F1 comes to Texas
Formula One touts return to U.S. with revved-up race car demo in downtown Austin
The car roared through downtown in that way only a Formula One car can — and race fans loved it. Over the weekend, they lined Congress Avenue at 17th Street in downtown Austin and cheered as former driver, BBC commentator and racing spokesperson David Coulthard lapped the world-championship-winning Red Bull F1 car to the state Capitol and back.
He followed with smoke-producing wheel spins, turning donuts for a film crew capturing footage to showcase Austin to the world as the next venue for Formula One.
"If [Formula One wants] a true world championship, it must come through the United States. This is our time to make it right."
“I was a little nervous that America might have a bad taste in its mouth after the last F1 event here," Coulthard said when asked what he thought of the return of F1 to the U.S. "But Austin is a young, vibrant city that embraces things made outside of America. Plus I feel that there’s already a fan base here, and the race will bring more people here, creating a week-long festival. Although Austin doesn’t need an excuse to party," he added. That's something Coulthard experienced first hand as he had wandered 6th Street Friday night, calling Austin’s culture “fantastic.”
"We screwed up last time when we went to Indianapolis," Coulthard said. He spoke about the U.S. Grand Prix of 2005. Three-quarters of the field refused to race because of concerns about the tires. The Indy F1 race never recovered. "If [Formula One wants] a true world championship, it must come through the United States. This is our time to make it right."
After spending most of their time deflecting criticism over whether and how much public money might need to go into the new Circuit of the Americas track; Formula One partners, fans, and supporters finally got a chace to celebrate an extraordinary opportunity for Austin.
A public display of the Red Bull car followed the Saturday morning filming. Fans could take pictures and oogle the futuristic vehicle both under the star at the Bob Bullock State History museum, and later outside of the W Hotel where hundreds of investors and supporters drank Red Bull and vodka while mingling in the bar. It took the arrival of the Red Bull Motorsport film crew to put the events into motion.
"I genuinely feel [Austin] is different from other places. There's an appreciation for what Formula One represents."
What should fans expect from Formula One? Coulthard says the cars are "loud and fast,” and “for people who embrace technology....That’s what Formula 1 represents, the best of racing technology, even aerospace technology.”
Coulthard visited the Circuit of the Americas track on Sunday morning, becoming the first F1 driver to get into a car and cruise around the still dirt-covered track. "I think the turn one elevation change is the halmark of this track," he said. "You only get that kind of elevation change in Belgium and Monte Carlo."
He says he'll take information back to all the teams based in Europe. "I'm here as an advance party. I genuinely feel [Austin] is different from other places. There's an appreciation for what Formula One represents. Formula One is that sport where hybrid technology is developed."
It’s not just the track that earns high marks from the seasoned driver, “I’m taking back good news on Austin as a destination for Formula One. Formula One is known as a bit elitist and stand-offish, but I hope there are some open-minded new drivers who will come. There's enough people here to fill the course, but not yet enough to embrace it. America needs American drivers here, and there are some great American drivers coming up."
Construction of the 5.5-kilometer track in Wandering Creek, south of Austin, is in full-swing as organizers prepare for Formula One racing’s return to the U.S. next year.