Currently it’s the only race in North America, an incredibly important market for teams and sponsors. Last week the FIA confirmed next year’s USGP in Austin, Texas, which is good news. It means we’ll probably return to the successful North American back-to-back schedule with a race in Canada followed immediately by one in the US. It worked wonderfully until the grand prix in Indianapolis disappeared, and should work equally well again.
This circuit is a fascinating challenge for both man and machine. It has always been harsh on brakes, but now the drivers have degrading tyres to consider in addition to effect of full tanks in the early stages. I feel this will be a race where the outcome will depend as much on tyre and brake management as it will on DRS and KERS, which provide massive overtaking boosts on the long straights.
It is our first race with two DRS zones, and I must say the device really works. KERS is also working so much better than in 2009, and has certainly added to the excitement. The same goes for tyres. Monaco silenced the sceptics after we had a lot of overtaking, and Pirelli deserve a lot of credit for their approach.
The difference in lap times and degradation between supersofts and softs is about right. We saw that in Monaco, where we had identical compounds to those specified here. It was a very close race despite the first three finishers being on totally different strategies. I think that proves it, and we should say a big ‘Thank you’ to Pirelli.
Five wins from six starts this year suggest Sebastian Vettel has a stranglehold on the season, but if we analyse the situation we’ll find his victories have been far from clear-cut. There’s hardly been a race where he hasn’t had to work for it. That has made this season fascinating, and although he’s favourite to win on Sunday there are many outside factors such as Safety Car phases and rain to consider.
The big talking point in Canada was of course the Bahrain situation. I’m pleased it seems resolved, because a season starting with testing in early February and ending the second week of December is just too long for people travelling all over the world on a fortnightly basis. They need a break, or they’ll burn out.
When I ran Jordan Grand Prix I instigated the compulsory August break because I felt it important that people in Formula 1 aren’t only racers, but also responsible family people. I believe they and their loved ones deserve summer and winter breaks, and taking the season that close to Christmas leaves no time for holidays and getting on with the job of building and testing the 2012 cars. Something would have given, and I fear it would have been the people.