US GP: Drivers fear overtaking will be difficult at Austin
|By Matt Beer
||Friday, November 16th 2012, 23:35 GMT
Leading Formula 1 drivers fear there could be little overtaking in Austin's first United States Grand Prix.
Although the Circuit of the Americas layout has received great praise from the Formula 1 fraternity during its maiden GP weekend so far, with the high-speed sweeps of first sector particularly lauded, many have also voiced concerns about its passing potential.
McLaren's Jenson Button thinks the configuration precludes cars following each other closely.
"I don't think overtaking's going to be easy," he said.
"I think we need to find a mid-speed corner onto a long straight, not such slow speed corners, as it's very tricky to stay with the car in front.
"It's fun to drive and I hope that we can race well here and put on a good show.
"[But] I'm sorry to say that with the way the tyres are with low degradation, I don't think there's going to be a lot of overtaking."
Red Bull driver Mark Webber thinks the lack of off-line grip will be the main impediment to passing.
Asked how he rated Austin's overtaking potential, Webber replied: "Not the easiest track. Off-line it is very slippery. But it is a good circuit and we will see what the racing is like."
Button's team-mate Lewis Hamilton thinks the back straight DRS zone will see the majority of overtaking.
"The best point is going to be the back straight, simply because it's nice and long and has the DRS zone," he said. "Otherwise it's going to be pretty difficult to follow [rivals], particularly through the fast Turn 4/5/6/7."
But Toro Rosso's Jean-Eric Vergne argued that there were plenty of passing opportunities.
"It is very challenging with a lot of places where you can overtake," he said. "Even without DRS I can see some corners where you can pass, which will be good for the show."
Some also believe the dramatic rise into the tight and blind Turn 1 could cause first-lap trouble.
"I think first of all the left hand side of the grid will be a joke. You want to be on the right hand side if you can - pole, third or fifth. That will be the first thing," said Webber.
"Then I think the first corner is a bit like La Source at Spa so we all know about that..."
Kimi Raikkonen disagreed, though, suggesting Austin was no more or less likely to trigger first-lap shunts then any other venue.
"We have corners that are worse than this," he said. "We know that it's going to be tricky at the start and very slippery off the line.
"If everybody is smart enough then there's no issue, but if one guy tries to make a move then something can happen on any circuit."