I arrived in Austin, Texas, USA yesterday afternoon having left Perth 23 hours prior and my first impressions were good. The Hyatt Regency is great, there’s plenty of activity downtown, the burgers at Eureka are super and the track is impressive. I arrived at the circuit around 8am, just 26 minutes after sunrise and took my first pic outside of the track using flash to light the sign. It was straight to the media centre once inside, and I was thrilled to see a large and lavish looking room with an impressive canteen.I walked the track around 10am and the red, white and blue signage on the run-off areas was being tarted up. This artwork will provide plenty of interesting photo opportunities when the cars are on track.I walk the track in the opposite direction, so I can photograph the drivers as they walk it in the direction they race, and came across a few of the drivers (including Sergio Perez below) as he and his entourage approached the first corner.The run up to the first corner is a steep one, with a gradient on par with Eu Rouge in Spa, Belgium.
The Circuit of the Americas (COTA) tower is an impressive structure that is visible from all around the track and I was happy to learn that we are allowed up there at any stage to photograph. Justin Timberlake is playing here after the racing on Saturday night and Stevie Wonder is on on Sunday night. They are expecting a crowd of over 50,000 for each show and have an impressive array of portable toilets lined up at the far end of the track.The first press conference got off to a funny start when one of the driver’s phones rang shortly after Matteo Bonciani (the head of media) had finished reminding the assembled media that phones must be set to silent. The look on Lewis’ face was special. It was either his or Sainz’s phone that went off.Speaking of Carlos Sainz, I couldn’t help but think he looked like a young schoolboy after having a close shave and wearing his new Renault yellow team shirt (he has switched from Toro Rosso). New Zealander Brendon Hartley was also in that first press conference and I couldn’t help but think he looked a little bit like a local hillbilly. He spoke well though and will no doubt be excited to get behind the wheel of the Toro Rosso for the first time tomorrow.
In the second press conference, Fernando Alonso wore a pink hat for breast cancer awareness, a major theme for the US GP and I put the Champion in ” World Championship” above his head for this pic. For a male dominated sport, there are plenty of female reporters here and they were busy today doing interviews and pieces to camera. Here’s Federica from Italy (it’s not her best look, she’s normally stunning).Cristina Romero from Mexico (below) interviewed Stoffel Vandoorne) out the front of the McLaren hospitality suite in the paddock.Amanda Davies from CNN interviewed Valtteri Bottas.And Mara Sangiorgio from Sky Italia had some fun and games with both Red Bull drivers, playing some sort of amusing interview game which drew a good crowd. Daniel Ricciardo had his new Red Bull ‘Merica cap on (it’ll only be sold at the track this weekend). And he wore a pair of shoes, each a different US flag colour.On the subject of footwear, I noted that Fernando has his major sponsor on his race boots.Stoffel Vandoorne has the same Johnnie Walker logo and his initials on his, and Romain Grosjean has his car number on his.The afternoon saw plenty of 3-day ticket holders in the pit lane and on the start/finish straight where the organisers had set up these characters, allowing the punters to make the letter T.Lewis Hamilton’s brother Nicholas (wearing the black cap) was popular with those in pit lane. I brought one of the 3 customised pillows I had printed (in this case Fernando) and found a couple of attractive Austinites to pose with it.The pink breast cancer awareness theme was carried through on the Renault with the ‘cat” painted pink.And finally, I found this guy with a home-made “shoey” hat towards the end of my day. We’ll reconvene tomorrow and take more photos of F1 cars and colourful people. Of course, you’re encouraged to SHARE this blog amongst your friends.
Over and out!