The Formula One teams are at Austin, Texas for this Sunday's (November 18) U.S. Grand Prix at the new Circuit of the Americas.
It is the penultimate race of the 2012 season and Sebastian Vettel leads the drivers' championship with 255 points from Ferrari's Fernando Alonso on 245. With 25 points for a win the championship could be decided in Austin or go to the final race in Brazil.
Ferrari academy driver Jules Bianchi, who has been test driver for Force India this season, has been learning the new track on Ferrari's computer simulator. The Frenchman is in the running for the second Force India seat next season after Nico Hulkenberg announced his move to Sauber.
"Let's say that Austin race track is really interesting," he said. "You have a lot of really quick corners, the first part is really similar to the first part in Japan, and the back is as in Silverstone so I think it is going to be really interesting in terms of driving and then you have a lot of slow corners as well so I think it is a new track that is really interesting - it is one of the best tracks that I have seen now."
Bianchi said that the Ferrari team knew this race was probably their best chance to wrest the championship from Red Bull Racing's Vettel.
"I think we are working really hard for that," he said. "We are just trying to improve the car for this race. It's really important for the rest of the championship and I think we can be confident as well."
Pirelli are being conservative and taking medium and hard tyres to Austin rather than opting for soft. The track surface is newly laid and Pirelli are not sure what chemicals will be present as the surface "cures".
"You have got to be quite conservative at a new track because you don't want to be found out, you don't want to get there and have a big surprise and then of course everyone would say well why weren't you conservative?" said Pirelli motorsport director Paul Hembury. " Having said that the temperatures are going to be high, the layout is very good, it is a nice circuit from a driver's point of view for sure. We believe - we hope for a two stop race. I say hope because this season there has been this tendency towards the end to go to one stop, and we set out with the plan to have a two stop race and from the data we have it looks like a two stop race but ask me on Friday night after we have done the first running," he added.
Pirelli will be careful to avoid the 2005 debacle at the U.S. Grand Prix at Indianapolis when Michelin brought tyres to the race which proved liable to puncture at high speed. After the opening lap the Michelin runners filed into the pits leaving just six Bridgestone runners to dispute the race.