|© Circuit of The Americas
The Circuit of The Americas is ready to host a Formula 1 race after officials inaugurated the track with its ambassador and 1978 world champion Mario Andretti on Sunday.
The 'First Lap Ceremony' was originally scheduled with Andretti, actor Patrick Dempsey and Lotus’ reserve Jerome D’Ambrosio driving demonstration laps around the 5.5km track in a 2010 Renault F1 car but technical issues called off the run.
The 72-year-old however drove his championship-winning Lotus 79 around the track and was left impressed.
“It’s everything I expected and more,” Andretti said. “The track is phenomenal. It has all the features that you are looking for, giving you the opportunity to overtake, while negotiating some tighter corners. You can tell a lot of thought has gone into it.”
Dempsey, who is better known for his role as Dr Derek Shepherd in TV drama Grey’s Anatomy, too was present at the function. The 46-year-old actor is a keen motorsport enthusiast and has competed in the 24 Hours of Le Mans and the GRAND-AM Rolex Sports Car Series.
“It’s a very fast track with a great rhythm to it,” said Dempsey who also runs his own racing team. “For F1 it’s really important. I don’t think they’ve ever had a home base in America that has worked.
“It’s a really good opportunity for F1 to come back into this country and start a new tradition. This is a market that they need,” he noted.
The United States Grand Prix is set to make its first appearance, since its last race at Indianapolis in 2007, in November this year with the track in Austin, Texas to make its F1 debut as host to the penultimate round of the season this year.
“Construction workers in hard hats were busy at the site on Sunday, and Circuit of the Americas officials said the work remaining involved landscaping and finishing building interiors,” reported Reuters.