monaco, Monza, Silverstone, the Nordschleife. These are tracks that make drivers look like hairy-chested daredevils, sawing at their wheels in a vein attempt to hold all four wheels on the pavement, whereas most modern circuits are humdrum affairs that are run and conclude with a whisper of a cough.
I guess that the best thing I can think of about this course is that it is not a city track. There are too many of them these days – and too many on the horizon. Stick to Monaco for the city track, otherwise build actual circuits that take both the driver and the spectator for a ride. If the US GP at Austin does ever come about, I do hope they can make it work. As always, I am still skeptical.