The merciless Texas sun, shining fiercely throughout the October weekend, wasn’t the brightest star on display at Circuit of America for the Formula One United States Grand Prix. There are movie stars, motorsports stars, and vaguely well-known types of influencers in certain corners of the internet. Most of them just avoided me.
I’m here as a guest of Pirelli – ostensibly to learn about how the technology in its F1 tires informs the types of tires that ordinary humans ride in ordinary cars, but also to blow my senses with as much glamorous grand prix experience as I can. This is my first time seeing F1 in real life.
Brad Pitt is here, but always not here, leaning against a barrier in the Haas garage or shuffling his way through a pre-race grid walk. Lewis Hamilton was more in the mix but he walked strong and headed for a fixed point, on the race track to his goal that allowed him to spend minimal time in the fray. Pharrell was also focused as he passed – it was his son’s birthday, which was more important than any question I might ask.
The only significant person I commented on was Bernd Mylander, the driver of the old safety car, whom I saw walking through the Alfa Romeo pit lanes. I greeted from the paddock two stories above on Saturday, causing him to turn left and right before looking up and giving me a peace sign that turned to thumb.
Formula 1 Safety Car Driver Bernd Mylander
The Drivers, How They Occupy Space
Mylander is rarely in his job as a non-partisan racer on the track, there to protect competitors in the event of a crash, slowing down until the race can safely resume. This may interest you : NFL teams use new fan jockey rights, UK revenue. He is one of the few forces that could make Hamilton or Carlos Sainz really go less fast.
These guys, the handsome F1 pilots of such global acclaim, can be mighty on the track, but less so personally, looking a little petite in the context of the large-scale Texas of the F1 weekend. As the crowd gathered to see them walk out onto the track on Sunday, I realized you couldn’t have more than a few rows of bodies in front of you if you wanted to see their squinting and smiling faces.
I was literally caught up in this crowd, where the race track staff joined hands to form a barrier separating the crowd on both sides. On the streamlined track they created, drivers made their way past and onto the track, flanked by NFL cheerleaders rocking pompoms. You can try to get close but, unless you have a media badge, you are restricted from trying to get past the people right in front of you.
All around were people vying for access, trying to figure out how to get through the next gate, closer to the next star that passed, and to the next most exciting event on the F1 calendar.
“I think we should go to Montreal next year,” a father walking along the back balcony of the paddock club told his elementary-school-aged son. The boy had a grander design that would be the next grand prix on their schedule.
“I think we should go to Monaco,” he said back to his father.
As this was my first time participating in an F1 race, my brain was filled with questions as I tried to process the spectacle: Will my pass get me into this area? How much does the hat cost at the merchandise stand? Was it Valterri Bottas riding a motorbike with his girlfriend escorted by a motorcade in front of us? How long will it take us to get out of this parking lot? Did George Russell really start the race by hitting someone again?
A Country Without A Team
“Have you seen Daniel Ricciardo’s horse?” is an important question at the weekend – I hear some guys asking one another. This may interest you : Colts Cheerleaders get first athletic trainer. Others have to do with where one’s loyalties lie, and which team or racer they would like to see win.
No doubt there are plenty of people here in Austin with modest responses, like the man I saw who seemed shaken at the prospect of meeting newly minted two-time champion Max Verstappen. (He intercepted Verstappen in the paddock for a photo and managed not to pass out.) Some were wearing weathered Ferrari hats that had ragged edges since the Schumacher era, or Mexican fans carrying banners for the Checo.
But for many new fans, the novelty of F1 hasn’t crystallized around any particular squad or character. For certain types of Americans who still cultivate their obsession with the sport, whose fandom began to develop on Netflix’s Drive to Survive and has recently spread to actual live racing, there is no easy answer to this question of who to support.
Take for example a boy, maybe 14 years old, who was in my group because we were given a VIP lanyard on Saturday, which elevates one’s status to the top tier of the social strata of the event.
“It’s like gold around here,” a Pirelli employee shared for our temporary usage suggestion.
We put it on and walked to the area behind the main paddock building. There’s more business on this side, away from the hospitality suites where guests are hosted above. But because it’s more exclusive, there’s more opportunity for closeness to fame, and therefore a bit more pursuit of influence. Someone takes stock of passers-by to determine if they are famous or just privileged for now. Guenther Steiner will pause for a selfie if you catch it at the right time.
The teenager led his father through the wide alley between the team’s garage and the team’s clubhouse, lingering by the crowd indicating several motorsport princes, one of them, was about to appear.
He spent some time near a McLaren and it paid off – Lando Norris zigzagging through a body-tight mouthpiece, completing just enough selfies and autographs so as not to look impolite, almost moving, and then taking a sharpie from someone to fulfill one more request, signed the teengar shirt before it disappeared.
“Lando is his favorite driver,” his father said excitedly.
The same boy will return to the Circuit of the Americas the following day in a Max Verstappen Red Bull jersey before a short scheduled appearance from the reigning champion in our suite. By the time the race actually started, he switched allegiances again and became a different red, wearing a red Ferrari shirt.
Would Lando have signed this youth kit if he had known how fickle his passions are? Am I, a man who has a McLaren jersey but left it at home because I feel there is not a good relationship with the squad, anything purer in my youth fandom? Is it important or is it appropriate to just walk around in awe – the circus, the croaking machine, the drama of every overtaking, the frame of the statue of Toto Wolff – without having to pretend to have a more specific devotion?
Brad Pitt On Allegiance
Brad, who was no more committed than me or the guy in the t-shirt, seemed to have the answer. He was a man of every team, albeit partly for political reasons. This may interest you : Judge Blames NFL Past As Reason For Deshaun Watson’s Light Suspension. The F1 film he’s working on has Hamilton as producer, but will also feature other grids.
So there he was in the Mercedes garage, watching Hamilton take control of the W13 who couldn’t wait to race on the last lap of a disappointing season. Brad appears in the Williams suite with director Jerry Bruckheimer. She chatted with Verstappen, she drove a glossy lipstick Ferrari with Charles Leclerc. A friend of mine who was present claimed the actor’s security team put him in the bathroom outside the McLaren hospitality area while Brad was pooping.
If Brad Pitt’s lack of loyalty in Austin can be attributed to Hollywood sensibilities, maybe I can explain mine in the same line. The whole reason I invested in this in the first place was drama, sensational versions of every grand prix presented to me by Netflix.
I’m not in favor of a single hero win because the protagonist changes roles at every turn. I’d like to see Hamilton blown up by Red Bull in the DRS zone only as long as someone threatens to fly past him too. I want to see Fernando Alonso really fly, lift the front of his car off the track, pull it back to the ground, and push it somehow to the finish line. Then I’d like to see Sebasitan Vettel knocked out by Haas on the last lap, even if Haas is technically the team I should support because it’s the most American outfit on the grid.
I want all. It’s enough to be overwhelmed to be there without investing emotionally in a single team or driver.
Note that this doesn’t necessarily apply to Apple CEO Tim Cook, who didn’t show an overwhelming emotional reaction over the weekend. Not during his visit to the Mercedes garage, where I saw him, in the distance, stone-faced in conversation with Brad and Hamilton. Not during the proud display of him, by fellow journalists in attendance, of the fan-made “Team Apple” race car award. Not during the culmination of the race, where he waves the checkered flag in the most sexless way possible.
Cook laps the track for a hot lap session hosted by tire sponsor Pirelli in an experience meant to unleash all kinds of high-speed emotions. I haven’t seen the footage yet – this trip around the track is recorded on various onboard cameras – but I’d pay a lot to watch it if only to confirm my hunch that its stoicism can’t be bent even by the Aston Martin Vantage F1 edition’s punch through the Circuit of America’s cursive corners.
On Saturday, I started my own hot lap, driven by a man who was introduced to me simply as “Jeff.” It’s hard not to be jealous of others being pushed by the man with the Mika Häkkinen and Mario Andretti embellishments, but I love Jeff.
He made me feel safe after I mentioned that I couldn’t afford another car crash this year, and more than anything he made me understand the intimate relationship between the driver and the course. He details his plans for each turn aloud, explaining why we speed up or slow down. It’s this slowdown that’s really impressive—how we so smoothly descend from 140 miles to glide through the corner. I’m sure I had more fun than Cook, the very nonchalant Apple executive.
Of Course, The Tires
Americanism, or the general cultural naivety of the sport, is not the only reason to remain neutral along team lines. Among the groups in the paddock, Pirelli’s men, who supply tires for the championship, also tend to take a diplomatic approach. (Pirelli was our host for the weekend, providing tickets for the United States Grand Prix, plane tickets, hotel stays, shade from the Texas sun, and lots of bottles of mineral water.) I pushed this a bit in a round table conversation with Mario Isola, head of Pirelli’s motorsport division, asking what he did about the strategic missteps that Ferrari deserved to be proud of throughout the 2022 season.
“That’s a tricky question,” he said with a laugh. “Basically, he is trying to understand whether Ferrari is wrong or not – I can’t say.”
Mario Isola, head of Pirelli’s motorsport operations.
Instead of making outspoken judgments, Isola offers lengthy answers on why different teams choose different tires throughout the race, explaining that they are working with a unique collection of information relating to their cars. He recounted the conversation with his hands, careful with the small cappuccino cup in front of him.
“Sometimes teams make mistakes,” Isola admitted.
So if the strategy deviates from what Pirelli recommends, this is normal and healthy for the championship, even if it means Lewis Hamilton issues a decision on the post-race cooldown room broadcast. This is a valuable reminder to those (like me) who sit at home and determine (with the guidance of the broadcaster) that they have accomplished a better plan than Scuderia.
The live race in Austin on Sunday — devoid of useful broadcast graphics and intertwined storyline notes — is another reminder of my relative ignorance. It’s just as thrilling as anticipated, and even more so considering how many people have belittled the grand prix live to me as a two-hour stretch of watching a brief sector of the race go by.
That’s technically what you get, but there’s a giant screen, frantic text messages, and bits of information circling around the paddock to fill in the rest of the action. There’s, for an American of my kind, no deep ties to squads passed down from generation to generation or reason to fire a beacon when a certain car wins, but there’s still a lot to take in.
When was the 1st F1 race?
The first Formula 1 race was the 1946 Turin Grand Prix. A number of Grand Prix racing organizations had established rules for world championships before World War II, but due to the suspension of racing during the conflict, the World Drivers’ Championship was not formalized until 1947.
What is the oldest Formula 1 race? The first World Championship Grand Prix was held in 1950 at Silverstone; since then a total of 76 circuits have hosted the Grand Prix.
Who won the first F1 race in history? Silverstone, May 1950: Giuseppe Farina of Alfa Romeo celebrates victory in Formula One’s first world championship race, the British Grand Prix.
What was F1 called before 1950? Formula One auto racing has its roots in the European Grand Prix championships of the 1920s and 1930s, although the foundations of modern Formula One began in 1946 with the standardization of the rules of the Fédération Internationale de l’Automobile (FIA), which was followed by the 1950s Drivers’ World Championship.
Who started F1 racing?
In 1946, after the war ended, the FIA (Federation Internationale de l’Automobile) standardized a set of rules and started a championship for drivers. The first Formula 1 races took place at Silverstone, England, in 1950.
Who invented F1 racing? Formula One was first defined in 1946 by the Commission Sportive Internationale (CSI) of the FIA, the forerunner of FISA, as the main single-seater racing category in motorsport which came into effect in 1947.
What country invented F1? The first Formula 1 races took place at Silverstone, England, in 1950. The first undisputedly sanctioned races took place in England, which may lead some to think of England as the home country of Formula 1.
Will BMW ever join F1?
BMW has not been part of F1 since 2009, but is not tempted to go back to following the new 2026 regulations. BMW is “certainly not interested” in entering Formula 1 for the new 2026 power unit regulations, although other manufacturers are tempted to do so.
Why isn’t Porsche in F1? The two parties were unable to agree on the terms surrounding the extent of Porsche’s integration into the Red Bull team. “The premise has always been that the partnership will be based on an equal footing, which includes not only engine partnerships but also teams,” said a Porsche statement. â€This is unattainable.â
Will Audi join F1? Latest. German manufacturer Audi will join the Formula 1 World Championship from the 2026 season as a power unit supplier. It comes after new power unit regulations, specifically designed to allow and attract newcomers to join the sport at a competitive level, were published earlier this month.
Will BMW have an F1 team?