Back on the calendar for the first time since 2003, the Austrian Grand Prix is one of the sport’s classics.The original Osterreichring was undulating and fast; the A1-Ring, scene of that last race 11 years ago, was a shortened version of the original masterpiece, and we return to the same picturesque valley near Zeltweg this season.
The track has been re-branded the Red Bull Ring and the facilities have been upgraded, but the layout remains fundamentally the same as before.
Given the length of the straights, top speeds will be crucial once the race gets underway. Turn 2 is a particularly good overtaking spot, and who can forget our very own Juan Pablo Montoya tangling with Michael Schumacher there in 2001? This year’s race sold out early and it’s sure to be another cracker.
Rob Smedley: “Austria represents a new challenge for us and therefore a lot of new opportunity to do well. F1 hasn’t been there for 11 years so it’s exciting to go back. The layout of the track can pose issues on the tyres, especially as the temperatures can vary to quite hot or very cold, this can also change quickly. A hot track would affect the rear tyres as there is a large traction requirement, however in the colder conditions we may suffer with front right graining at Turns Five and Six. There may also be brake overheating problems as it is a high duty track, which is something we will need to look out for. The track is short and there are 71 laps which will affect the race strategy so we will have to be more dynamic in this area. All the teams will have done extensive work on the simulator to learn the typology of the circuit and the demands it poses on tyres and the car, so we are all prepared for an exciting weekend ahead.”
Felipe Massa: “There are very few guys who have driven the circuit which is a little advantage but the track and limit may have changed and the cars have changed so it won’t be the same as 11 years ago. It’s not a difficult track to learn and we have the best drivers in the world in F1 so they will be able to get up to speed very quickly. We can be competitive here but at the moment it’s hard to tell where we will be compared to our competition.”
Valtteri Bottas: “I’ve spent a lot of time in the simulator to prepare of Austria as I haven’t driven the circuit before. I have also spoken with Felipe as he is one of the four drivers who have raced this track in F1. Learning a new track has never been a problem for me and I have the practice sessions to get to grips with things. I have heard only good things about the track and the fans, so I am really looking forward to getting there. It’s a little unknown how competitive we will be as there will be some upgrades, but we will as always give it our best.”