Eyes from all over the F1 world already upon Austin


by HEATHER KOVAR / KVUE News and photojournalist SCOTT MCKENNEY

Bio | Email | Follow: @HeatherK_KVUE


Posted on November 5, 2012 at 7:23 PM

Updated Tuesday, Nov 6 at 7:00 PM

AUSTIN--  The international audience isn't waiting for the weekend of Nov. 16 through Nov. 18 to talk about Circuit of the Americas. Instead, as soon as Sunday's Formula 1 race in Abu Dhabi was complete "Austin" lit up the online chatter.

Abu Dhabi was the 18th race of the 20-race 2012 season. Up next is Circuit of the Americas.

Since it's the next-to-the-last race of the season, which is in Sao Paulo, word is the World Championship could be determined at Circuit of the Americas.

Despite that the track is in Elroy, the world is looking at it as Austin.

For instance, in a post-race interview from Formula1.com, Red Bull driver Sebastian Vettel said, "We will have to go on full attack in Austin."

Not only will it be Vettel's 100th race, but he could grab the World Championship at Circuit of the Americas. Vettel leads Alonso by 10 points with two races remaining and could potentially clinch the title at the U.S. Grand Prix on Nov. 18.

"Sebastian Vettel with Red Bull racing and Fernando Alonso with Ferrari are in a very heated competition. Right now they are very close in points. Each race winner receives a different amount of points per position," said Kerri Olsen, CEO and co-founder of www.TheAustinGrandPrix.com.

Vettel leads Alonso by 10 points with two races remaining. Plus, they'll compete on a brand new track.

Olsen has been following and writing about Formula 1 for the past two years, documenting its movement into Austin.

"At the beginning it was really educating people about what is Formula 1. Then we saw an opportunity to take this international fan base of F1 and teach them about Austin," she said.

Olsen says she's seen some milestones.

"When tickets went on sale, that's when we really saw a whole shift in people's perception of 'Is this happening?' 'Are we gonna have a race here?'"

She says with each race the excitement grows and so does the online chatter. Olsen says expect more as the teams and drivers arrive.
"They'll start to talk about Austin, and the feel they get for the city, and how they're adjusting to the climate change," Olsen said.

There is also online talk about the weather that weekend of Nov. 16-18. Some are speculating rain, which of course could affect drivers on the track, as well as fans trying to get there. Heavy fog on Saturday is blamed for backed up traffic to Formula Run. Some sat in traffic for up to an hour-and-a-half.

Learning from that, organizers are urging people to plan ahead. Ali Putnam, media and community relations manager for Circuit of the Americas, urges people to leave early, know your driving route or where to catch the shuttle.

Putnam says preparation is key.

"We really want people to prepare to get there early, leave early and stay for the day. We are going to have a music festival-type of atmosphere, lots going on at the track," she said.

She also says the final touches are underway at the site itself, including on landscaping, temporary hospitality, having furniture moved in and out and getting pictures hung. There are also preparations to greet arriving teams and media from all over the world. Putnam says about 400 international media that follow the race the full season, and that they are excited to see a new track and watch what is geared to be an exciting race.