Christian Epp, the lead architect who worked on designing the Circuit of the Americas, says the key to building a challenging circuit is getting a suitable peice of land.
Epp, who works for track architects Tilke, was approached by Austin race promoter Tavo Hellmund “in 2008/2009”. The pair began investigating potential sites together with motorcycling world champion Kevin Schwantz.
“We were lucky enough to choose a piece of land where we can play,” Epp, who said the sinuous opening sector of the lap as “plays with the topography”.
Being able to choose the land makes it “much easier for us,” said Epp, “gives us more opportunity to create an exciting race track”.
Hellmund and Schwantz had big plans for the track layout, which they wanted to incorporate similar corners to those found on F1’s greatest circuits.
“We had a meeting with Tavo and Kevin Schwantz at the beginning where we basically checked the wish list of what they wanted. And it began ‘OK Christian, we want elements like Eau Rouge, we want the corkscrew, we want like Suzuka, we want Maggotts/Becketts section…’ So we began doing the list basically and we came up I think with ten or fifteen different turns that they liked.”
They then had to trim back the number of such corners they included on the track. “Once you want to incorporate one of these features you’re very limited,” Epp explained. “You can do maybe three or four of these features but for sure not ten.”
Epp added the FIA’s tight regulations on circuit design would make recreating a classic circuit such as Spa or Suzuka impossible.