Pirelli: COTA track surface 'a question mark for everyone'

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Pirelli F1 boss Mario Isola says teams will kick off their US Grand Prix weekend with little information about COTA's resurfaced track regarding tyre wear.

Formula 1's exclusive tyre supplier has nominated for Austin the three compounds in the middle of its range - the C2 hard, C3 medium and C4 soft rubber, a selection theoretically well suited to the wide range of demands imposed by the Texan circuit.

However, since F1 last visited Austin in 2019, the Circuit of the Americas has been resurfaced, and travel restrictions due to the global pandemic prevented Pirelli's engineers from measuring the roughness of the new asphalt.

All preliminary data is therefore based on information collected in 2019, which means that teams will be heading a bit into the unknown the action begins on Friday.

"Although the teams have quite a lot of experience of Austin, this year they face a track that has changed a bit compared to 2019, when we last raced here," explained Isola.

"Around 40% of the track has been resurfaced, but due to COVID-19 restrictions we were not able to send our personnel to analyse the new asphalt, so its characteristics are a question mark for everyone and we will only discover the final effects on tyres and car performance in general when we are there.

"As usual, the tyre nomination was done based on data obtained before the race, with the compounds in the middle of the range well-suited to the circumstances.

"With the championship battle so finely poised as we enter the final few races of the season, it's clear that every element of strategy will count – as we saw at the last race in Turkey."

Lack of preliminary tyre data is perhaps a secondary concern for teams and drivers who are fearing a bumpy ride around COTA following complaints expressed earlier this month by MotoGP riders.

FIA race director Michael Masi has said that US Grand Prix organisers have undertaken grinding work to smooth out depressions in the track's surface in several areas, but only Friday's opening practice session will reveal the extent of the improvements.

Finally, the weather in Texas is often unpredictable at this time of the year, with competitors facing the risk of cool temperatures or rain in the region.

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