The Circuit of The Americas resurrected the United States Grand Prix in 2012, and the event has been held at the Texas track ever since. Despite being a respected track by both the fans and the drivers, the future of the USGP has been called into question, most notably after the hurricane-affected 2015 race.
However, the announcement that there will be a Formula 1 race in Miami in 2021 has perhaps been the biggest blow to the Austin GP, as rumours are rife about Florida replacing Texas from 2022 onwards.
If that happens, F1 would lose a fine track and facility from the calendar, COTA is a challenging track and one that is fun to race around.
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Like always, setup is key around here. You can be as quick as the esports competitors, but if your car isn‘t tuned correctly, you won’t be fast. Rain is very rare in this part of the US in Autumn, but there was the aforementioned 2015 race that experienced a deluge.
Rain is not predicted this weekend in Austin, However, when it does rain, the track is very low-grip and the S section in the first sector is particularly tricky. Here’s our guide to the best setup in wet conditions in the USA in F1 2019!
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To make it through the twisty first and third sectors in good time, you need wings that are almost the same as what you have around street circuits; 8 on the front and 9 on the rear. It’ll cost you straight line speed, but you’ll fly around both the fast and slow speed corners. You can get away with lower wing angles, but it’s too risky, as the car become unpredictable and you’ll wear your tyres out faster.
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In wet conditions, you need grip, and a lot of it. Therefore, a locked differential is what you need, even if it makes the rear tyres more lively. However, there aren’t many big traction zones here, aside from the exits of Turns 11 and 20. Thanks to the wing angles, the car is planted and you can feel confident in being aggressive with the throttle with 75% on-throttle transmission and 100% off-throttle transmission.
Tyre wear isn’t a huge issue around here, but you can’t be too adventurous with the toe and camber angles. –2.7 & -1.2 degree camber and 0.07 & 0.25 degree toe is the maximum you can use without wearing your tyres too quickly, while giving you plenty of mechanical grip.
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The kerbs around COTA aren’t the harshest, but because of the high speed S curves, you have to opt for soft suspension springs, around 3 on the front and 3 on the rear is ideal. There are quite a few sharp direction changes around this track, but not many that are high-speed by F1’s standards. Therefore, the anti-roll bar doesn’t need to be firm, 3 on the front and rear seem to work best.
The usual ride height of 4 on the front and 4 on the rear works nicely in the USA in the rain. Normally, you raise the ride height in the wet, but the tyres partly do that for you and you need to be low off the ground, as otherwise the straight line speed suffers.
Aside from the end of the back straight, there aren’t any long braking zones in COTA. Additionally, there are several areas where trial braking is required, so a lower brake pressure than normal is required. Furthermore, due to the lower grip levels available in the rain, lock-ups are more common, so 82% is the best brake pressure around USA.
The brake bias is very forward facing in Texas, for the same reasons for the lower brake pressure above 56% to the front is the ideal setting for the USGP.
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Because of the wet conditions, you can get away with higher than normal tyre pressures, as the wet track will cool your rubber down. 23.8 on the fronts and 21.8 psi on the rears is the highest you can have without overheating the fronts too much in sector 1. Higher tyre pressures also help your straight line speed and the grip available to you, but if you’re struggling with wear, lower these amounts down.