The scenic A1 Ring hosts round six of the FIA Formula One World Championship and the West McLaren Mercedes team arrives in Austria with David Coulthard currently in second place in the Drivers' World Championship with 28 points and Mika Hakkinen...
The scenic A1 Ring hosts round six of the FIA Formula One World Championship and the West McLaren Mercedes team arrives in Austria with David Coulthard currently in second place in the Drivers' World Championship with 28 points and Mika Hakkinen 10th with four points. The West McLaren Mercedes team lies second in the Constructors' World Championship with 32 points.
Following the Spanish Grand Prix 10 days ago, which saw David claim fifth position and Mika retire from the lead on the final lap with mechanical failure, the West McLaren Mercedes team has been testing in Valencia in Spain. Third driver Alexander Wurz, Mika and David secured the best times of the day on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday respectively. On Monday, after the Spanish Grand Prix, Mika and David were busy filming for a Mercedes-Benz safety campaign at the Valencia circuit.
Over the past three years the West McLaren Mercedes team has dominated the Austrian Grand Prix with Mika and David taking two one-two victories, in 1998 and 2000, they also secured all front rows on the grid in 1999 and 2000. Last year David set the current A1 Ring lap record with a time of 1.11:783.
"We proved in Barcelona that the car is quick in race conditions as I was able to pass people on a track that is not famed for its overtaking opportunities, whilst working my way up from the back of the grid into a points position. Now we have to go out in Austria and try to secure the desired result. I have finished in the top six in every race so far this season, I believe I am the only driver to have done so, and I intend to continue this consistency at the A1 Ring."
"Over the past three years, I've had a good record at the A1 Ring with three podium finishes, two as race winner. I enjoy driving at the circuit, which has similarities to a karting track with its short length and tight corners and it also offers numerous chances to overtake. Although I had a unsatisfactory end to the Spanish Grand Prix, I have not lost my belief that I can win the Drivers' World Championship and I am looking forward to getting back to the racing in Austria"
"There is still a long way to go in the World Championship and the West McLaren Mercedes team is in a strong second place. Despite the obvious disappointment of the last race, there were positives to be taken from the team's performance and we demonstrated that we have a good package."
As one of the shortest tracks on the calendar, the A1 Ring, which is situated near the town of Spielberg in the Austrian Alps, is 2.684m / 4.321km in length and has the quickest lap time of all the current Formula One circuits. The track can be described as undulating and incorporates numerous gradient changes.
The A1 Ring has hosted the Austrian Grand Prix since its return to the Championship in 1997 following a 10-year absence. The track was built on the site of the famous Österreichring, incorporating sections of the old track. The first Grand Prix was held in Austria in 1964 at Zeltweg after which there was a gap of five years before the event moved to the Österreichring, where the race remained until 1987.
Lap of the A1 Ring - West McLaren Mercedes third driver, Austrian Alexander
"I always enjoy driving at the A1 Ring, not only as it's my home race but because it has a number of overtaking opportunities due to the three long and fast straights that begin and end with slow corners. Over the race weekend the track changes from being fairly slippery, becoming much quicker, and to maximise performance you must jump the curbs on the tight, slow corners. A lap of the A1 Ring starts with hard acceleration on the short start-finish straight, reaching 190mph / 305kph in seventh gear, before breaking hard in the steep run up to the tight right-hander of Turn One, which is taken at 80mph / 128kph in second gear. When the field has stretched out over the course of the race, this corner provides excellent overtaking opportunities, however at the start of the race, the first and second corners are notorious for incidents. From here you accelerate up to over 180mph / 289kph in seventh gear before climbing up the hill into the blind Remus curve, dropping down to 40mph / 64kph in first gear for the slowest corner on a circuit that is notoriously hard on brakes. On the exit you push hard on the throttle reaching 190mph / 305kph along the back straight braking hard for Turn Three, the sharp right-hander, taken at 55mph / 88kph in second gear, is a challenging braking manoeuvre due to the downhill gradient. This is immediately followed by three sweeping high-speed curves, a mix of right and left-handers. Through the complex at the back of the track you stay above 100mph / 160kph and this is a perfect position for spectators. Coming out of Turn Six you then reach full throttle briefly on the approach into the final two sharp right-hand bends, dropping down to 110mph / 177kph in third gear. Round these two corners the drivers experience up to 4G, the biggest force on the circuit before accelerating out of the last corner, reaching speeds of 190mph / 305kph over the finishing line."