Austrian GP Preview

Austrian Grand Prix 2017

Hear from McLaren Honda drivers Fernando Alonso and Stoffel Vandoorne as they prepare for Round Nine at the Red Bull Ring.

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.”

Circuit info 

Circuit name: Red Bull Ring
First race: 1970

Previous winners

 2016Lewis Hamilton
 2015Nico Rosberg 
 2014Nico Rosberg

History lesson

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).

What makes the race special?

It has a picture-postcard setting in the magnificent Styrian Mountains and, although the track is more of a modest test than the Osterreichring, it has its challenges. It’s also fast: last year’s pole position was set at an average speed of 229km/h (142mph).

Bet you never knew...

The Red Bull Ring is the shortest lap of the year in terms of time. Lewis Hamilton’s pole lap in 2016 took just 67.922s, which was 6s shorter than Daniel Ricciardo’s pole at Monaco two months earlier.

Crazy moment

Lap one of the 2015 race, when Fernando Alonso and Kimi Raikkonen collided at Turn Two. Raikkonen’s car ended up on top of Alonso’s MP4-30, but neither driver was harmed.

What we love

The passion of the Austrian fans. They are very knowledgeable about F1 and appreciate homegrown talent. Both Austrian world champions – Niki Lauda and Jochen Rindt – have corners named after them at the track.

McLaren memory

The team has enjoyed six wins at the Austrian Grand Prix, most recently in 2001. Of those victories, few were more popular with the crowd than Niki Lauda’s in 1984. He won the race at an average speed of 223km/h (139mph), coming home 23s ahead of Nelson Piquet’s Brabham.

Sporting legacy

Four Austrians have stood on an F1 podium: Jochen Rindt, Niki Lauda, Gerhard Berger and Alex Wurz. Rindt and Lauda are the country’s only world champions – Rindt winning in 1970, Lauda in 1975, ’77 and ’84 – and Berger is the only other Austrian to have won races. Lauda, Berger and Wurz all raced for McLaren during their careers.

Don’t forget

The Red Bull Ring has an elevation change of 65 metres from its highest to lowest points.