Jenson Button believes the Circuit of the Americas compares to the world’s best race circuits in place.
“The first sector of this circuit ranks as one of the best parts of a racetrack anywhere in the world,” the McLaren driver enthused.
“The first corner is really tricky, because it’s steep and blind, after that, the circuit just winds through an incredibly fast switchback until the heavy braking for the back straight.”
Many drivers praised the opening part of the lap during F1’s inaugural race weekend last year. The sequence is modeled in part on the high-speed Maggots, Becketts and Chapel S-bends at Britain’s Silverstone circuit.
“After such an intense start to the lap, the straight offers a bit of a breather until you commit once again to the final sector, which is a series of slow-speed, quite technical corners,” said Button. “Again, there’s a real variety of corner here, and it’s fun to nail the sequence. It’s definitely a place where accumulated knowledge of the layout can add to your speed.”
Button showed good pace during the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix but finished out of the points having lost time with an early pit stop following a first-lap collision.
“I’m optimistic that the track will suit the high-speed characteristics of our car, which showed improved pace in both India and Abu Dhabi. After a couple of difficult races, it’d be great to get a strong finish for all the Formula 1 fans in the US.”
We’ve written before about Daniel Ricciardo’s love of Dale Earnhardt and his love of the No. 3, which Ricciardo has selected as his permanent number for the duration of his Formula 1 career. And additionally, Dale Earnhardt Jr. has offered up the opportunity that one day Ricciardo could race a JR Motorsports car in NASCAR Xfinity Series competition, and Ricciardo has said he’d be up for it.
And although Earnhardt Jr. has only used the No. 3 on a handful of occasions in his career in the NASCAR Xfinity Series, Ricciardo knows how much the number means to the NASCAR veteran as he prepares for his final few starts in the Cup Series the tail-end of this year.
After the Mexican Grand Prix next week, Ricciardo is set to stay in North America for the off-week between the Mexican and Brazilian Grands Prix.
In that break, he said he’ll see Earnhardt Jr. in person at the Cup race at Texas Motor Speedway (Sunday, Nov. 5, 2 p.m. ET, NBCSN) to ensure he gets to see him before he retires from full-time competition.
Ricciardo explained his planning during Thursday’s pre-race edition of the NBC Sports Group original digital series Paddock Pass, speaking to NBCSN’s Will Buxton at the United States Grand Prix at Circuit of The Americas in Austin.
“Well I’ll see him for the first time in Dallas. I’m gonna go to the NASCAR race in two weeks time at Texas Motor Speedway,” Ricciardo told NBCSN.
“Yeah, so, I gotta see him race before he hangs up the helmet.
“The Earnhardt family is a huge name in motorsport, not only in America but all over the world. Yeah I wish him well.”
Ricciardo is also optimistic he’ll get the chance to do a helmet swap with Earnhardt Jr. at the event.
“Hopefully I get to see him perform well in Texas. I’m gonna try to do a helmet swap with him. We’ll see how we go.”
Stay tuned for more on this over the coming weeks.