Updated 09/25/2012 06:50 PM
Race director gives COTA track green light for Grand Prix
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The Circuit of Americas race track overcame a large hurdle Tuesday after getting the go ahead that the site was race-ready for the U.S. Grand Prix in November.
Race Director Charles Whiting, who inspects every Formula One track about two months before the race, is confident in awarding the circuit a "Grade 1" status, the highest offered by F1’s governing body.
"The designers of this track have done lots of other Formula One circuits, so they know pretty much what to do," Whiting said.
Whiting walked the entire 3.4 mile track, paying close attention to every detail.
"Things like the track surface, the curbs, the verges, rough areas, guard rails, fences, everything is in the right condition," Whiting said.
On the track, spectators will be able to see what’s called a "turbo boost." Drivers can use what's called "the drag reduction system" between turns 11 and 12.
Rodrigo Sanchez is a former Formula 2000 driver and explains how it works.
"Every time the driver brakes, it recharges the battery,” he said. “As an added bonus, it gives the driver an extra 60 horsepower to use."
From a technical standpoint, Whiting says the track is indeed ready for a Formula One race, but it is still unknown how the cars will react until race weekend.
"I know they have done a lot of work on drainage here,” Whiting said. “I'm sure in terms of wet weather it will handle a lot of rain, probably as well, if not better, than most circuits."
Despite Central Texas' extreme heat, Whiting believes it won't be a major factor. Since 1984, designers have learned several lessons from the U.S. Grand Prix in Dallas -- all incorporated into this track's design.
Whiting will return to the track for another walk through the week before the U.S. Grand Prix.
However, he says that visit will not be a formal inspection, but rather just a check to make sure everything still meets F1 standards.