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Formula 1

The Hills are Alive with the Sound of Formula 1: Austrian Grand Prix Preview

Posted on June 20, 2014 at 12:00 AM

Grosser Preis Von Österreich / Austrian Grand Prix

Race Date: 22 June 2014

Circuit Name: Red Bull Ring, Spielberg

Number of Laps: 71

Circuit Length: 4.326 km

Race Distance: 307.146 km

Lap Record: 1:08.337 – M Schumacher (2003)

Most Wins (Drivers): Alain Prost (3)

Most Wins (Constructors): McLaren (6)

Formula 1 moves back to Europe this weekend with the first Austrian Grand Prix since 2003. The former A1-Ring, re-named the Red Bull Ring, provides a home race for the Austrian Red Bull team and the timing could not be better for Daniel Ricciardo, coming off the back of his stunning first Formula 1 victory a fortnight earlier in Canada. But Mercedes’ Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg will be looking to regain their stranglehold after a less than ideal result in Canada, particularly for Hamilton who suffered his first DNF of the year, while Rosberg scored a respectable second place after losing the race lead due to mechanical issues.

The Austrian Grand Prix was first held in 1963 in an airfield in Spielberg but only lasted two years there after the narrow and bumpy track was deemed too dangerous for racing. In 1970 Formula 1 returned to Austria at Österreichring, a purpose-built permanent race track which hosted the Grand Prix until 1987 when the FIA declared this circuit was also too dangerous. Formula 1 left Austria for ten years until Österreichring was eventually redesigned and modernised, and renamed A1-Ring, hosting Championship races from 1997 to 2003.

The circuit, set amid a beautiful natural landscape of green rolling hills and soaring mountain peaks, is the third shortest on the current calendar, after Monaco and Brazil, and features the fewest turns of any track with a mere nine, but it challenges drivers with its numerous elevation changes. The result is a particularly short and high-speed lap; an uphill climb to Turn 1 dominates the run before a right-hand turn at the second corner, which is tight and can be somewhat tricky at times. Another straight quickly follows but then drivers need to negotiate three slower speed turns before accelerating through the final section of track connected by constricting corners.

The only drivers on the grid that have Formula 1 experience here are Fernando Alonso, Jenson Button, Felipe Massa and Kimi Räikkönen, all having raced here more than ten years ago, while the Red Bull pair of Ricciardo and Sebastian Vettel have had exposure to the track on team filming days. Will the relatively unknown nature of the track level out the playing field? Or will the more experienced drivers have an advantage, being able to utilise their knowledge of the circuit’s characteristics?

What will the revival of the Austrian Grand Prix bring to this year’s Championship title race? Is this the point of the season where teams like Ferrari, McLaren and Williams draw a mark through 2014 and start development for 2015? Can Ricciardo capitalise on his good fortune from Canada and obtain back-to-back wins? Or will his teammate finally launch his title defence before it is too late? At this point it is hard to know what will unfold this weekend, but one thing is certain; the Red Bull Ring is set to deliver an adrenalin rush like no other, with fans treated to non-stop action and some good old fashioned racing.

Categories: Formula 1 Features

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