A GP within a GP, even on the logistics front
As far as race fans are concerned, a race weekend ends on a Sunday night and another one starts on a Thursday morning. But for a Formula 1 team, the race never ends. Last Sunday night, the Scuderia Ferrari trucks set off on the tortuous roads that run down the hill from Paul Ricard, jammed with traffic, to get back to Maranello in time for the race cars and equipment to be overhauled.
Meanwhile, part of the team headed straight for Austria to set up the garage and paddock facilities. The rest of the crew will arrive in Spielberg over the coming days. It’s now the height of summer and the race in Styria has always been one of the classic events of the holiday season, with the odd exception such as the ’97 race, which was held in late September. It’s yet another reason to expect a good crowd, in an area famous for its natural beauty and the welcome it provides.
There’s enough accommodation in the area, but it’s mainly guest houses, so that the F1 folk are scattered all around the villages in the area. The track has been modified over the years: the original one made use of the local airfield and was only 3.2 km in length and all it had in common with the current format was the very short lap time. Last year in qualifying, cars were lapping in around the 1m 4s mark and one could speculate that this year, with the Soft, Supersoft and Ultrasoft compounds on offer, we will see them crack the one minute barrier: weather permitting of course because at the moment the forecast says there’s a chance of thunderstorms, at least up until Friday.
Kimi and Seb enjoy both the track and the atmosphere
It was a rainy morning which welcomed the Formula One teams ahead of the Austrian Grand Prix, Just a few days after the French event. Scuderia Ferrari drivers Kimi Raikkonen and Sebastian Vettel are all geared up for the challenge to come.
“It’s a great feeling to be back in Austria”, says Kimi. “This is a very nice track , I have always enjoyed coming here, the atmosphere is great and the people have always been very welcoming to us. This circuit looks easy on paper, but it’s still difficult to go fast and put a good lap together. Usually, we’re all very close here, because the lap is quite a short one and in qualifying you seem to be fighting everyone and the traffic because the smallest delay can make a big difference on lap time. It’s impossible to know now how our car will perform on this track; I don’t see any reason why we shouldn’t be strong, but how strong we’ll have to wait to find out. The end result depends also on small things, we need to make everything right and tidy up a few things on Saturday to make our life a little bit easier on Sunday. Hopefully we’ll have a smooth weekend and be up there…”.
Seb took some time to reflect on the events of the last race: “If we consider the whole weekend, France was a much better one than Barcelona, and there are similarities between the two circuits in terms of asphalt and because we had the same tyres. Our pace was good, but there’s no point now in looking back too much, it was what it was. As for Austria, I always enjoy coming down here, both in winter for skiing and now for the Grand Prix. Our car is strong and this track should suit us in principle, although now it’s impossible to predict how competitive we will be, with the weather and all the variables of a racing weekend”.