Returning as a leg of the Formula One World Championship for the first time since 2003, the Austrian Grand Prix is one of the sport's classics. The first race was held back in 1964 but the original track, essentially a converted airfield, proved unpopular and so F1 wouldn’t return until 1970 when the nearby Österreichring was built.
The original Österreichring was undulating and fast, but it was eventually rebuilt as a shorter track and renamed the A1-Ring. F1 cars would race here until 2003 when construction was started to improve the track. Unfortunately, the work stopped and the track remained unusable for several years until Red Bull boss Dietrich Mateschitz, an Austrian himself, bought it and rebuilt it into the Red Bull Ring.
The Red Bull Ring is located in the city of Spielberg, in the Austrian state of Styria. From a technical point of view, the track is similar to the Canadian Grand Prix's Circuit Gilles Villeneuve, albeit slightly less extreme. Fuel consumption is expected to be hard, but manageable; brake wear will be high, but the four long straights will aid cooling, and high top speeds will once again be crucial to success.
The track length is 2.688 miles and drivers will complete 71 laps during this weekend’s race. The surface is also very smooth, which allows Pirelli to bring the two softest tire compounds (Soft and Supersoft) in its range. Most teams are expected to use a two-stop strategy, but this will depend on the weather. Some rain is expected for Friday’s practice but Sunday’s race should be a dry affair.
Michael Schumacher driving for Ferrari was the last winner of the Austrian GP. He won the 2003 race from pole and in the process set the fastest lap of 1:08.337. Perhaps we’ll see the time fall this weekend.
Going into the weekend, Mercedes AMG’s Nico Rosberg leads the 2014 Drivers’ Championship with 140 points. His teammate Lewis Hamilton is second with 118 points, while Red Bull Racing’s Daniel Ricciardo is third with 79 points. In the Constructors’ Championship, Mercedes AMG is the clear leader with 258 points versus the 139 of Red Bull Racing and 87 of Ferrari.