Drivers suggest changes to spice up Austin 400
Soft tyres and the full Grand Prix circuit layout will spice up future editions of the Austin 400 V8 Supercars event if the leading drivers have their way.
After much anticipation for the category’s debut at the Circuit of the Americas, a healthy Saturday crowd witnessed two largely pedestrian 100km races.
The consistency of the hard compound tyre and the corner-packed nature of the 3.7km circuit layout both appeared to contribute to the lack of action.
The low tyre degradation has Jamie Whincup, who led home Red Bull Racing Australia team-mate Craig Lowndes in both races, sure that the soft compound Dunlops will be introduced next year.
“I have no doubt that when we come back here next year we’ll have soft tyres,” he said after Race 14.
“The tyres are hanging in way too good. They’ll drop the compound and when they start tearing themselves apart it’ll mix it up.
“We weren’t to know that the tyre deg was going to be so good. We thought we’d be tearing them up as it was with so many corners.
“I think we’ve come with the wrong compound this weekend.”
V8 Supercars tested the soft tyre at the venue with its own Car of the Future prototype car on Thursday to evaluate its suitability for next year.
The circuit itself was widely lauded by the drivers after practice on Friday before the races revealed the difficulty of pulling off clean passing moves.
Describing the short course as “quite hard to pass” on, third place finisher in Races 13 and 14, Fabian Coulthard, believes that moving to the full 5.4km layout could open up more overtaking opportunities.
“I’m a fan of the long circuit; they’ve got a good couple of corners out the back there and into the hairpin,” he said having run the extended layout during a pre-event promotional drive day in the Holden COTF prototype.
“I think that they’re two big passing opportunities that we could have if we ran the long circuit.”
Whincup meanwhile was keen to emphasise the drivers’ appreciation for the circuit’s attitude towards tailoring the venue to suit the V8 Supercars.
A variety of ‘inner kerbs’ were added to key corners on Wednesday in order to keep the cars off of the regular flat kerbs designed for Formula 1 and MotoGP competition.
“It’s so good coming to a circuit where we needed the kerbs fixed up and you guys put kerbs in that were high quality and painted them over night for us,” he said.
“We’re very grateful for that, we’re not used to it at all. Generally we want a gravel trap graded which would take 10 minutes of someone’s time and two litres of fuel and it’s hard work.”
The kerb solution hasn’t been completely without controversy however as, in the absence of a electronic detection system, Race Control has had to individually inform teams of transgressions.