Panasonic Toyota Racing arrives in Austria for round six of the 2002 Formula 1 World Championship encouraged by a successful three-day test at Estoril last week. Test driver Ryan Briscoe completed an incredible 274 laps of the Portuguese track...
Panasonic Toyota Racing arrives in Austria for round six of the 2002 Formula 1 World Championship encouraged by a successful three-day test at Estoril last week. Test driver Ryan Briscoe completed an incredible 274 laps of the Portuguese track while trying some engine and chassis adjustments that will be used at the A1-Ring next weekend.
Mika Salo and Allan McNish have had time off since the Spanish Grand Prix two weeks' ago. Mika has been at home in Lugano, Switzerland, while Allan has squeezed in a quick visit to his parents' home to Dumfries in Scotland.
The A1-Ring is a medium downforce circuit, comprising mainly slow corners and long straights, which places an emphasis on horsepower. Panasonic Toyota Racing is familiar with the track, having tested there last year with both drivers and its TF101 test car.
The 4.326-kilometre track is situated in the Spielberg region of Austria, at what was the site of the ultra-fast Osterreichring, which last staged a grand prix in 1987. After a 10-year absence from the F1 calendar, the Austrian GP returned in 1997 at the new A1-Ring and it has been a regular fixture ever since.
"I was delighted to get both cars to the finish in the last race at Barcelona and my main aim in Austria is for us to repeat that success. A top 10 finish would even be a bonus for us. We now have to maintain this level of reliability and make sure we finish the races - that is the only way to improve."
"I like Austria because it's a very beautiful country and reminds me of my second home country Switzerland. It's also where I made my Ferrari debut in 1999, which is another reason why it sticks in the mind. I think the A1-Ring should suit our car pretty well because it is not a high downforce track and it is also very smooth. The track is quite slippery early in the weekend, so we will have to be patient with set-up and wait for the rubber to go down."
"I don't think that the A1-Ring is the most challenging track that we race on during the year, but it is one that punishes mistakes at the exit of corners because the straights are long. There is a good racing heritage in Austria, so I'm expecting the fans to be enthusiastic. Such is the layout of the track that it looks like a very good racing circuit, so I'm looking forward to a few good battles on race day."
Mika on the A1-Ring:
"Sadly, the A1-Ring is nothing like its predecessor, the Osterreichring. That was a mega track, which really sorted the men from the boys. The new track is quite slow, but lacks the challenge of somewhere like Monaco. In terms of time, this is the shortest lap of the year, so the grid is always very tight and it makes qualifying quite tense. You have to use the kerbs to be quick, which can interrupt your rhythm, so you have to keep focused here. You are also on full throttle a lot, so horsepower is very important. I think that we will be alright in that department, although you always want more!"