Everything to Know About October’s Formula 1 Race in Austin
Brush up on the track, the drivers and the entertainment schedule
Austin’s fall event calendar is intense. Right on the heels of Austin City Limits is the F1 Aramco United States Grand Prix, which turns Austin into an F1 hotbed for one weekend each October. Taking place Oct. 21 through Oct. 23, it’s a three-day celebration of fast cars, music, food and good times.
If you’re attending for the first time, or just need a primer on what to expect this year, here’s what you need to know.
America Has Finally Embraced F1
A much-loved sport overseas, Formula 1 has had a tenuous relationship with the American market. Past Grand Prixs have been held elsewhere across the country, usually as one-offs, until a seven-year run in Indianapolis began in 2000. But after leaving Indy, the sport lost status as a regular fixture stateside. That was until 2012, when Circuit of the Americas opened in Austin, kicking off an annual race that reestablished America’s interest in the sport. Formula 1 entered Miami earlier this year with a race in May, and next year, F1 goes to Las Vegas, making the U.S. the only country to host three races in 2023.
It’s a Three-Day Affair
The main event goes down on Sunday, when the top drivers will compete for the title. But a lot happens leading up to the primary race. There are practice runs and qualifying sessions on Friday and Saturday, so you can watch your favorite drivers take laps. There’s also the Masters Endurance Legends race featuring iconic cars from major events held between 1995 and 2016, which will take the track in a few different categories. All in, there’s a lot of racing to watch over three days.
The Austin Track Has 20 Turns
Circuit of the Americas is situated on 1,500 acres of land just outside of Downtown. This isn’t a boring oval — over the course of 3.4 miles, the track’s straight stretches are joined by tight, technical corners, and drivers face 11 left turns, nine right turns and 130 feet of elevation change per lap. The venue seats 120,000 spectators, and about 400,000 people are expected to take part in events throughout the weekend.
Lewis Hamilton Has Dominated This Race
British driver Lewis Hamilton has won five of the nine races held at Circuit of the Americas — 2012, 2014, 2015, 2016 and 2017. Nobody else has more than one victory. Last year, Dutch driver Max Verstappen held off Hamilton, who finished second, and is a favorite to win again this year. Verstappen holds a sizable points lead in the 2022 standings and appears primed to capture another victory, but other top drivers including Charles Leclerc and Sergio Perez are expected to be in contention.
The Winning Driver Will Spray Italian Sparkling Wine
It’s not an official victory until the driver standing atop the podium sprays everyone with bubbly.
This year marks the first time in nearly a century that an Italian sparkling wine, Ferrari Trento, has knocked champagne off the podium. Ferrari Trento is the largest exporter of traditional method sparkling wines in Italy, producing about six millions bottles per year. How many will get popped on October 23, sprayed onto onlookers and chugged straight from the bottle remains to be seen.
There’s More to Do Than Just Watch Racing
The three-day weekend is loaded with events, including plenty that are unrelated to fast cars. Circuit of the Americas is also home to Austin’s largest outdoor amphitheater, and each year, the race is supplemented by major acts, with past shows featuring Elton John, Justin Timberlake, Taylor Swift and Bruno Mars. This year brings Green Day on Friday night and Ed Sheeran on Saturday, with more than 30 musical acts performing throughout the weekend. When you’re hungry, wander into one of the massive complex’s immersive villages, where you’ll find local restaurant vendors slinging food and drinks.
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