Circuit of the Americas: The Ultimate Track Guide

The Circuit of the Americas has been the permanent home of the U.S. Grand Prix since the event returned to the calendar in 2012. The Texas track is a modern venue with an old school character, and takes inspiration from iconic circuits.

TRACK LENGTH 3.400 miles
MOST POLES Lewis Hamilton (3)
MOST WINS Lewis Hamilton (5)

While the history of a Grand Prix in America harks all the way back to the early Twentieth Century, Formula One’s presence in the country has not always been so permanent. Thus far, there have been ten different tracks which have hosted Formula One races in the United States. Before Texas, the event was held at Indianapolis in the early years of the new millennium. After a farcical event in 2005 which saw only six cars take the start, and a declining reputation of F1 in America, Indianapolis didn’t renew their contract when it came to an end in 2007 and F1’s tenure in America thus ended.

The idea of reviving the U.S. Grand Prix was first seriously proposed in July 2010. At a press conference, Tavo Hellmund announced plans to build the first purpose-built F1 track in the country, 25 minutes south east of Austin.

The area of undeveloped land on which the track was to be built was originally proposed to be a residential area called Wandering Creek. Work began on the track at the very end of 2010 and the track was officially given the name ‘Circuit of the Americas’ in April 2011. Building of the track was suspended in December 2011 due to a dispute over the contract, though things were settled and work began again in January 2012. The completion date was pushed back to August 2012 – just three months before the first scheduled Grand Prix at the track, leading to some doubts that the venue would be ready in time. Nonetheless, Charlie Whiting visited the track in June 2012 and declared himself happy with the circuit. The asphalt was laid over August 2012 and the track was opened a month before the inaugural Grand Prix took place here. Mario Andretti completed the first laps of the track in the Lotus 79 – the car which he won the 1978 World Championship with. Over 100,000 fans attended the first Grand Prix at Texas, and spectator figures are currently around 250,000 over the Grand Prix weekend.

The Circuit of the Americas was designed by Hermann Tilke. It takes a number of features inspired by classic racing tracks, such as the complex between turns three and seven, which is based on Silverstone’s legendary Maggotts-Becketts- Chapel complex, while turns sixteen, seventeen and eighteen are reminiscent of Istanbul’s famous turn eight.

The 2020 United States Grand Prix was cancelled in July 2020 due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. It is expected to return to the schedule in 2021. Circuit of the Americas holds a contract to host the U.S. Grand Prix until 2022.


  • There is an elevation change of 40m around COTA, one of the highest of the season. The track features an unusual hill on the approach to the first turn.
  • Some of the turns at COTA are wider to allow the drivers to take different lines into the corner and to help improve overtaking.
  • The track runs anti-clockwise.
  • The weekend has become much more than an F1 event, with Taylor Swift and Justin Timberlake performing over the U.S. Grand Prix weekend in recent years.
  • The skyline at COTA is dominated by an observation tower, which offers fans a 360 degree view of the track. The tower is 77 metres high.
  • 640,000 cubic metres of materials were used to construct the track.
  • The track cost $400 million to construct, with a workforce of around 1,700.
  • The 2012 race was the first time Lewis Hamilton, Sebastian Vettel and Fernando Alonso finished on the podium together.


Lewis Hamilton secured his sixth Drivers’ Championship after finishing as runner-up to team-mate Valtteri Bottas at the 2019 United States Grand Prix.

Lando Norris was the surprise name at the top of the timesheets at the end of Q1 for the 2019 United States Grand Prix, but it was business as usual in Q3. Valtteri Bottas took pole position by twelve thousandths of a second, but his team-mate Lewis Hamilton managed only fifth on the grid. Bottas maintained his lead at the start of the race, while Alex Albon made contact and had a slight airborne moment at the first turn. Sebastian Vettel, who started second, began to fall down the field and was out seven laps later with suspension failure. While other cars opted for a two-stop strategy, Hamilton tried a one-stop approach, which led to Bottas being behind his team-mate after his stop. The Finn soon found a way past Hamilton but was behind him once again after his second stop. With five laps remaining Bottas requested ‘no talking’ on the team radio and a battle for the win ensued. Hamilton forced Bottas wide, but the Finn came back one lap later and assumed the lead of the race. Bottas won, but all eyes were on Hamilton, who secured his sixth Drivers’ Championship and celebrated with a round of donuts. Max Verstappen completed the podium trio, while Charles Leclerc scored the additional point for fastest lap of the race.


Kimi Raikkonen ended his win drought with a popular win in Texas as Lewis Hamilton took one step closer to the 2018 title.

After some wet running in Free Practice, Qualifying was held in the dry. Max Verstappen was forced to start from near the back of the grid after a car failure in Q1 while Lewis Hamilton took pole. Sebastian Vettel took a three place grid drop for failing to slow for red flags in Free Practice. It was Kimi Raikkonen, who started alongside Hamilton on the front row, and the Finn led after the first turn. Further back, there was contact in the midfield leading to the retirements of Fernando Alonso and Romain Grosjean. Vettel span after making light contact with Daniel Ricciardo on the first lap, sending him to the back of the field. Meanwhile, Verstappen made his way up from eighteenth on the grid to sixth in the first seven laps, but his team-mate suffered engine issues and came to a halt at the side of the circuit, prompting a Virtual Safety Car period. Hamilton pitted under the VSC, while race leader Raikkonen stayed out. It wasn’t long before the Mercedes driver was right behind the Finn once again and, as Hamilton attempted an overtake, Raikkonen came into the pits for his one and only stop of the afternoon. Verstappen followed a similar strategy to Raikkonen, while Hamilton pitted for a second time a number of laps later. With three laps to go, the top three were separated by just 1.5 seconds, though they crossed the line in the same order, with Raikkonen ending his 114-race win drought and scoring a popular victory. Vettel finished fourth after overtaking Valtteri Bottas in the closing stages, keeping his slim title chances alive.


YearPolesitterTeam On PoleWinnerWinning Team
2012Sebastian VettelRed BullLewis HamiltonMcLaren
2013Sebastian VettelRed BullSebastian VettelRed Bull
2014Nico RosbergMercedesLewis HamiltonMercedes
2015Nico RosbergMercedesLewis HamiltonMercedes
2016Lewis HamiltonMercedesLewis HamiltonMercedes
2017Lewis HamiltonMercedesLewis HamiltonMercedes
2018Lewis HamiltonMercedesKimi RaikkonenFerrari
2019Valtteri BottasMercedesValtteri BottasMercedes