Following three races in Asia, the Renault Sport Formula One Team is Stateside-bound this weekend for the 18th grand prix of the year in Austin (October 21-23), with the Circuit of the Americas revving up to welcome F1’s travelling circus for the fifth time.
Like Suzuka, the track represents uncharted territory for Jolyon Palmer, but the young Brit proved in Japan that he is a quick learner: “Everything really gelled at Suzuka. We do a lot of simulator work and I watch plenty of on-board laps. In the sim, the Austin circuit seems quite tricky with a nice bit of undulation, some blind corners and some rewarding fast corners, meaning it should be a good challenge. I’ve never driven it before, so Friday will be another learning curve.”
Kevin Magnussen, by contrast, will be able to draw upon his previous experience of the Circuit of the Americas: “The race in Austin is a great event and it’s an enjoyable track to drive. The start-finish straight with the big climb at the end is pretty unique, and that is followed by a fast and flowing section, which is a lot of fun. It’s a good layout that poses quite a few different challenges, and we have seen some exciting racing there. Overtaking is possible and there can be a variety of tyre strategies too, so I think it could be a fun race.”
That contention is shared by Nick Chester, the squad’s Technical Director: “Looking at the simulations, we could have a decent race. There are a few minor aerodynamic updates we will have on the car that are just the final elements of the R.S.16’s development programme. In addition, we are continuing to make progress on set-up and tyre management – particularly tyre management in qualifying.”
Surprisingly, the low ambient humidity of the Texan grasslands has a big effect on the power units. With the air containing more oxygen, the internal combustion engine will generate more power but the aridity will be very taxing on the internals. This means the engineers will need to keep a close eye on ignition timing!