Reports

Austrian F1 Grand Prix

2017 AUSTRIAN GRAND PRIX – SET UP

Austria’s association with Formula 1 dates back to 1964, when the country staged its inaugural Austrian Grand Prix at the temporary Zeltweg Airfield circuit. A permanent home for the race was subsequently established at the Osterreichring (1970-’87), which was shortened and re-profiled by Hermann Tilke in the mid-’90s to create the current Red Bull Ring (nee A1 Ring)

NEED TO KNOW

Race title Formula 1 Grosser Preis Von Osterreich 2017
Circuit name Red Bull Ring
First race 1970

TRAVEL

City Spielberg
Time zone BST +1
Population 5,000
Surprising fact The old town in Graz is a UNESCO World Heritage site, much like the old town in Baku, where the Azerbaijan Grand Prix took place a couple of weeks ago
Local speciality ‘Steirisches Wurzelfleisch’, a pork-pot roast that’s a speciality of Styrian chefs. Served with grated apple, horseradish and caraway potatoes, the pork has a distinctive taste which, we’re told, cannot be found anywhere else…
Weather It’s warm at this time of year. Temperatures have been in the mid-20s this week, but rain is forecast to hit the region at some point over the race weekend

Track

Track length 4.326km / 2.688 miles
2016 pole position Lewis Hamilton - 1:07.922s
2016 winner Lewis Hamilton, 71 laps - 1:27:38.107s
2016 fastest lap Lewis Hamilton - 1:08.411s (lap 67)
Lap record 1:08.337s (Michael Schumacher, 2003 - A1 Ring)
Tyre choice Purple Ultrasoft | Red Supersoft | Yellow Soft
Distance to Turn One 185m / 0.115 miles
Longest straight 868m / 0.539 miles (on the approach to Turn One)
Top speed 310kmh / 192mph (on the approach to Turn One)
Full throttle 66 percent
Brake wear Medium. There are only three significant braking events around the lap
Fuel consumption 1.7kg per lap, which is average
ERS demands High, due to lots of full-deployment
Gear changes 54 per lap / 3834 per race

RACE

Laps 71 laps
Start time 14:00hrs local / 13:00hrs BST
Grid advantage Pole position is situated on the left side of the track, on the racing line. There is a slight grip advantage there, but it’s only a short, uphill dash to Turn One
DRS There are two DRS zones, on the approaches to Turns One and Four
Don't put the kettle on... Lewis Hamilton won last year’s race on a two-stop strategy, but Max Verstappen and Kimi Raikkonen finished second and third by completing the race with one pitstop. Verstappen managed 56 laps on a set of the Soft-compound tyres, so various strategies are possible
Pitlane length/Pitstops 242m / 0.150 miles (Estimated time loss for a pitstop is 20s)
Safety Car The likelihood of a Safety Car is low, largely due to the acres of asphalt run-off giving the drivers room for manoeuvre. However, there was a six-lap Safety Car period in 2015, following a collision at Turn Two between Fernando and Kimi
Watch out for... The Lauda corner, Turn Seven. Its fast, downhill approach challenges the bravery of the drivers and if they carry too much speed at the exit they will understeer over a sausage kerb and risk damaging the car

THE DRIVERS

FERNANDO ALONSO

“I really enjoyed my race in Baku. Our performance in the race not only showed that the foundations of our car package are strong, but also that our operational team – our mechanics, engineers and strategists – are all racers, poised and waiting to take advantage of any situation. Two points may have been a small consolation after an extremely tough weekend, but, as I said at the time, we’ll take it and use it to drive us forwards. 

“And there are reasons to feel more optimistic about our weekend in Austria. It’s a circuit that’s not as dependent on power as some of the recent races, and I think our car will be better suited to the twists and turns of the Spielberg circuit. I think we’ll be able to push hard. 

“We’ve also got a couple of useful steps coming on the car, including – hopefully – Honda’s revised Spec Three power unit, which I tried during Friday practice in Azerbaijan. Every step is important, so I’m looking forward to a positive weekend where we can once again get everything out of the car.”

STOFFEL VANDOORNE

“I’m looking forward to Austria – it’s a great little circuit that usually produces good overtaking, close racing and unexpected results. It should also suit our package a little better than Canada and Baku, where the long straights really don’t play to our strengths. 

“Scoring points in the last race was very good for the whole team’s motivation and morale, and I’m hopeful that we’ll be able to make further progress in Austria. We’ve been bringing upgrades to every race, so a problem-free weekend, at a circuit that doesn’t disadvantage us, would really allow us to gain some momentum. 

“Of course, we’re still some way off where we want to be, but a respectable result in Austria would really give the team an added boost.”

THE MANAGEMENT

ERIC BOULLIER

“After a couple of flyaway races, it’ll be good to get back to Europe and push on with developing our 2017 package. After the excitement and incident of Azerbaijan, I hope that Austria will once again deliver a thrilling race for Formula 1. The circuit itself seems to produce good, close racing, and its configuration should certainly suit our car better than the high speeds and long straights of both Montreal, Baku and the forthcoming race at Silverstone. 

“In fact, we had one of our strongest showings in Austria last year, when Jenson was third in a rain-affected qualifying session, and went on to finish a very competitive sixth. There’s been no let-up in our development push all season, and, while the result in Azerbaijan was nothing to truly celebrate, it was a sign that we are working well and able to capitalise whenever an opportunity presents itself. 

“With a number of improvements planned for the Austrian weekend, not least the proposed new Spec Three power unit upgrade from Honda, I’m hopeful that we’ll be in a position to get amid the other midfield runners and take a useful step forwards.”

YUSUKE HASEGAWA

“The Red Bull Ring is a beautiful, unique circuit surrounded by the Styrian mountains.” 

“It is the track with the shortest lap time on the Formula 1 calendar, and with only nine corners. However, contrary to appearances, it is a demanding track for the drivers with high speed corners and you have to be very careful not to make a single mistake for 71 laps. 

“One of the biggest challenges for us is the high altitude. The circuit is around 700m (2,297 ft) above sea level, and the turbo will therefore have to spin at a much higher rate to produce the same amount of power. The efficiency of deployment will also be affected. Our strategy for the energy management will be key for the race. 

“At the previous round in Azerbaijan, we were able to bank our first points of the year and I think it brought some brightness into our team. We also tested the updated PU, the Spec Three, with Fernando on Friday and we were able to confirm some progress in terms of the power output. We have proceeded with the mapping back at the factory utilising the data we collected, and we are going to bring the Spec Three for both drivers this weekend. 

“I think we have some improvements in our competitiveness and I am looking forward to seeing our performance in Austria. 

“We will not stop our preparation until the last minutes, and I hope we have a good race to reflect our progress.”

2017 AUSTRIAN GRAND PRIX – FREE PRACTICE

“ENCOURAGED THAT WE’RE ON THE FRONT FOOT THIS WEEKEND”

A productive first day in Austria for McLaren Honda, as the drivers got to grips with Honda’s upgraded Spec Three power unit and dialed the MCL32 in to the sweeping turns of the Spielberg track.

Neither driver really ended the day with a satisfactory car balance, and Fernando even indulged in a couple of off-track moments and a biffed floor panel en route to setting the eighth-fastest time of the afternoon.

Stoffel enjoyed one of his best Friday showings of the season, ending FP2 just 0.127s behind Fernando. Given the short length of the track, lap-times look set to be very close this weekend – in FP2 this afternoon, positions seven to 17 were covered by less than one second, so we expect a hard fight in qualifying tomorrow afternoon.

FERNANDO ALONSO

#FA14 MCL32-03
FP1 1:07.510s (+1.535s) 28 laps 9th
FP2 1:06.732s (+1.249s) 27 laps 8th
FP3 1:06.599s (+1.507s) 20 laps 15th

“Everyone was looking for the limit today, so we saw many offs – but tomorrow everyone will calm down.

“Our day was not too bad. We eventually completed our programme, despite missing a little bit of track time in both sessions – this afternoon, I hit a kerb and slightly damaged the floor, so we had to change it.

“However, we were able to collect some valuable information, which we’ll now go through in detail, looking at everything we tested and what we can do with it for tomorrow.

“There are seven or eight drivers all within a few tenths of each other – tomorrow, we’ll find out if we’re in the upper or lower part of this group.

“Finally, the weather looks unstable for both Saturday and Sunday. Unless you’re fighting for the championship, some unexpected rain is always welcome. That can go either way for you, but when you have little to lose it usually works fine…”

STOFFEL VANDOORNE

#SV2 MCL32-02
FP1 1:07.283s (+1.308s) 31 laps 7th
FP2 1:06.859s (+1.376s) 37 laps 12th
FP3 1:06.578s (+1.486s) 18 laps 13th

“I think it’s been a reasonably good Friday for us as a team. We’re competing in a very, very close midfield – I think one second covered around 10 cars in FP2 this afternoon – so it will all come down to details tomorrow if we’re to have a good result in qualifying.

“It’s such a short lap that a couple of hundredths’ difference can make a big difference in terms of grid position. We’ll focus on putting everything together and fine-tune the set-up so we can hopefully carry every ounce of performance through to tomorrow.”

THE MANAGEMENT

ERIC BOULLIER

“It’s been a pretty productive first day here in Austria. Honda has introduced its Spec Three power unit upgrade for both cars, and it seems like a fairly useful step in performance. Taking the lap-times at face value today, we looked reasonably competitive, despite neither Fernando nor Stoffel really feeling that their MCL32s were dialed in properly.

“There’s still a fair amount of work for us to do this evening if we’re to maximise the set-up ahead of qualifying tomorrow, but I feel encouraged that we’re on the front foot and carrying good momentum after the first day of running.”

YUSUKE HASEGAWA

“After the successful running of our Spec Three PU for the first time in Baku two weeks ago, we came to Austria with one apiece for both Fernando and Stoffel.

“I’m pleased to say that we were able to work through our FP1 and FP2 programmes with no issues. During the sessions, both drivers showed decent performance with constant pace, and once again we were able to see the effectiveness of the update in the data.

“It’s difficult to judge our overall competitiveness from today’s practice sessions only. However, we feel confident that we’ll have an opportunity to score some points. Of course, this doesn’t take into account the uncertain factors such as high temperatures and unstable weather, but we’ll concentrate on our preparation to give our drivers competitive cars, and hopefully they will both proceed into Q3 in tomorrow’s qualifying.”

2017 AUSTRIANGRAND PRIX – QUALIFYING

“IN A STRONG POSITION TO SCORE POINTS TOMORROW”

Fernando Alonso and Stoffel Vandoorne line up a solid 12th and 13th respectively for tomorrow’s Austrian Grand Prix after underlining in qualifying the promising pace they’ve thus far shown all weekend.

A position inside the top 10 was a tantalising 0.052s away from Fernando, while Stoffel was just 0.191s adrift.

Fernando’s crew switched him back to Honda’s Spec Two power unit this morning after spotting an issue with his MGU-H last night. Stoffel will remain using his Spec Three unit.

FERNANDO ALONSO

#FA14 MCL32-03
Q1 1:06.158s (13th) Option tyre
Q2 1:05.602s (12th) Option tyre

“A positive Saturday. I feel we did the maximum today – I’m happy with our laps, our result and our performance in general this weekend.

“We had an unexpected change of engine, and I reverted back to the old spec today, so finishing P12 and feeling competitive all through quali was positive news. The team is working very hard to improve our situation: we bring aero updates to every race, we bring new engine specs whenever we can, and we’re definitely moving forwards.

“We still need to improve our reliability, but hopefully we’ll see further signs in the next couple of weeks.

“From 12th place, with a good start or a good strategy, we could be in a position to score points. There’s some possible rain forecast for tomorrow – if that turns out to be correct, it’ll probably open up more opportunities for us. We need to be ready to take them…”

STOFFEL VANDOORNE

#SV2 MCL32-02
Q1 1:06.316s (15th) Option tyre
Q2 1:05.741s (13th) Option tyre

“I think it’s been a pretty good weekend for us so far.

“The practice sessions have gone well and qualifying was more or less what we expected. This afternoon’s times were extremely close: it all came down to a couple of small details – with another couple of tenths, we’d have been into Q3. So today really shows that every improvement we bring to the car is very valuable – it all helps.

“We’re definitely headed in the right direction - every new piece of performance we bring is welcome, but we need to keep pushing.”

THE MANAGEMENT

ERIC BOULLIER

“While starting tomorrow’s grand prix from 12th and 13th feels a little disappointing after the practice pace we’ve shown at times this weekend, it’s probably a fair reflection of where we are. 

“Looking at the timesheets, we were frustratingly close to getting both cars into Q3 this afternoon – and a couple more tenths would have safely moved up us into the top 10. Nevertheless, starting both cars on the fringes of the top 10 gives us an opportunity to move forwards tomorrow.

“It would be fantastic to come away from this weekend with some points – that’s certainly our ambition – and I think we’ve got a realistic chance of achieving that if we can maintain this positive direction in the race tomorrow.”

YUSUKE HASEGAWA

“We came into this weekend with two new Spec Three power units, and we were hopeful that both drivers would be able to break into Q3 in readiness to score some valuable points on Sunday.

“Unfortunately, after yesterday’s FP2 session, we detected an issue with Fernando’s MGU-H and it was necessary to change his PU back to the Spec Two to avoid penalties. Undeterred, Fernando put in a great qualifying performance, so it was disappointing that he was unable to fight for a place in Q3.

“Stoffel ran with the Spec Three today, and it was clear that he feels quite comfortable around this track and, as a result, closed the gap to Fernando. It was a shame he just missed out on the top 10, but encouraging nonetheless.

“Despite this, I think both cars are in a strong position to be able to score some points. We are expecting unstable weather tomorrow, and, as we know, anything can happen in the race, so hopefully we can capitalise on any opportunities that come our way and break into the points.”

2017 AUSTRIAN GRAND PRIX – RACE

"SOMETIMES, THE GUYS BEHIND RISK A BIT TOO MUCH"

Stoffel Vandoorne finished 12th in this afternoon’s Austrian Grand Prix – the sole McLaren Honda to make the finish after Fernando Alonso was shunted heavily from behind at the first corner and was forced to abandon the race on lap one.

All weekend, Stoffel had been pleased with his car’s pace and driveability, but was unable to capitalise on its performance this afternoon after spending much of the race running in dirty air and unable to pass the car in front. He earned a late-race drive-through penalty – for ignoring blue flags – which didn’t affect his overall position.

With a broken floor, Fernando’s car was too heavily damaged to allow him to continue.

FERNANDO ALONSO

#FA14 MCL32-03
Started 12th
Finished DNF (1 lap, accident damage)

"We had a good start again, I was able to benefit from Carlos Sainz and Max Verstappen’s poor getaways, so I was already up to 10th when we arrived at the first corner. But the guys behind me arrived at the turn too quickly, didn’t brake enough and destroyed my race.

“I was hoping for a good race but we were just unlucky – things were out of my hands; I was just a passenger.

“We know it’s always tricky to start from the middle of the pack, but it’s just not necessary to gain an extra meter at the first corner. Sometimes, the guys behind risk things a bit too much.”

STOFFEL VANDOORNE

#SV2 MCL32-02
Started 13th
Finished 12th
Fastest lap 1:08.422s (lap 67) +1.011s (8th)
Pit stops One - lap 31 (3.03s) Option > Prime

“I’m actually a little bit disappointed with 12th – if you look at the pace we had throughout the race, I think points just might have been possible today. And that’s very encouraging.

“Our weekend has generally been quite positive – we had no problems, our pace has been reasonable, and I felt very comfortable with the car. Unfortunately, I was stuck behind some cars and it was impossible to overtake – but that’s how it is for us at the moment.

“I got a penalty, but we had to try something, and I don’t think I really lost a lot in terms of the overall result. It’s a shame we didn’t score points today, but our pace all weekend has been a positive for the whole team.”

THE MANAGEMENT

ERIC BOULLIER

“There are always highs and lows in motor racing. Let’s start by looking at the positives: Stoffel showed very solid pace all weekend, and he and his team looked to have made demonstrable progress in every session. His race was solid, although he couldn’t really show the car’s true potential after spending the entire race running in dirty air. We’ll take his drive-through penalty on the chin – he was pushing at the time to try and have a go at [Jolyon] Palmer, and it was just an unfortunate consequence of that.

“In terms of the negatives, Fernando’s race was one to forget – albeit through no fault of his own. We accept that racing is racing, but these sorts of silly incidents aren’t really acceptable at this level. To be walking away with a substantially damaged car after just one lap is a bitter pill for us to swallow.

“Let’s finally look to the positives again: we’re set for an incredible week in the UK as we head to Silverstone for the British Grand Prix in front of our home crowd. As always, we’ll be doing our very best not to disappoint them.”

YUSUKE HASEGAWA

“After a positive start to our Austrian grand prix weekend, I’m very disappointed with the outcome of the race today.

“Despite having some issues, the atmosphere within the team has been much more positive this weekend, and we felt we were in a strong position to score points. Both drivers qualified well and were starting the race from competitive positions, and we were happy with our set-up.

“Fernando had an incredible start and made up a number of positions off the line, but was forced into an early retirement after being caught up in an incident at Turn One.

“I think Stoffel had the pace to score his first points of the season today and looked comfortable in the car, but he fought with traffic for most of the afternoon and was unable to gain positions.

“We will soon be heading back to the UK for our first home grand prix of the season. It’s one of the highlights of the year, and we are looking forward to this special weekend. We expect to have many fans, colleagues and family there, so we hope that we can show them a good race.”