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Ricciardo and Verstappen relish prospect of ‘unique’ Austin

Red Bull drivers Daniel Ricciardo and Max Verstappen say they're both looking forward to the unique challenge of the Circuit of the Americas in Austin, Texas.

That's the venue for next weekend's United States Grand Prix. The purpose-built 20-turn, 3.427 mile (5.513km) track is hosting the event for the sixth time since it opened in 2012.

“Everyone knows I love the city of Austin but I also love the circuit," said Ricciardo, who finished in third place in last year's race.

"It’s certainly unique with the wide apexes," he pointed out. "You can pass in more than three areas. It’s fast, it flows well and it’s definitely one of the best tracks on the calendar for overtaking."

Unfortunately, last year's race did not go so well for his team mate. Verstappen ended up retiring from the race with a gearbox issue after 28 laps. But the year before he was fourth in extremely wet conditions.

He has even more good reason to have warm feelings about the venue. Verstappen made his second appearance in a Formula 1 car here with Toro Rosso in free practice in 2014 – which had also been wet, as he recalled.

“The first time I drove at COTA was just after making my Formula 1 début in Japan in 2014," he recalled. "It rained in the morning so I went out on intermediates.

"It’s a hard track to learn in the dry, and the 1 hour 30 minutes in the wet didn’t help!

"It is a really good circuit to drive though and I enjoyed my first experience regardless, especially the first sector.

"In 2015 I finished 4th in very wet conditions," he added. There was so much water but I still had a really fun race as I like driving in the wet. Even when it started to dry it made things a bit more interesting in the latter stages."

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If Verstappen is hoping for wet weather again this year, he's liable to be disappointed. Long range forecasts suggest that Austin will be mainly dry and fairly sunny next weekend. Increased cloud cover suggests temperatures will be relatively cool, around 20C (68F).

"COTA has elements of other circuits from the F1 calendar, for example Silverstone," commented Verstappen. "But it also has its own unique features. It’s shorter and faster than other tracks with a similar layout.

"Turn 1 is a really fun corner. You can brake very late as you head up the hill but then hitting the apex is hard as you’re literally blind.

"It takes a few laps to get your references on where to turn in."

Meanwhile Ricciardo is already looking forward to some of the attractions away from the race track.

"There is so much to see," he enthused. "I like going to the well-known places like Pete’s Piano Bar, but also some of the more local places for live music and food.

"I have done Barton Springs [and] visited a ranch," he added. "This year I’m doing Austin City limits. There’s so much to do and it’s all so good."


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