Austrian GP: McLaren preview

The West McLaren Mercedes team travels to Austria for round six of the FIA Formula One World Championship, which takes place in the foothills of the Styrian Mountains at the scenic A1-Ring. Following the Spanish Grand Prix the West McLaren ...

The West McLaren Mercedes team travels to Austria for round six of the FIA Formula One World Championship, which takes place in the foothills of the Styrian Mountains at the scenic A1-Ring.

Following the Spanish Grand Prix the West McLaren Mercedes team has been testing at the Valencia circuit in Spain. David Coulthard and Kimi Raikkonen joined Third Driver Alex Wurz at the four-day session. Darren Turner was also in attendance at the Ricardo Tormo track on Tuesday.

The 2002 race marks the 25th Anniversary of the inaugural Austrian Grand Prix, which was held in 1964 at Zeltweg. A five-year break followed, with the race returning in 1970 at the famous Österreichring, which was regarded by many as one of the greatest circuits to have graced Formula One. 1987 saw the final race at the epic track, when a mixture of increasing safety concerns and commercial pressures saw the event removed from the calendar. In 1997, after a ten-year break the Austrian Grand Prix returned, located at the A1-Ring, a modified version of the original Österreichring.

The West McLaren Mercedes team has an excellent record at the A1-Ring, having secured a podium finish in every race held at the revised circuit. The team has also claimed two one-two victories since 1997, with Mika Hakkinen and David in 1998 and 2000. At the 2001 Austrian Grand Prix David secured victory, having started from the fourth row on the grid, and Kimi took fourth position.


"It was encouraging to take my second podium finish of the 2002 season at the Spanish Grand Prix, and I am now looking forward to building on the result in Austria, which is also my 130th Grand Prix start. I enjoy driving at the A1-Ring and have a good record there, having won at the track last year and finished second in the previous four races. The A1-Ring is reminiscent of a kart track and is very short in length. It also has the quickest lap time of the current Formula One circuits, the lap record stands at 1m10.843, which I set in 2001."


"The combination of slow corners and fast straights at the A1-Ring requires a compromise in downforce configuration, to optimise set-up for the different challenges the circuit offers. There are a number of good overtaking opportunities at the track, in particular through the first two corners, the Castrol and Remus Kurves. However the tight right of Castrol is often the scene of first corner incidents. I had a solid race in Austria last year, securing fourth, which was my joint highest position of 2001, and I am hoping to improve on that result in this years race."


"The West McLaren Mercedes team has worked hard since the Spanish Grand Prix to continue the process of moving forward and improving our performance levels. We conducted a productive test session last week at Valencia, covering over 1100 miles/1800 kms and we are now looking forward to the challenges of the Austrian Grand Prix."


"The A1-Ring is the circuit where we have seen more overtaking manoeuvres than at any other track in the past few years. The tarmac offers little grip and the slow corners at the end of the fast straights are hard on the brakes. The Austrian Grand Prix is also one of the toughest for the engine with 72 percent of full throttle per lap."

Lap of the A1-Ring - Alex Wurz, West McLaren Mercedes Third Driver

Powering along the start-finish straight at the A1-Ring you reach 190mph / 305kph in seventh gear, before braking hard on the uphill entry to the Castrol Kurve. Changing down through the gears you negotiate the right-hander at 71mph/115kph in second gear, using the curbs on both the apex and the outside, you push hard on the throttle as you exit along the uphill back straight that leads to the Remus Kurve.

At over half a mile in length, this sees you reach 190mph/305kph in seventh gear, before slamming on the brakes for the tight right of Remus, which is taken at 40mph/64kph in first gear, the slowest point on the track. Another straight follows, with speeds reaching 186mph/300kph in sixth gear on the run to the Gösser Kurve hairpin. Braking is quite tricky here as the track drops downhill through the 180-degree right-hander, which is take at 55mph /88kph in second.

This takes you to a long right hand kink, which is easily taken flat out. In fifth gear your arrive at the Niki Lauda Kurve, which is negotiated at 108mph/175kph in fourth. It has a blind entry which makes it difficult to gauge the entry speed. A short burst on the throttle on the exit leads you into a right hander, the Gerhard Berger Kurve, which is taken at 108 mph/175kph in forth gear. It is important to hit the apex, as this curve has only one line with grip and a bump on the entry.

At the exit the track flicks you into a slight right hand kink onto the final straight, which sees you reach 180mph/290kph in seventh gear before arriving at the quickest corner of the track, the Jochen Rindt Kurve, a fourth gear corner which is negotiated at 133mph/214kph. A short burst of power then takes you to the tighter A1 Kurve where you jump hard over the inside curb. The corner is taken at 100mph/160kph, before accelerating out and over the line to start another lap.


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About this article
Series Formula 1
Drivers David Coulthard , Gerhard Berger , Alexander Wurz , Niki Lauda , Jochen Rindt
Teams Mercedes , McLaren