BTS at F1
Austin has just passed its third consecutive weekend of action-packed fun; Expectations going into the Formula 1 United States Grand Prix weekend were high after two successful weekends of Austin City Limits Music Festival.
For some, time watching Austin's F1 race is better spent at home — free from the crowds, costly food and drinks, and the general loudness of the passing cars. But loyal fans know there's nothing like being at the track and watching the experience in person. The energy from F1 followers can be absolutely intoxicating (even if you're sober).
For those who missed out last year or just want to catch up on the weekend's best moments, here are our top trackside highlights. Stay tuned for more of our favorite moments in a gallery later this week.
Written by Amber Heckler. Photos by Daniel Cavazos.
International fans love Austin as much as the locals do
It's no secret that a global motorsport like Formula 1 can draw in fans from all over the world. You'd only need to walk along the track for 15 minutes in order to catch at least five different accents, from the United Kingdom, to India, to Mexico. And if there's one thing that all international fans love, it's Austin. There were several overheard conversations between heavily-accented Europeans deciding where they were going to grab dinner once they left the track, or recapping their trips to Austinites who were keen to give their approval (or recommend something better to do the next time they were in town).
Hats — hats everywhere
Rhinestones and all-black everything were among hot trends for ACL 'fits this year, but unique hats and ball caps were the sole defining characteristic of fashion during the race weekend. This year's collection of team hats came in all colors of the rainbow, and a few had funky patterns. The most memorable hats were foam Duracell battery hats, or hats with not-so-miniature F1 cars on them. Bucket hats deserve an honorable mention, but our favorite ball caps were Red Bull Racing's light blue and pink cherry blossom hats that were leftover from the Japanese Grand Prix.
Don't let this hat touch the ground or it just might drive away.Photo by Daniel Cavazos
Sergio Perez has a stronghold over his Austin fanbase
Although Mexico City is Red Bull Racing driver Sergio Perez's home race, he might as well adopt Austin as his second home, thanks to the number of supporters who were proudly shouting his name over the weekend. Die-hard Checo fans walked around with Mexican flags draped over their shoulders, and wore shirts with his face haphazardly copied-and-pasted all over. They cheered more wildly for him than any other driver on track, even after the race had ended.
These fans must really love Sergio Perez.Photo by Daniel Cavazos
THEBROSFRESH freshen up a heat-exhausted crowd
These brothers might be from Baton Rouge, Louisiana, but their two years in Austin have definitely left a mark. THEBROSFRESH started their Saturday performance in front of a tired, heat-battered lawn behind the turn 19 grandstand, but steadily took command of their audience's eyes and ears throughout their set. Their matching cowboy hats and white tank tops added to their southern charm, while their carefree vocals erased any irritation among those who were just trying to rest up before the sprint race.
THEBROSFRESH keepin' it cool onstage.Photo by Daniel Cavazos
Backstage access behind the paddock
This writer has been following F1 for years, but I've only recently had the opportunity to take my knowledge trackside and beyond. Being in the paddock grants a glimpse at the many faces behind the cameras, and grants visitors access to some great storytelling moments that would give anyone FOMO. For instance: watching Mercedes-AMG Petronas team principal and CEO Toto Wolff ride a scooter 100 feet from the team garage to the team lounge; grabbing a selfie with Sir Jackie Stewart (still in awe of that one); and catching a glimpse of McDreamy himself and his world-brightening smile.
Patrick Dempsey's smile can still light up a room.Photo by Daniel Cavazos
Fans rushing the track after the race
It's a longstanding tradition for F1 fans to break through the fences and make their way across the hot track surface to watch the award ceremony after the race. Tradition aside, it's still a bit intimidating to witness from a hallway filled with more than 20 staffers who have just been ordered to form a human fence, filling in the gaps between the track fence and the pit lane. Watching the masses of fans rush the track to get near the podium area was surreal. Some were casually walking, while others were sprinting to get ahead of the rest of the crowd. The rush was worth it for the hundreds (if not thousands) of fans who got an incredible view of Verstappen receiving his 50th trophy.
Everyone wanted to get front row views to the award ceremony.Photo by Daniel Cavazos
Post-race shocker: Double driver disqualification
Hours after the race ended, the Fédération Internationale de l'Automobile (FIA) disqualified Lewis Hamilton (the second place winner) and Charles Leclerc (who finished P6) after irregularities were found on their cars during a plank wear inspection. Following the grid shake-up, Williams Racing driver Logan Sargeant was moved into P10, thus scoring him his first point in F1 — plus, it happened in his rookie season, on his home turf. Sargeant is the first American F1 driver to score a point in 30 years.
Charles Leclerc was disqualified after the race.Photo by Daniel Cavazos
Win or lose on the track, Austin's status as an F1 hotspot is something special. We hope next year comes fast, and we'll see you out there.