|Red Bull Ring – Spielberg
|306,452 km / 190,461 miles
Maurizio Arrivabene: “It was a very close race, which, once again showed that Ferrari is on the pace. Sebastian was able to fight for the win right to the very last corner, having produced a great drive. It was a shame for Kimi, who already on the opening lap, ran wide at turn 3 while fighting with Ricciardo. If not for that, with the car he had today, he too could have had a good race. The next race at Silverstone is just a few days away and as usual, we will be working flat out to prepare for it.”
Sebastian Vettel: “Today I struggled in the first stint with the first set of tires, the Ultrasofts. I think they were just getting too hot. Then the clouds came in and the balance of the car improved. That’s why I think we were starting to get quicker. It was a shame that we couldn’t win, because we were close. We learnt more about the car in these days and there are many positive aspects regarding this race, but I feel like I could have won today and I didn’t, so I am not entirely happy. At the beginning of the race I was just not quick enough. The pace was there, but the balance wasn’t. I like this place, which has a lot of history and it’s the place where I drove a racing car for the first time, in 2003. It’s a long time ago, but I still have beautiful memories. And now I am already looking forward to going to Silverstone.”
Kimi Raikkonen: “In the first part of the race we had some difficulties with the balance of the car. I struggled a little bit with the first set of tires at the beginning, but then it was getting better and better. The second set was fine: at the beginning of the last stint the car felt very good and we had good speed, but at that point we were too far behind to try to recover. As the tires were getting older we obviously started to go slower, but we were still doing good lap times and the balance was improving. Overall, though, it was not a very easy weekend.”
Vettel extends championship lead, Kimi takes 5th
Spielberg, 9 July –Ferrari is back on the podium thanks to a second place for Seb Vettel, who thus extends his lead over Hamilton to 20 points, while Kimi was fifth at the end of 71 very closely contested laps. All eyes were on the start lights, with Seb on the front row alongside Bottas, with Kimi right behind. The first two tore away while Kimi was immediately in a fight with Ricciardo which saw him go off track: time to get back on track in every sense of the word and that fight began with a nice passing move on Grosjean. The Stewards were investigating a possible jumped start from the poleman. The track surface was boiling hot, almost 50° and that was giving the tyres a harder time than expected. Kimi was fourth, coming under attack from Hamilton, but the Finn was doing well to hold him off. Out in front, nothing much happened until lap 32, when Lewis pitted to take on Ultrasofts. Raikkonen stayed out, while Ricciardo pitted. Then, on lap 34, Seb came in and, as planned, switched to the red-banded tyres. Bottas’ Ultrasofts were done and he pitted on lap 42, coming out on track behind Kimi who, having yet to stop, was in the lead. The Iceman held him off until turn 4 and so it was time for him to come in for new tyres. Seb and Kimi were nibbling away at the gaps to their closest rivals. Vettel posted the race fastest lap on lap 50. Four laps later and Kimi did better, but the backmarkers didn’t help his cause and he repeatedly had to brake on the dirty part of the track. The final stages were very close with traffic typical of a short track like this one, as lap times tumbled and the leaders suffering from blistering on the tyres as did more and more of the pack. In the final two laps, Seb was within DRS distance of Bottas and Hamilton was in the same situation with Ricciardo, but that was the order at the flag, with Vettel coming home second to increase his lead by a further six points in the Drivers’ championship. “Guys, we really tried.” And Kimi brought home a further 10 points to add to the haul.
Seb: I hoped to get pole in the last run. Kimi: happy with starting 3rd
Spielberg, July 8th – It was a very lively and close qualifying session right up to a few minutes to the end, when the Austrian Grand Prix public was deprived of witnessing most drivers’ last runs because of a yellow flag sector. At the end of the qualifying hour, Scuderia Ferrari drivers Seb Vettel and Kimi Raikkonen ended up second and fourth respectively; but since Lewis Hamilton has been handed a penalty for an unscheduled gearbox change, Kimi will start tomorrow’s race from third slot on the grid. Until the end, Seb had hoped for even more: “In the second run I was hoping to jump Bottas and I think I could have done better, but in the end I am pretty happy with my lap; the car is very good. Mercedes is always very quick in qualifying, but today we were close. I think it should be fine tomorrow. It will be a long race and many things can happen. The most important thing is that the car was good in qualifying. We will try to do our race and look forward. For sure it will be tough, but let’s see what we can do”. Team-mate Kimi Raikkonen saw a steady improvement after a not-so-easy start: “The whole weekend had been quite tricky so far and yesterday, for certain reasons, we did not have a very good day. This morning, we basically started from zero. The feeling with the car was getting better and better, but it was not easy to recover from yesterday. The qualifying session was a bit messy, with the traffic and the yellow flags. I’m not very happy overall, but considering how tricky it has been , third place is not bad. It could have been much worse. Later this evening and tomorrow morning we will go through all the different scenarios and we’ll try to pick the best one, depending on what happens in the first lap, how the weather will be and other factors”.
Seb will start from second, with Kimi right behind
Spielberg, 8 July – At the end of a closely contested qualifying session on the Austrian circuit, Sebastian Vettel and Kimi Raikkonen posted the second and fourth fastest times respectively. Seb’s best lap was a 1’04”293 set on the Ultrasoft tyres. His Finnish team-mate was fourth fastest in 1’04”799, but tomorrow Kimi will line up on the third spot on the grid, because Hamilton has a penalty. The drivers only managed one run in Q3 as the yellow flags were brought out on the final lap after Grosjean stopped on track.
Seb fastest, Kimi fourth
Spielberg, 8 July – In the final 60 minutes of free practice prior to this afternoon’s qualifying, Sebastian Vettel set the fastest time of 1:05.092 on the Ultrasoft tyres, which were used by all drivers during the session. Kimi Raikkonen’s best was a 1:05.611, which was good enough for fourth place. During the hour, Scuderia Ferrari tested running with different fuel loads. Austrian Grand Prix qualifying gets underway at 14h00 local time.
Seb (2nd) and Kimi (6th) gear up for Spielberg: “We’ve made some improvements”
Spielberg, July 7 – A short burst of rain between P1 and P2 did not prevent Scuderia Ferrari drivers from going through their planned programme, as the afternoon session stayed dry throughout. Sebastian ended up P2 and Kimi P6 in a session where familiarisation was more crucial than lap times.
“Today we did a lot of laps and learnt a lot about the car,” commented Seb. “We had a good feel with it and that is what we need. So, we’ll see what we can do tomorrow. We understood the problems we had in Baku, but here it’s completely different. The weather and the asphalt temperature are not the same as they were there. Today it is still difficult to judge, but the car is very good and we made some improvements. We proceed step by step; tomorrow we’ll have another free practice session and then we’ll see”.
Kimi had a slightly more troublesome day, but in the end he was not worried about the remainder of the weekend: “It was a very normal day, trying different solutions and seeing how they went. We struggled a bit with some things, but we know what is going on and we should be able to fix it. It was one of those Fridays, not great and not bad either. Obviously it could have been a bit better and straightforward, but it’s only the first day of practice. I don’t think it will be very difficult with tires as long as we do the normal things; it’s a very similar story as any other race. Now we have to go through everything and improve for tomorrow”.
Seb: “Never easy to get it right”. Kimi: “We can be up there”
Spielberg, July 6th –Formula One has returned to Europe, with all the teams preparing for the upcoming Austrian Grand Prix. At Spielberg, the morning sun gave way to clouds and a burst of rain in the afternoon. Scuderia Ferrari drivers Kimi Raikkonen and Sebastian Vettel look ahead to the weekend after the well-publicised events in Azerbaijan.
“At the beginning of this week, I went to Paris to speak with the FIA and talk about what happened. Now we are here to move on and focus on the race. It is never easy to get everything right and to come out on top. I don’t think this has been a terrible week, but then it depends on what happens for the rest of it…”.
Kimi seems to be keen on the 4.3 km Austrian circuit: “I like the layout of this track: it doesn’t have many corners, so the lap time is quite short and everybody is quite close in qualifying. It’s not easy to make predictions for the weekend, even if, in the past this track has been quite good for us but obviously, with the new rule changes, you never know. I think that our car should be fine, we have been pretty strong everywhere so far. We are quite confident that wherever we go and in whatever conditions we can be up there. The end result obviously depends on many things, we’ll see how it goes but we should be ok”.
Less than 70 seconds to do a lap, half of it at full throttle: that’s Spielberg
In the beginning there was the airport called Zeltweg, at the bottom of a valley, featuring a notoriously atrocious track surface. That’s where Formula 1 came for its first official Austrian GP back in 1964. It turned out to be the first and, unfortunately, the only win for Lorenzo Bandini, driving for Scuderia Ferrari. Then came the Osterreichring, a permanent track featuring some frightening high speed corners. It staged the race up until that difficult 1987 event. It would be ten years before F1 returned to the Styrian valley on a significantly shorter layout, which is pretty much the one in use today. The Austrian race returned to the calendar in 2014, along with the hybrid cars. A favourite with the fans because of the atmosphere and the great view, the Zeltweg track, or more correctly, Spielberg, is one of the shortest on the calendar in terms of distance and in time taken for a lap, half of which is spent at full throttle. There are nine corners in total, a mix of hard braking and fast curves, with endless changes of gradient. For this race, the tyres will be the softest available: Soft, Supersoft and Ultrasoft. That’s as long as the rain tyres are not required and, at the moment, the weather forecast for the weekend is still uncertain…