The next stop on the 2014 Formula One calendar as the F1 circus arrives at the new-look Red Bull Ring. Founded as the Österreichring and later renamed the A1-Ring, the Red Bull Ring will host the first Austrian GP since 2003. Ferrari were the last team to win a Formula One race in Austria.
Mercedes – Austrian GP
“Montreal was a bit of a strange one for me. I felt I had the pace right from the beginning of the weekend, but things just never quite came together. It’s frustrating when these things are out of your hands. The two DNF’s so far this season have not been ideal but that’s racing and there’s a long, long way to go. I caught up before and I can catch up again. It’s going to take another four wins to make the difference so I’m going to do my best to get those results. Right now, I’m just looking ahead to the next race in Austria and another chance to catch up to the lead. I’ve never driven the circuit but I’ve been working on it in the simulator and I’m sure I’ll learn it pretty quickly when we get out on track. It’s always exciting to go to a new venue, so it should be an interesting weekend. I’m feeling good in the car right now and I’ll be pushing flat out to come away with maximum points this time around.”
“Although it was a really, really tough day, I’m pleased with the result in Montreal. The car was strong throughout the weekend, so to have the problems we experienced in the race was not what we expected. It just goes to show that you can never be too well prepared and our priority has been to make sure the car is bullet-proof for the rest of the season. When you take everything into account, finishing second in that race was quite an achievement for everyone in the team. But we know we cannot afford to slip up, as our rivals are always there to take advantage. I’m looking forward to the next race in Austria and a chance to get back to our winning form once again. Although I’ve driven the circuit before, that was more than ten years ago in F3: back when it was still called the A1 Ring! Of course, it will be very different in a Turbocharged, V6 Hybrid Formula One car, so it’s basically like starting from scratch for everyone on the grid. Personally, I love that kind of challenge, so I’m excited to get back in the car and go for another top result.”
Toto Wolff, head of Mercedes-Benz Motorsport
“Canada was a weekend of mixed emotions. On the one side, we had strong pace throughout the weekend. On the other, a small glitch in what has been an extremely reliable package so far this season proved to be extremely detrimental when it really counted on Sunday. It’s something we immediately moved to analyse, understand and rectify to make sure it does not happen again. Nico drove a fantastic race to maintain second position, while it was just a case of extremely bad luck for Lewis who was forced to retire. Obviously, Nico now holds an increased gap at the top of the Championship, but Lewis is a fighter and I have no doubt that he will come back stronger than ever. There is still a long way to go with twelve races remaining – thirteen if you count the double points round – so his challenge is far from over. This race shows how quickly things can change – not just between drivers, but between teams also – so we will be pushing harder than ever to ensure that we do not give away any more valuable points to our rivals.”
Paddy Lowe, Mercedes team executive director (technical)
“The performance of the car in Canada was once again very strong. Unfortunately, we were unable to fully capitalise on that performance in the race. We saw an extraordinary drive from Nico to salvage second place with malfunctioning machinery, but it was extremely unfortunate for Lewis that we were unable to manage the failure on his car to the same extent. This has once again created a sizeable points deficit for Lewis through no fault of his own. But, of course, we are doing our utmost to give both drivers the opportunity to compete for the Championship on equal terms. We put a significant amount of effort into understanding the problem that occurred in Canada and ensuring that there will be no repeat in Austria. We’re excited by the prospect of a return to Spielberg after many years away and hoping for a return to form results-wise. It’s a short circuit with a lot of braking and high fuel consumption, so it will be another challenging race. The venue is also at high altitude which, owing to the low atmospheric pressure, places a different kind of duty on the Power Unit to what we’ve seen so far. It will be interesting to see how well both we and the competition respond to that.”
Lotus – Austrian GP
“Competing in the Grand Prix will be my first experience there, which is a pretty cool way to get to know a track! It looks like quite a fun lap with some high speed sections and not too much low speed stuff – which hasn’t suited our car so far this year. The track has a bit of undulation too, which is always fun as a driver. A downhill approach to a corner means you have to drive it quite a bit differently than if it’s an uphill approach and Spielberg has both of those. It should be fun.
“We won’t know for sure until we’ve been out on track, but I don’t think the circuit should be as much of a challenge to us as Monaco or Montréal. Certainly there are fewer low speed corners which seem to have been more difficult for us this season and the downforce level could suit us better too.
“I am positive. Even though the end result in Canada might not show it, we’ve actually made good progress with the car and it’s starting to feel like a real racer in how it handles and how all the systems feel. This is very important to me as it helps you get the most out of the car through every corner to make the most of every lap.”
“I know the track, but it was maybe ten years ago when I last raced there and it will be new for me in an F1 car. I think it should be quite good for the E22. It looks like the circuit doesn’t have too many low-speed corners and the downforce and set-up is similar to Barcelona, which should help us. We will work hard to solve the problems we had in Canada so that we can reach our targets in Austria. I’m certainly optimistic Austria will suit us better than the last two rounds.
“[The last time I raced there] was in Formula Renault and I finished on the podium. Actually I think I won, but I don’t remember to be honest! It’s a high-downforce track. Most of the corners are very quick, especially in the second sector. It’s a lot of fun to race there and I’m happy to be going back.”
Federico Gastaldi, Lotus deputy team principal
“It’s good to see another race on the calendar and it exposes our sponsors and partners to another market. For the drivers and engineers it presents a different challenge. It’s quite a short track, but one with plenty to think about. The racing could well be very good.
“We have potential which is still to be fulfilled. Canada was a kick where it hurts for everyone at the team but we took stock, identified the issues and have taken action to avoid any repeats. The last thing you want is both cars sat in the garage at the end of a race, but that’s what we had. Thankfully it is very rare for us.”
Nick Chester, Lotus technical director
“The layout requires a medium-downforce package for the car. In terms of demands it’s similar to Bahrain with some decent straights and then an infield section with medium speed corners. So it’s lower downforce than some tracks on the calendar. Pirelli’s track surface analysis points to a relatively non-abrasive, smooth asphalt which is why we will see the soft and super soft allocation once more.
“We raced there from 1997 to 2003, so there’s a certain knowledge bank we can dip into. In particular we have information about driving lines which improves the accuracy of our simulations. In contrast, with a brand new circuit it’s more complicated because we have to generate a driving line to be able to run a simulation and without a real driving line the simulated corner speeds will not necessarily be 100 percent. We’ve already got real data for Austria, so we can do a basic simulation quite easily.
“We have a number of aero updates and we have some more work to do on braking. There is a good chunk of time still to be found in the braking zone and the key to unlocking this potential is enabling the latest brake-by-wire systems to deliver better feedback to the drivers.”
Red Bull – Austrian GP
“I have great memories of the Red Bull Ring. I was 13 years old when I first drove around it. I had the chance to test a Formula car from the Auinger family. That is a huge step if you’re coming from a karting background. It was something completely new and it took me a while to get used to it. I’m really happy that we will race there. The circuit is actually very pretty, not only the track, but the whole area. The circuit’s set amid a beautiful natural landscape. There are not many distractions there – it’s just about racing. The Red Bull Ring is a short track, with only a few turns, but it’s very challenging. There are also a lot of elevation changes, which makes it interesting and fun. The fans will have a great time as every grandstand offers a great view of the circuit.”
“It’s great to be going to Red Bull’s home race after an awesome weekend in Canada. I’ve only driven the Red Bull Ring on filming days, essentially a handful of laps without the out-and-out aggression that you’ll see at the Austrian Grand Prix weekend. It’s a tidy circuit, not the longest and not many corners, but what is there is good. Turn 1 is cool as it climbs up the hill. It looks tight, but actually isn’t. Turn 2 is quite a tight right-hand corner, going uphill and off-camber as well. Then it drops back down all the way through the rest of the track. It’s very odd going to what, essentially, is a new race but in a place where the racing history is firmly established. It sounds as though there will be a massive crowd up in the mountains and I’m sure the return of the Austrian Grand Prix will get off to a really good start.”
“Together with Russia, this race is one of the big question marks for everyone this year. The track has some long straights and a few slow corners that should suit us, and we can count on making the most of softer compounds as we did in Canada. When you go to a new track it’s even more important to maximise the practice sessions because there is so much more to learn. The lap is quite short so the gaps between the cars will be minimal and even small mistakes can make a big difference. We have shown once more to be both competitive and consistent, but we will need to keep our guard up and keep working hard as we did from the start. There will be tracks where we will be stronger and where we can capitalise on the opportunities we have, and tracks that will be more of a challenge. I know what plans the team has for the rest of the season and I see no reason why we cannot keep battling at the level we are at now.”
“I don’t really know what to expect because it’s my first visit to the track, but I’m really looking forward to going there. It’s a circuit that not many people know and so it can give you an opportunity to find a small advantage. You have to learn fast and be ready to adapt. A new circuit is always a bit more of a challenge, but it’s interesting and I like the look of the track layout. I think the layout of the track will work well for our car. Hopefully we will have the opportunity for another strong performance there.”
Dr Vijay Mallya, Force India team principal
“The last time Formula One raced [in Austria], the cars were very different from what they are now so it is difficult to predict how the pecking order will be. We don’t expect massive surprises, however – cars that have been competitive so far will retain their advantage. The track layout seems likely to be favourable to the characteristics of the VJM07, but the competitive order is very tight and we will need to be performing at our best to come away with a good result.
“Nico drove a brilliant race [in Canada] to score another ten points, but up until the last lap it looked like being an even sweeter result with both cars very well placed. The accident for Sergio on the last lap took that away from us, but we should not forget the positives: our tyre management was excellent and we were able to race at the front and challenge for the win. It was one of our strongest races. By no means are we going to ease off at this point. The development race is not going to stop: we are working hard to bring updates to the car and give our drivers an even better chance to score big results.”
“The track in Spielberg is new for me and for many other drivers as well. It is always interesting to have new tracks on the Formula One race calendar. Last year there were quite a few tracks on which I drove for the first time, and now with Spielberg there is another new one. It is a fast circuit, so I am going to enjoy it. It will be an interesting event as the Austrians like Formula One and are nice and cheerful people. I hope we can feel the passion and the support for the sport, so that it can be a successful event. I am looking forward to the race weekend.”
“I am looking forward to the Austrian Grand Prix. I have never been to Spielberg with Formula One. I know the track from previous racing series in my career, and I really like it. At that time I was participating in Formula Ford and Formula 3. Obviously, I hope for a positive result there. In Canada it was good to finish the race and to get the maximum out of the car. The team also did a great job with the strategy and the pit stops. I hope we can build on this and make steps forward in every area. I am keeping up my motivation, and I am looking forward to the weekend in Spielberg.”
Giampaolo Dall’Ara, Sauber head of track engineering
“The track in Spielberg is a relatively short one, consisting of significant straights with medium speed corners and a hairpin. The race is back on the calendar after 11 years, so it will be interesting to set up the modern Formula One cars for this track. The starting point of our preparatory simulation work was driving lines from back then. Of course quite some progress was also made on that side, and, with the level of detail we can get today, we will most probably just have to do some fine tuning during free practice. We’ve been informed that the tarmac is moderately abrasive, and we don’t expect very hot ambient temperatures. Based on this information, we rate Pirelli’s choice of soft and supersoft as appropriate.”
Paul Hembery, Pirelli motorsport director
“It’s always exciting to go to a new circuit: everyone starts on a level playing field, with the teams and drivers who dial themselves into the new conditions soonest coming out on top. Based on the asphalt samples and track inspections from our engineers, we believe that the two softest compounds in our range will deliver the best compromise between performance and grip on a circuit where the teams are expected to run high downforce. One interesting question mark will be the weather, which is well known for being unpredictable over the circuit. With any new venue, the work done during free practice becomes particularly important, so the teams will be looking to take as much information as possible from the Friday and Saturday sessions in order to assess the behaviour of the tyres on the track with different fuel loads and set-ups. This will be the key to qualifying race strategy. Simulation data suggests that we will see a two-stop race, but this is subject to weather conditions and track evolution, which we will only understand properly after free practice.”
“I have never raced at this track before, but I did drive it last year in a Formula One Show Car run for Red Bull at a Renault World Series event. I remember the race was very exciting. The track is short, but really nice and I am sure it will make for a very interesting race this weekend. It will be an important event for us as part of the Red Bull family and so I hope we will perform well. We have to consider it as a sort of home race for Toro Rosso.”
“This is one of my favourite circuits. I raced here in Formula Renault Alps and had two wins there in 2012. I had a great weekend and really loved the track. Last year I went back to the Red Bull Ring with Formula 3 this time and again I had great memories taking three poles out of three, followed by three second places in the races. It’s my kind of track, with heavy braking points and it is quite a technical track. It has some fast and medium speed corners which I really enjoy. Hopefully the STR9 will go well there. The scenery is beautiful, typical Austrian nature! It’s going to be a big weekend for the Red Bull family, but I will be concentrating on the usual jobs of getting everything sorted and finding the right set-up from first free practice, having the right approach and seeing how it goes. You need to find a good balance there as there are some reasonably long straights. But it’s mainly about high speed corners which is where you find most of the lap time.”
“First, I think it’s great that we’re going back to Austria. Obviously, the Austrian Grand Prix has such a lot of history, the country has had some great drivers and champions in the past, and it’s also currently got a world-class Grand Prix team, so it makes a lot of sense for us to be racing there again.
“Second, I think it’s a great venue, a fantastic location for a Grand Prix. From my previous visits, I remember the clear mountain air, the cool morning temperatures before the sun hit the paddock, and the fast, sweeping corners that still largely exist, and which give this circuit a great feel from the cockpit. I remember the racing line for Turn 1 would lead us far out over the exit kerbs and onto the Tarmac run-off – it was crazy!
“It’ll be interesting to see what has changed in the intervening 10 years – I hear that the track has been left largely unchanged, but that the pits and paddock have been renovated. I think that’s a good call – the track is simple but great. A mini-classic.”
“It’s strange to be able to say it, but, of all the drivers on the F1 grid, I’ve probably got the most recent experience of racing at the Red Bull Ring, because two rounds of the World Series by Renault were held there last summer.
“It’s a very cool place – it’s a circuit where you never really get to rest in the cockpit because the track is always going somewhere; there’s only really one ‘straight’ straight, along the start/finish line, but it’s book-ended by fast corners so the opportunity you get to relax is pretty minimal.
“But that’s what makes it so enjoyable – every lap is a real adrenaline rush because the corners never stop coming. You need to really be on top of the car around here, you want it to be doing exactly what you ask of it, simply because the lap is so physical, the driver is actually doing a lot of work, so he needs his car to take as much of that burden as possible.
“I think this’ll be a great new addition to the calendar – the circuit is a hardcore racetrack, the fans are passionate and the venue is spectacular.”
Eric Boullier, McLaren racing director
“Jenson’s fine fourth place in Canada was more the result of some great team strategy calls and a hungry and opportunistic drive from Jenson himself than an improvement in the overall pace of our car. Kevin drove very well in Montreal, too, although his race was thwarted by traffic and ill luck. Still, it’s a mark of the strength of the organisation that we can achieve results like these at a track where it’s often easy to falter.
“Nonetheless, we’re still not where we need to be. Since the beginning of the season, we’ve stated that we need to bring more downforce to the car. Of course, that’s a constantly moving target – for this weekend, however, we’ll be evaluating a number of short- and long-term performance steps. It’s still too early to feel confident about calling them raceable options – it’s more about evaluating their applicability at the circuit than simply hoping they’ll improve lap-time. Nonetheless, we hope the steps will pave the way for an improvement.
“I’m looking forward to a challenging but successful weekend in Austria. It’s good news to see a new, albeit historic, European venue added to the calendar, and everybody will be hoping that this weekend’s event is a successful one.”
“I always enjoy the challenge of a new circuit. It isn’t new for everyone of course, but I think the starting point will be pretty similar for all of the teams as it’s been such a long time since F1 raced there. Adapting to a new circuit is one of my favourite challenges as a driver, both in terms of working with my engineers to tailor the car to the track and also putting to the test my own ability to get to grips with a new layout and characteristics. I really enjoy this. We’ve done some simulation work and the track looks really good; another interesting challenge for us. I hope we can continue the strong direction we have seen at recent events and get a nice result for the team.”
“I’m really looking forward to my first Austrian Grand Prix and my first experience of Spielberg. So far this season it has been a case of consolidating my experience of tracks I raced at for the first time last year in my debut season, so it’s nice to shake it up a bit with an unknown quantity and level the playing field a bit. From our simulations the track looks fun and fast, so I’m sure I will enjoy getting to grips with it. The car is performing well at the moment so we’ll be looking to make the most of that and ensure a positive weekend for the team.”
John Booth, Marussia team principal
“We’re very excited to begin the next European phase of the season in Austria, which is like a brand new Formula One race for the majority of our team yet, at the same time, is a venue with a fascinating history. A few of our number have experienced the circuit previously, but to all intents and purposes the sport has had to begin its approach to this Grand Prix with a clean sheet of paper. As is the case up and down the field, we will be reliant upon the simulation work we have conducted in recent weeks, together with the proven ability of our young engineers and drivers to read and adapt to the demands of a new circuit once running is underway. Our package has shown great promise during the course of the last few race weekends and it goes without saying that the team will be focusing its efforts on extracting even more of that potential and hopefully underlining our recent trend in keeping the midfield in our sights.”
Mattia Binotto, Scuderia Ferrari engine & electronics deputy director
“After the setback in Canada there is a great desire to make the most of every opportunity at the next event in Austria. Eleven years have passed since the last time this circuit hosted a Formula One Grand Prix. The main characteristics of the track have remained unchanged and therefore it continues as one of the circuits where the engine runs at maximum rpm for a high percentage of the lap. At the time of naturally aspirated engines, the altitude – the circuit is over 600 metres above sea level – made life easier from a reliability point of view, but now with the use of the turbocharger this advantage is cancelled and we can expect a similar challenge to that posed by the Montreal circuit. We worked a lot on the analysis of the problems we experienced. We believe we have identified the causes and have put in place the necessary remedial actions. The free practice sessions will be important to develop all the settings of the power unit in order to obtain the best performance, with a focus on how to use the MGU-K.”
“The Red Bull Ring is a completely new circuit for me. I’ve seen a lot of on-boards of the track and it’ll be a good challenge. It’s quick, some of it really fast, and there’s a couple of big braking zones so, as usual, getting the setup right is going to be crucial. However, until I’ve actually driven there I don’t want to make any predictions about what it’ll be like for us so let’s see when we get on track. Whatever happens, I’m sure it’ll be a good weekend for the fans, and hopefully for us too.
“To be totally honest we would benefit a lot from a good weekend. We were unlucky again in Canada, with both cars having to retire because of reliability issues, something we’ve been focusing on from our side all year, and something Renault have improved dramatically from the early part of the season. Even though our pace in the early part of the Canadian GP was not where it should have been, our simulations have shown that, had we finished, we’d have been closer to the pack than it may have looked at the point where I had to retire, so this weekend it’s important we cross the line. We have to finish the races so we can be there if and when it counts, and that’s one of the main goals this weekend.”
“I’ve never raced in Austria before so it’ll be really interesting to go to a brand new track for me, even though I’m well aware of the history of the circuit. A bit like Monaco, Ronnie Peterson won there so it’ll be another race I go to in his footsteps and after Monaco, where I met his daughter Nina, that means even more to me so, honestly, I can’t wait!
“It’ll also be good to be able to get back in the car after only a few laps of the race in Canada. We’d had a hard weekend until that point anyway, so an early DNF was even more hard to take, but I came straight back to the factory with the boys after the race and everyone just went straight back to work to prepare for the next race.
“So, Austria and what looks like will be a quick track. It looks relatively simple, but, like everywhere we race, getting the balance right all weekend is a real challenge, especially for the downhill right at turn three and then through four and into the quick lefts at five and six. You’ll need a good flow through there, and for the whole lap, so you can build up a rhythm and really push and that’s what I want to do for the whole weekend. It would be good to leave Austria in a positive note – it’s been a while since we had one and with the big efforts everyone’s putting in across the team the whole time, I think it’s something we could do with.”
“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 Formula One 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.”
“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 Formula One. 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.”
Rob Smedley, Williams head of vehicle performance
“Austria represents a new challenge for us and therefore a lot of new opportunity to do well. Formula One 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.”… more to follow