Andretti: Absolutely fantastic

Monday 22-October-2012 09:38

Mario Andretti has praised the new Circuit of the Americas, having had the honour of being the first to drive a full lap of the Texan track.

The 1978 Formula One World Champion took the track on Sunday in a Lotus 79 Cosworth racing car after first ceremoniously cutting a ribbon of chequered flags.

The American put the car through its paces around the undulating 20-turn, 3.4-mile just-paved race track, declaring it to be an "absolutely fantastic" layout.

"It's very green, as you could expect," Andrett told Reuters. "You get offline a bit - it's a bit slippery. But that's normal for a new circuit.

"Overall, my impression is absolutely fantastic."

The 72-year-old believes there are several places to overtake especially when braking at the top of the hill as it gives drivers a false sense of security.

"So you're going to push the envelope," he said. "If you're going to challenge, that's the time you're going to do it. The track seems to be, in many of the braking areas, wide enough to invite that.

"If you somehow misjudge a situation, I think you can get out of it because of the width. I think you're going to see a lot of action because of that, and that's what it's all about."

He wasn't the only driver, though, to experience the track as Lotus test driver Jerome D'Ambrosio drove the 2010 Renault R30.

Giving his impression of the track, the Belgian said: "It's a very enjoyable layout with a couple of really good places for overtaking, some long fast sweeping 'S' corners, and some really good high speed changes of direction like 'Becketts' in Silverstone.

"It was a shame not to get more laps, as an engine issue meant we were unable to continue running, but I had enough time to get a really good feel of the circuit.

"It's an enjoyable track for a racing driver and also fantastic for the fans as the viewing areas are very well placed; there should be plenty of action.

"The first corner is quite special and it will be interesting to see it when people are dicing for position in the race.

"Austin is a superb city with a great atmosphere, and I think the city will live around Formula 1 for the week of the Grand Prix and that's something we all can enjoy; it's really going to be something quite special."

The inaugural US Grand Prix in Austin takes place on November 18th.

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