Whatever i have read suggests that Mercedes is well on course to have the engines ready. They fired up the engine a couple of months back. P.U.R.E seems to be working according to schedule. Ferrari are working on their engine too but little news about their engine as you said and Cosworth have refused to build one if i remember correctly.
Renault are very keen on the new ' greener ' engine and they have been for sometime. Their whole involvement probably revolves around it. It's for their consumer market and just like a V4 was never going to happen because it makes no sense for Ferrari, this is something Renault want equally bad. But delaying the process only means complete consensus and that will be hard to get if the next deadline, 24th july passes without any progress being made.
The Austin track looks pretty decent from the video you posted. You were right about the last part, looks very similar to the stadium section but the left hander is not like turn 8. Turn 8 is a monster with four apexes, this looks more like spoon with a double apex. Also the first sector is more like maggots, becketts section of Silverstone or maybe the famous Suzuka esses.
I don't know what to think of Maria, this was her first test for Marussia and this happens, second is what went wrong?? Marussia should have clarified this but their is no explanation from theirs side.
There was no reason to put her behind the wheel with her limited experience and in this day and age with so limited testing. Even for a straight line test, what was going to be her reference point. It was a photo-op which went really bad. The pictures and audio posted show a slow accident, she probably lost control and went into the back of the truck which had the back hatch open at 90 degrees. It's a freak accident but will lead to more noise about F1 drivers needing a canopy or something. She had no business driving the car especially given the nature of the crash unless something went really wrong with that car and the team are keeping quiet about it, unlikely though.
There is that other one at Williams, Susie Stoddart, now Susie Wolf, having married Toto Wolf who happens to have a big share in the Williams team, his wife gets the test driver role. There are enough girls in F1 as it is, don't want to name names but there are a few driving in F1 these days masquerading as men.