Early morning in Austin is beautiful this time of year. Cool temperatures, sunny skies and the smell of the Texas fall in the air. It’s also the smell of tires, petrol and innert gasses used in the filling of tires along the pit lane as Formula One gets set for the third and final practice session Saturday morning.
The engines are test-fired and early spectators have made the pilgrimage to the circuit in the wee hours of the morning. So how’s the traffic? It’s actually been very manageable so far. Friday and Saturday was handled very well by the Circuit of the Americas and we had no trouble at all reaching our parking spot and making the trek to the circuit.
We’ve been leaving around 7AM local time and have had no issues but the spoils go to the early birds. As for the press? Well, like the consumate professionals they are, they have been here before the sun rose and they march to a schedule that includes interviews, team meetings and conversations. They share a lot of information with each other in the press room.
As a relatively tight-knit group, it’s a bit like working in an office but this office happens to move around the world. They have their own “Dilbert” moments but like all offices, there is water cooler talk and a typical co-worker mentality to the process.
Today will see the Ferrari Challenge and Historic races ran as well as the main attraction, Formula One qualifying. My money is on Sebastian Vettel but he had limited time to really find the limits of the car in yesterday’s FP2 when the track had gained grip and the cars were increasing their pace and confidence int he corners.
For those traveling this weekend or for future reference, the shuttle system is really a good bet for getting to the circuit. Some fans have complained about shuttle lines and the time waiting but I think the shuttle niggles are simply an issue of getting the timing down better between drivers of when to leave the circuit and anticipate the travel time to and from. Saturday seems a little more oiled and efficient. Just remember, it never hurts to be very early.