A rookie’s guide to F1 ahead of the US Grand Prix in Austin

A rookie’s guide to F1 ahead of the US Grand Prix in Austin | Soho House

With excitement around the motorsport reaching fever pitch, here’s everything you need to know for race day – including all the Houses to watch the action from

Friday 21 October 2022 By Soho House

F1 feels like the sport of the moment, and the excitement around it feels endless. For Americans, it seemingly came out of nowhere – Lewis Hamilton would have been the only thing a person could cite about F1, but now it’s hard to go a week without seeing a driver on television, in magazines, and all over social media. This weekend, the United States Grand Prix will take place at Austin’s Circuit of the Americas (COTA), and Soho House Austin is hosting a big race-day watch party (as is Soho House Chicago), so we wanted to give you a primer on F1, wherever you take in the action.

What’s happening in Austin this weekend?

This weekend marks the 10-year anniversary of the race at COTA. Last year, the event broke records for attendance, and this year is expected to surpass it: 120,000 spectators will attend the actual race, while more than 400,000 fans are expected to partake in the festivities throughout the weekend. There will be three practice races, a qualifying race on Saturday, and the main event on Sunday.

What is this race for? Also, what exactly is F1?

The race is part of the 2022 Formula One World Championship, in which drivers compete in races around the world, accruing points based on their finishes. For this weekend’s United States Grand Prix, drivers will compete more than 56 laps, which includes 20 turns (a key factor, when F1 cars can reach speeds of over 200 mph) on the carefully constructed circuit. Though most people are only aware of the drivers, companies like Ferrari, McLaren, Red Bull and Aston Martin form teams that have a minimum of two drivers (and a maximum of four), and the crew that helps design, build and maintain these performance vehicles.

Why are Americans suddenly so interested in it?

F1 in the USA isn’t new; it’s been around for the better part of the last century, but in the 2000s interest from Americans waned significantly. Now the tide has turned; of course, Hamilton has become a global icon but, even more importantly, the Netflix docuseries Formula 1: Drive To Survive has exposed the world to the other drivers, the drama, and the majesty of the sport.

This year, the Miami Grand Prix debuted as part of the championship, selling out quickly and drawing huge crowds. For the 2023 season, the Las Vegas Grand Prix will debut, making the United States the only country to hold three races next year – that’s a pretty clear marker of this renewed interest. 

Is Lewis Hamilton the favourite to win?

Hamilton has won the United States Grand Prix a record six times, but Red Bull’s Max Verstappen is the defending champion and he’s nothing short of exceptional. The 25-year-old won the 2021 World Championship, and after dominating the 2022 season with 12 wins, has clinched the 2022 World Championship as well.

OK, but who are all these other drivers I keep seeing on Instagram?

No one can deny the more superficial appeal of F1; young, handsome, international men traveling to grandiose locations with expensive cars. Sergio Perez of Mexico and Monte Carlo’s Charles Leclerc are second and third in the rankings, respectively, and finished in the last race in that position. Britain has a strong line-up in the top 10, with 24-year-old George Russell and 22-year-old Lando Norris – who gained popularity through his Twitch streams – in addition to Hamilton. Spain’s Carlos Sainz Jr has been all over Instagram for his charm and good looks, as is the charismatic Australian Daniel Ricciardo, who has been living it up this week in Austin sporting cowboy hats and riding horses.

So where’s the drama?

While Verstappen has already won the championship, the race for second place will be hotly contested, with only four races left in the year – including Austin. Drivers can get cut when they don’t get the race times that are expected; it’s more cut-throat than it lets on. Ricciardo is enjoying his weekend in Austin, but will not return to the McLaren racing team next season after disappointing seasons.

Should I go to Austin?

The US Grand Prix is a spectacle, and there’s much more to do beyond Sunday’s race. COTA has spaces for food and festivities; Green Day, Ed Sheeran, Interpol, and Shaquille O’Neal (under his DJ moniker, Diesel) are headlining the music line-up. There will be adjacent racing attractions, including the Pit Stop Challenge and racing simulators. But you can also enjoy the race in the comfort of a watch party. Soho House Austin’s race-day viewing party will feature a themed food menu and custom Patrón cocktails to fuel the thrill of the race.

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