SPIELBERG, Austria, Thursday, May 10, 2001 - The Alpine backdrop of the Tyrolean Alps provides the setting for round six of 17 in this year's FIA Formula One World Championship. With three wins and a second place in his Ferrari so far this ...
SPIELBERG, Austria, Thursday, May 10, 2001 - The Alpine backdrop of the Tyrolean Alps provides the setting for round six of 17 in this year's FIA Formula One World Championship.
With three wins and a second place in his Ferrari so far this season, Michael Schumacher leads the standings with 36 points. David Coulthard, who has scored points in all five races so far with a win, two seconds, a third and a fifth in his West McLaren-Mercedes, is second with 28 points. Neither driver has ever won the Austrian Grand Prix.
"I've never managed to win in Austria," said Schumacher, who has 47 career victories, "but that doesn't mean I don't like the event. I enjoy the Austrian weekend a great deal, mainly because I love the setting, which is very beautiful with all the greenery and nature and the impressive mountains. The other reason I am looking forward to it is to try and end my negative record here."
Coulthard has finished second in Austria for the last four consecutive years.
"That's a pretty consistent record," he said, "so to finish on the podium again is the goal. And, like every driver, my goal is to try and win."
While he is fighting with Schumacher for the championship, Coulthard says he doesn't bother to try and analyze the reasons why Ferrari is competitive.
"I am sure that someone in our team must look at statistics and figures and all the rest of it," Coulthard said, "but it is not something I am not actively involved with. I just concentrate on trying to get the best out of the car every weekend and reflect on it when you go back home on Sunday night."
Coulthard's teammate, Mika Hakkinen, is a two-time winner in Austria. With just a sixth and a fourth place finish this season, Hakkinen is 10th in the standings with four points. He nearly won in Spain two weeks ago only to have his clutch fail just half a lap from the finish line. Hakkinen hopes to turn around his season this weekend.
"That was my plan, obviously, " he said, "but I have really bad flu at the moment. It's not a very good feeling to start this weekend with, so I just have to try to do my maximum and hopefully (win and) get 10 points. It's definitely going to be really, really hard. Although I had an unsatisfactory end to the Spanish Grand Prix, I have not lost my belief that I can win the Drivers World Championship."
After failing to finish in the first four races, Juan Pablo Montoya finished second in Spain in his Williams-BMW. Colombia's President Andres Pastrana telephoned Montoya to congratulate after the Spanish Grand Prix. "It made me feel proud because you know you are doing something good, apart for myself and the team, for the country," Montoya said.
Jacques Villeneuve finished third in Spain in his Lucky Strike British American Racing-Honda. He says that its first podium finish has boosted the team's morale.
"It was very important," Villeneuve said when he arrived in Austria, "because last year many times we were close to a podium, and somehow it didn't work. This podium has lifted a weight off everybody's shoulders in the team. Now it is going to be easier for everybody to work in a positive way, so that it great."
The race will be 71 laps around the 2.688-mile (4.326-km), nine-turn A1-Ring. The track is also called Zeltweg, which is a nearby town. Originally known as the Osterreichring, the track played host to the Austrian Grand Prix from 1970-87. After being shortened and extensively upgraded for safety reasons, the track, now called the A1-Ring, reopened in 1997. Former Indianapolis 500 winner Jacques Villeneuve won the first race on the new track.