Circuit of the Americas
The Circuit of the Americas has proven popular with F1 fans as an all-around great place to watch live motorsports. COTA’s elevation changes create ideal viewing from the grandstands and general admission areas. The best seats offer views of many corners and vast chunks of track.
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In Texas, it isn’t so much about which grandstand to choose, but which row. For most grandstands, the view from the upper sections tends to be spectacular in the sheer vastness of what you can see. Lower rows in the same grandstand can be quite average.
Grandstands on the main straight offer the best seats to enjoy the build-up to the race, the pitlane action and the podium ceremony. You’ll also be first in line for the track invasion.
There are three sections in COTA’s main grandstand, as well as the adjoining trackside bleachers. This gives fans with varying budgets the chance to experience being in the heart of the action at the US Grand Prix.
The main straight seats known as the trackside bleachers occupy an area to either side of the main grandstand. Facing the track, there are 3 blocks to the left (west) and 6 blocks to the right (east).
It’s the seats on the right of the stand that offer more desirable views. These seats line the first few rows of the grid and are closer to turn one. These reasons make them better seats than the west side bleachers and the more expensive Lower section of the main grandstand.
The trackside bleacher seats on the left are opposite parc ferme – where the post-race interviews take place – and the podium. Come the chequered flag, as others make the mad dash for the track invasion you can sit comfortably in your seat as you doff your Stetson to the top three finishers. On the downside, fans here don’t have a close-up view of the grid or the pit garages.
As with any bleachers, these seats are not highly rated for their comfort, being flat and hard and hot under the Texan sun. Foam cushions are available to buy at the circuit for about $10 but bringing something with you is advised.
The stands can feel a little cramped when full. Space is minimal at front and rear, though most will find there is ample space left and right. Trackside bleacher seats lack any kind of cover, leaving you exposed to sun, rain, and perhaps the odd hurricane.
Along with the trackside bleachers, the lower level seats are the closest you can get to the grid at COtA. This section lines the track from about the number 10 grid position to the final slots.
This really pays off for the post-qualifying interviews – the top 3 qualifiers park up here. For the frantic race preparations, the cars sitting on the track seem almost close enough to touch.
Once the sessions get underway though it can all be a bit of a blur. Besides the pitstops, you might end up watching the action on the giant screens rather than risk a neck injury trying to keep up with the cars on track.
The lower section is not covered, but it is shaded from the sun during the Grand Prix, leaving only the possibility of a rain shower to dampen your spirits.
Nicely elevated mid-way up the main grandstand, the view from the Mezzanine level lets you see further than the lower rows and is perfect for experiencing all the action on the start / finish straight.
Turn 1, though distant, is clearly visible thanks to the steep uphill nature of the circuit. Add to that a roof over your head and these are some of the best seats on the main straight.
A seat in the highest level of the grandstand offers a broad panorama over the start / finish straight, the pit complex and the last and first corners. Club ticket holders also enjoy a more exclusive experience with access to a nearby lounge offering food and drinks.
What’s not to love? Well, there’s no such thing as a free lunch and these premium nibbles are no exception, coming with an equally premium price tag. And that’s if you can get in – poor organization in past years has meant some guests have had to wait in line for a long time to access a packed lounge.
That doesn’t mean this option should be avoided, but it’s certainly worth keeping in mind and getting to the Club lounge early. Or, choose other seats for Sunday and make the most of the Club Lounge on Friday or Saturday when things are much more relaxed.
It’s also worth pointing out that though most seats in Club level are covered, some aren’t. Row 6 upwards is under the roof so fans sat in the lower rows may still have to suffer Austin’s changeable weather.HIGH BUDGET TV SCREEN COVERED RESERVED SEATS
Simply some of the best seats to watch the start of an F1 race, not just in Austin but anywhere. It can be an exciting, carbon-fibre strewn melee into turn 1 on the first lap of a Grand Prix. COTA’s tight, uphill left-hander is no exception, but that’s far from the only benefit of this very special grandstand.
The steep 133 foot run up the hill to turn 1 gives the elevated vantage point of the Turn 1 grandstand a dramatic view, and not just of the first corner. The view stretches from the final turn to turn 2 and includes the start / finish straight and the pit stops. There are even distant glimpses of the track all around the lap.
About the only drawback is the not-so-giant giant screen opposite the grandstand. Luckily a digital leaderboard at the pitlane exit makes keeping up with position changes easy.
Tip: Bring a pair of binoculars to look at the screen, and for the abundant people-watching opportunities in the pitlane and on the grid.MID BUDGET TV SCREEN COVERED RESERVED SEATS BEST IN PRICE RANGE F1S CHOICE
Inspired by Silverstone’s Maggotts / Becketts / Chapel section, the esses are an iconic part of the circuit. It’s not a common place for overtakes, but it is a thrill to watch Formula 1 cars show what they can do through this fast left-right-left-right sequence.
The nearby observation tower and stars ‘n’ stripes run-off area lend a unique look making any photos you take unmistakably COTA.
That this is probably the weakest grandstand view at the circuit only demonstrates the high quality of views to be had at the Austin track.
Grandstand 9 is perfectly placed on the crest of a hill over the outer section of track near turn 9.
Cars first appear down the hill from the exit of turn 7, as you look down on the racing from on high. Through a sequence of corners, the cars wind their way up to your level before they turn away and dart off downhill towards the turn 11 hairpin.
From here the long back straight carries them towards turn 12. Watching from a distance, the entire straight in sight, you can really appreciate how much distance a Formula One car can cover in a few short seconds.
For the sheer expanse of the view in from of you, the variation in track, and the elevation changes, this is an engaging place to watch from. It only falls short because of the lack of wheel to wheel action at this part of the track.
At many circuits, this would be a hands-down favourite. But with the standard of grandstand views so high at the Austin circuit, Turn 9 grandstand is merely a solid low-priced option.LOW BUDGET TV SCREEN COVERED RESERVED SEATS BEST IN PRICE RANGE
If you’re looking for a grandstand with a broad view over much of the circuit then Turn 12 Grandstand is the best at COTA. Seats here enjoy views of the track from turn 1, through the esses, right around to the final turn 20 – a staggering 15 corners on a 20 corner race track.
True, many parts of the track are distant and the cars pop in and out of view, but you get a sense of being able to follow the racing for the best part of a lap.
Turns 13, 14 and 15 are at a reasonable distance and turn 12, at the end of the long back straight is directly in front of the grandstand. The tight left-hand turn is a common overtaking spot under DRS.
Seats lower down in the stand have a good view of the nearby corners. But to see further and maximize that incredible view it’s worth paying extra for the upper rows.MID BUDGET TV SCREEN COVERED RESERVED SEATS
From the top level, this is another crowd-pleasing COTA view of many corners and worth every cent. But from the lower rows, things are pretty average with little more than an underwhelming view of turn 15.
Sat at turn 15, high up in the stand you can follow the racing from the back straight where cars brake hard into turn 12, where overtakes are common.
The duelling continues around the next 3 corner sequence before darting off and out of sight around turn 16. This section of the track is reminiscent of the stadium section at Hockenheim – one of the all-time greats of motorsport spectating.MID BUDGET TV SCREEN COVERED RESERVED SEATS
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There are some very attractive views from general admission areas around the Austin circuit and is an excellent choice for fans on a budget. It’s also worth checking out some of these spots if you have a grandstand ticket and feel like a change of scenery.
The undulating topography means there are many areas with an elevated view and can be even better than some of the lower rows of grandstands.
Turn 1 is arguably one of the best spots to unfold your camping chair. It’s rare in general admission to enjoy such a magnificent view of the main straight and pit complex and there’s no better place to watch the start of the race.
Be warned though – this area is very popular and crowded and getting the best spots will mean lining up well before gates open on Sunday.
It’s pure joy to watch an F1 car at speed through the snaking Silverstone-Esque turns 3 to 5 section. And just because you’re in general admission doesn’t mean you have to miss out on this. Views are mostly through the fence but it is worth spending some time in this area.
There’s a spectacular, view from a pedestrian bridge that crosses over the track between turns 2 and 3. The bridge is mostly covered and you’ll only be able to stand on the steps if you want to enjoy a clear view of the action. Worth seeking out for a photo opportunity though maybe not a practical option to spend the entire afternoon.
As we’ve seen, most of the best spots for general admission are in the first sector of the circuit. But a raised bank next to the penultimate corner affords an elevated view over the end of the lap and pitlane entry.
A good race strategy for general admission fans is to start at turn one where you can watch the start. When you feel you’ve had your fill of that view, meander around the track in either direction. Return to turn one later in the race for the pitstops and the checkered flag.
I’m Danny, an incurable Formula 1 fan for over 30 years and founder of The F1 Spectator. My aim is to inform and inspire, arming you with helpful tips and advice for your next F1 trip.