It’s hard to believe that the 2015 Formula 1 United States Grand Prix is already over. It seems we talked about it for months, and in the blink of an eye it was all over. Let’s take a look at what the experience was like for our #COTAVIP!
Thursday, Oct. 22
For COTA VIP, the Formula 1 weekend kicked off Thursday evening with the Circuit of The Americas Experiences’ Redline Party. The F1 party started with a tour of COTA’s iconic Tower. As COTA VIP made their way up the 25-story Observation Tower via elevator a joke quickly stuck. The elevator only has two buttons, “1,” for the first floor, and “2,” for the second which happens to be 251-feet above the first.
Fans enjoyed a champagne toast while taking in the breath-taking, almost 360 degree view of the 3.4-mile track. As the sky began to clear up, fans were then treated to a spectacular scene of the Central Texas countryside and the Austin skyline.
After the Tower tour, fans made their way to the Legends Club, where the night was only just beginning! As the doors to the Legends Club opened, rain began to fall on the circuit. Luckily, for our COTA VIP, the Legends Club provided the protection from unpredictable Mother Nature AND continued to do so throughout the rain-soaked weekend.
The champagne toast atop the Tower set the tone for the evening. The bar featured the best top-shelf liquor on the market, and boy were the drinks flowing. Guests indulged in the premium open bar throughout the night and really let loose.
Is it a party without food? Of course not! The Legends Club created quite the feast of heavy hors d’oeuvres for our VIP to enjoy. The gourmet spread was, for lack of a better word(s), sensory-overload. The smell, the look, and of course the taste, gave fans all of Texas’ best flavors in one spot, without ever having to leave the Legends Club.
During the meal, guests got a special treat in the form of a Q&A session with two-time Formula 1 World Champion, Mika Häkkinen. Mika shared some of his most personal moments from his racing career along with some thoughts on the future of Formula One.
Whether you were a racing fan or not, Mika enamored everyone in the Legends Club with his charm and humor. Fans also had the opportunity to ask Mika their own questions and then take pictures with the Legend himself; some even brought memorabilia for Mika to sign!
The Thursday Redline Party concluded with a concert by the Drew Womack Band. Drew Womack brought Bonnie Whitmore as a special guest for this show. The duo along with Womack’s band gave us one heck of show!
Even a little liquid courage was not enough to get ALL of the guests to show off their dance moves. Although, you could see many of them bopping their heads along to the funky music.
Friday, Oct. 23
The following day would proved to be probably one of the most difficult days in COTA’s history. The dark clouds and sudden-bursts of wind foreshadowed what the day had in store for us. Fans began to arrive at the track early morning with plenty of time for them to get situated in their seats and get ready for the first Formula 1 practice session. The weather had a different story written, however. Showers struck the circuit overnight and most of the morning that left the track damp at the start of FP1.
Drivers headed out on the extreme wet tire early on, with Sauber drivers Marcus Ericsson and Raffaele Marciello setting the pace before the track dried out and allowed for running on the intermediate compound. None of the teams opted to undertake excessive running, instead preferring to complete the required car checks and installations before some gentle wet laps in the spray. Rosberg set the pace for Mercedes, posting the fastest lap of 1:53.989 to finish 1.2 seconds clear of the field in P1, drawing first blood at COTA despite completing just a handful of laps.
Fans quickly retreated back to the Legends Club for the Lunch with a Legend event shortly after FP1 to take shelter from the increasingly bad weather. The Legends Club once again proved to be a savior for many from the scary conditions outside. Once inside, VIP guests enjoyed a gourmet lunch filled with deliciously prepared espresso-rubbed pork tenderloin, smoked carrots, Bucatini pasta, and of course, yummy desserts!
During the Lunch with a Legend event, Mika Häkkinen made another appearance (COTA VIP have the option to partake in the Thursday night’s Redline Party or Friday’s Lunch with a Legend), for the fans in the Legends Club. He answered questions from fans, signed autographs after the lunch and took pictures with all of the guests.
Shortly after the lunch, it became apparent the weather was becoming more of a threat to the safety of the track’s visitors. The rough weather forced the cancellation of the second Formula 1 practice session and ultimately led to the track’s decision to close its gates early as the weather did not seem to let up.
Saturday, Oct. 24
Saturday morning came and the weather did not let up. The track did not open gates until 12 noon on Saturday with a soft opening at 11 a.m. Once again, the weather foreshadowed the type of day we were all about to experience.
The Formula 1 Qualifying was scheduled to take place around 1 p.m. but what we had learned the past two days, was that anything can happen. After the weather persisted the Qualifying was pushed back every 30 minutes until about 5 p.m. when FOM (Formula One Management) officially made the call to push it for Sunday morning.
Meanwhile in the Legends Club, the premium hospitality treated fans like royalty. The premium open bar kept fans warm (coffee and hard top-shelf liqour were offered) from the cold and wet conditions outside, and the full spread of gourmet food kept fans happier than Winnie the Pooh with a pot full of honey.
As a sign of appreciation to the dedicated fans of Formula 1. CEO of Formula 1, - Bernie Ecclestone, U.S. Grand Prix promoter Bobby Esptein and Austin Mayor Steve Adler invited ALL fans that were still at the circuit into the pit areas. The garages were opened and fans were treated to an inside look at the pit lane - an unprecedented access that’s not offered to many!
Sunday, Oct. 25
The big day had finally arrived! The track opened an hour earlier to accommodate for the early Qualifying round that had been postponed the day before. As guests arrived the weather had began to clear and tiny slivers of hope peaked through the clouds every now and then, giving us just that little bit of hope we needed that today was going to be a good day!
Around 10 a.m. the Qualifying kicked off and the Formula 1 engines were heard throughout the circuit. No matter what the sky looked like at that moment, a fiery passion for racing peaked inside all of us.
Nico Rosberg started the 2015 Formula 1 United States Grand Prix from pole position, locking out the front row with Mercedes teammate Lewis Hamilton. Rosberg set the fastest time in Q2 at Circuit of The Americas on Sunday morning, before Q3 was cancelled due to worsening rain.
As the weather gods finally smiled on Circuit of The Americas, for a long time it looked like Mercedes’ one-two in a crash-strewn race was going to be the wrong way round, with Rosberg seemingly headed for victory. Hamilton needed to be in front of the German in order to ensure that he outscored Vettel by nine points.
Rosberg had lost the lead as Hamilton aggressively eased him aside in the first corner, but he retook it from Red Bull’s Daniel Ricciardo during the pit stops on the 19th lap and held it through various virtual and real safety car interventions until the 48th lap.
Then, under pressure from Hamilton, he slid wide in Turn 12, and suddenly the roles were crucially reversed. Hamilton, who had clearly struggled initially on intermediate tires on a very slippery track, was then able to take not only to his 10th win of the year, but the one that would allow him to achieve his life ambition of matching his hero Ayrton Senna’s three championships!
The action was non-stop in Sunday’s 2015 Formula 1 United States Grand Prix and only on lap 49 of 56 did Lewis Hamilton move ahead of Mercedes teammate Nico Rosberg to seal victory – and with it a second successive world championship, the British driver’s third in total.
Hamilton thus came away with an unassailable point total of 327 – with Vettel on 251 and Rosberg 247 – with three rounds of the season remaining. The race for 1st place may be over but it’s still to be determined who will be on the podium next to Hamilton in the final. Up next is the Mexico Grand Prix. See you there!