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Preview: 2014 Formula 1 Austrian Grand Prix

EVENT COUNTDOWN

ALBERT PARK

12-15 MARCH 2015

Where?

Red Bull Ring, Spielberg

When?

June 20 - 22
Qualifying • Saturday June 21
Race start • Sunday June 22

Laps?

71 x 4.326 km

Track records:

Best record:
McLaren & Ferrari: 3 victories each here
M. Schumacher & Hakkinen: 2 victories each

Lap record:
1:08.337= 227.894 km/h • M. Schumacher (Ferrari) 2003

Best Moments

1975: Vittorio Brambilla takes his one and only Grand Prix victory for March – a feat highlighted by the fact that he was going backwards at the time, spinning just before the finish

1977: a memorable year for Alan Jones as the Australian claims his first Grand Prix victory in a Shadow

1982: Elio de Angelis (Lotus) beats Keke Rosberg (Williams) in one of the closest race finishes ever – just 0.050 seconds separated them across the line

2002: team orders raise their exceedingly ugly head as Rubens Barrichello moves over metres short of victory to let Ferrari teammate Michael Schumacher win

2003: Schumacher wins the final race at this track – coincidentally, we have better news of the seven-time World Champion this week

Man of the Moment

Has to be Dan Ricciardo after that thrilling maiden victory in Montreal! Like most of the current field Dan has never driven at the Red Bull Ring but has done promotional runs for Red Bull and liked what he saw: “It’s a tidy circuit. Not the longest and not many corners, but what is there is good. Turn One is cool as it climbs up the hill. It looks tight but actually isn’t. Turn Two 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.”

Check out the video below of Daniel and Sebastian preview the Red Bull Ring

Big issues

The main one is newness: while the Red Bull Ring is essentially the A1 Ring with new infrastructure, only four of the current crop of 22 drivers have raced there before in F1. Still, several of the others have previous experience in other formulae so it’s not the leap in the dark that Russia will be later in the year. It will be the shortest lap in distance after Monaco and Interlagos but is predicted to be the shortest in time with laps under 70 seconds.

One driver with an issue is Sebastian Vettel. He remembers coming to this track when he was just 13 to have his first crack in a Formula car and says “It was something completely new and it took a while to get used to it.” Ironically, he’s in the same boat now: Red Bull have told the four-time World Champion to lift his game, which is also something he’s not used to, and of course he’s becoming used to finishing behind his new Aussie teammate…

Other points to watch for: altitude and its effects as the Ring is at 600m above sea level in the stunning Styria region of Austria… rises and falls as the track ascends through its first two corners to a high-point between Turns 2-3 before diving back downhill. It’s not quite the wonderful old Oesterreichring but any change in elevation is a welcome change for the drivers.

Quote of the week

Pirelli employ ex-Ferrari and Benetton ace Jean Alesi and the one-time GP winner has his own special memories of this venue: “What’s really nice about Spielberg is the fact that the track always goes up and down, which is great fun for a driver. The tricky aspect of this is that all the major braking areas are uphill, which makes overtaking difficult. I remember something that’s quite funny: in the old days it was always said that the local cows stopped producing milk for a week, because of the noise from the F1 cars. Now that the cars make less noise, let’s hope it’s only a few days...”

Off the record

Vettel to lift his game under Red Bull scrutiny, Ricciardo to be unfazed, one Mercedes to make it to the podium: Rosberg-Vettel-Ricciardo!

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