Now, mind you...it wasn't a hot lap. Construction is still VERY much ongoing. But the entire track--including the start/finish straight--now has asphalt. Final layers will be put down in the next few weeks.
All I can say is WOW. Aerial photos and renders don't do justice to the elevation change in the first 2 sectors. Standing on the newly laid asphalt of the start/finish straight and looking up at Turn 1 is like looking at an asphalt wall 6 stories high. Not kidding. Front row on the grid has to shoot straight uphill and make the ridiculous blind hairpin at Turn 1. Expect major action on the first lap at that point!
Turns 3-8 are a mix of on- and off-camber, undulating corners, some of which are completely blind. What struck me most is the elevation change in this section. It's a writhing serpent.
The main straight (DRS zone) between 11-12 is uphill and partially blind due to the gradual crest. Turn 12 is the best overtaking point on the track and will be a great place to watch from. A lot has already been said about 13-15, a fantastic flat and technical section. 16-18 is a triple apex sequence reminiscent of turn 8 at Istanbul Park (but to the right instead of the left). Fantastic.
Major overtaking points at turns 1, 11 and 12. There will be a LOT of action at COTA. Due to the elevation change, there are tons of great places to watch from (whether you have GA or a seat).
In my opinion COTA has a level of character that is lacking in some of Tilke's other creations. For all those who believe Tilke occasionally designs "boring" tracks...this is certainly not one of them!
I've been following construction and the drama surrounding the project pretty closely and was worried that the facility would be disappointing after hearing about how it was scaled back. All of those fears were allayed after touring the facility--it's going to be truly world class.
As a side note, I'm very happy to hear that COTA will be hosting a Historic Grand Prix for vintage F1 cars (1966-1983) during F1 weekend. VERY cool. And it looks like there will be announcements about MotoGP and American Le Mans very soon!
For all of you that have tickets...start getting excited. It's going to be a fantastic race weekend.
Pictures when I get my camera back.