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Red Bull drivers relishing return to COTA

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Red Bull drivers Daniel Ricciardo and Daniil Kvyat are both relishing Formula 1’s return to the Circuit of the Americas in Austin, Texas for next weekend’s United States Grand Prix.

F1 makes its annual visit to the USA next weekend with Red Bull facing an engine supply crisis for 2016 following its acrimonious year with Renault.

However, on-track, both Ricciardo and Kvyat put in good displays last time out in Russia, suggesting that Red Bull should comfortably hang onto fourth in the constructors’ championship for the remainder of the season.

Previewing the United States Grand Prix, Ricciardo was full of praise for both COTA and the city of Austin itself, saying that it is one of his favorite races on the calendar.

“I love Austin,” Ricciardo said. “Great track, great city, great food, great fans, great people in general, great hotel. Basically… great.

“For a modern-day circuit with lots of runoff, they’ve done the best job possible. They’ve created a track that’s safe but managed to ensure it’s still fun. It’s probably the best overtaking circuit on the calendar.”

Ricciardo sported some rather interesting facial hair for last year’s Austin race, and said that he may well try and rekindle the look for next weekend, as also shown on Twitter.

“I’ll probably do something – but no promises,” he joked. “Don’t want to put pressure on myself!”

Daniil Kvyat enjoyed his first run-out on a grand prix weekend at COTA back in 2013, and hopes to add to his good memories of the track this year.

“I made my F1 debut there and that was a big moment in my career,” Kvyat said. “The race last year was I would say unlucky in that we had really good pace but I had to pit for a vibration with the tyre after overtaking Kimi [Raikkonen], but yes, I have very positive memories of the circuit.

“I really like racing at COTA; the track is really good. It has a lot of high-speed corners, heavy braking, long straights, a bit of everything really, so it’s great for racing, very enjoyable.

“Sector One is exciting. There are a lot of high-speed changes of direction. It’s kind of like Maggots-Becketts at Silverstone and it feels great through there in an F1 car. The circuit also has a lot of changes of elevation, which is something I think every driver appreciates. It’s a good track.”

Lewis Hamilton receives Daytona 500 invitation from Bubba Wallace

Lewis Hamilton Bubba Wallace
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Lewis Hamilton is a fan of the new NASCAR Cup Series team formed by Denny Hamlin and Michael Jordan to field a car for Bubba Wallace.

Will the six-time Formula One champion also be a fan in person at a NASCAR race in the near future?

Wallace is hoping so.

After Hamilton tweeted his support Tuesday morning about the news of a Hamlin-Jordan-Wallace team making its debut with the 2021 season, Wallace responded with a sly invitation to the Daytona 500.

Much would need to be worked out, starting with how much garage and grandstand access would be afforded for a 2021 season opener that likely would occur during a still ongoing novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

But it would seem fitting given that Hamilton and Wallace have been two of the world’s most outspoken Black athletes about the quest for diversity and racial justice. Hamilton recently reaffirmed his commitment to activism after his donning a Breonna Taylor shirt sparked an FIA inquiry.

The idea of Hamilton attending the season opener already had legs, too. The Mercedes AMG Petronas F1 driver has expressed a desire to race the Daytona 500 after he has retired from Formula One.

He was a spectator (with racing legend Mario Andretti) at four-time champion Jeff Gordon’s final Cup race as a full-time in the 2015 season finale at Homestead-Miami Speedway. In 2011, Hamilton swapped cars with three-time champion Tony Stewart at Watkins Glen International.

Having rubbed shoulders with other racing greats so often, it only would be fitting if Hamilton — who is one victory from tying Michael Schumacher’s career record and also could tie the F1 record with a seventh championship this season — spent some time with the greatest basketball player of all time.

Jeff Gordon was flanked by Mario Andretti and Lewis Hamilton before the 2015 Cup season finale at Homestead-Miami Speedway (Jared C. Tilton/NASCAR via Getty Images).