Austrian GP: Sauber preview

Many drivers like this track and for the team Sauber Petronas it feels like a third home race because a lot of German fans tend to travel there. Willy Rampf (Technical Director): "You need very good braking stability and traction at the A1- ...

Many drivers like this track and for the team Sauber Petronas it feels like a third home race because a lot of German fans tend to travel there.

Willy Rampf (Technical Director):

"You need very good braking stability and traction at the A1- Ring, so a sound mechanical set-up is an essential platform for the weekend. It can be tricky because of the smoothness of its surface. All of the teams already have good set-ups from previous years. Still, the track conditions change a lot during the race weekend and it is important to remember what effect the track changes had on the car previously. Generally you already have a good idea of this and can react accordingly."

"In the past you needed high downforce in qualifying, but less downforce in the race because of the long, curving drag from Turn One down to the hairpin, Remus, at Turn Two. The A1-Ring offers good overtaking opportunities and it is very important to maximise your top speed here to give the drivers an edge for overtaking as they approach the braking area."

"With the revised regulations for 2003 we will no longer have that option so we will have to find a compromise because of course you have to race with the same set-up you qualified. It will still be very important to overtake in the race, so we'll have to trade off some qualifying downforce as that will be the more effective option."

Nick Heidfeld (55 GPs, 1 point 2003):

"If you look at the map the A1-Ring looks quite easy; there aren't any chicanes and the corners are open, so overtaking can be good. But the circuit itself has a very low grip surface, which is very smooth. It has suited our cars well for the past two years. I qualified sixth in 2001 and fifth in 2002, my best results. I don't know what to expect from the C22 this year, but I hope that the trend continues and that the circuit still favours our car!"

"The A1-Ring is an enjoyable circuit to drive, but it isn't as easy as it may look, especially the last corner. The inside edge of the track drops down there, just where you want to make your apex, so it's hard to get a good balance through there. It's a matter of seeing how much kerb you are able to take without making the car too nervous. It's also good to have a bit of oversteer there, but not too much."

"Last year, of course, I had the biggest shunt of my career at the A1-Ring, and it took me a couple of days to get over it. But I like Austria very much - the atmosphere, the nature of the place, and the fans. They are always very friendly. For me it's a little bit like having a third home race, as there are always lots of German fans."

Heinz-Harald Frentzen (146 GPs, 7 points 2003):

"I enjoy Austria very much, it's a very nice place. It's always a great pleasure to go there. The A1-Ring is quite a tough track to balance the car for, partly because it has that unique surface. What tends to happen is that you start a session and as more rubber goes down you don't do anything to the car but its characteristics change. That's why sometimes in the race there you can beat your qualifying time. All the time you have to be careful to identify changes as coming from the track, and not to keep trying to change the car set-up to over-compensate, only to find the track changes again."

"It's also pretty tough on engines and brakes, and it's difficult to see the apex in the third corner because it has a blind approach. You have to aim and commit before you get there."

"It's a track that gives the driver a pretty good idea of where he is in the race; there are big screens in Turns 1 and 3 so you can keep an eye on your progress. You can also see accidents and be ready to take necessary avoidance."

Just before Nick Heidfeld will start the engine at the A1-Ring he is going to attend a golf charity tournament at the Golfclub Murtal in Spielberg on Thursday. The Grand Prix Golf Trophy was founded by the Managing Director of the CAM, Christof Ammann, and the CEO of the A1-Ring, Hans Geist, and supports the Spine and Brain Foundation of the Formula One Medical Delegate, Prof. Sid Watkins.

-sauber-

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About this article
Series Formula 1
Drivers Heinz-Harald Frentzen , Nick Heidfeld
Teams Sauber