Formula 1 | Austria Grand Prix 2017 Preview
By James Malleson
• Austria hosts the ninth race of the season
• Lewis Hamilton looks to bounce back from previous race
SPIELBERG, AUSTRIA – Lewis Hamilton and Sebastian Vettel look to commence battle once again, on the shortest track on the calendar.
Lewis Hamilton’s Past Record
Lewis Hamilton has a good record when it comes to racing in Austria where he has one win to his name coupled with two-second place finishes.
It was last year when Hamilton won in Austria for the first time, whilst driving for Mercedes. The Brit started the race from pole position. He got off to a good start and by lap 14 he continued his dominance on the field, with Kimi Raikkonen and Nico Rosberg following behind. However, it was not all plain sailing as on lap 22 Hamilton decided to pit for a change of tyres, but there he hit trouble, and slow change meant he came out behind rival Rosberg. A mistake from Rosberg on lap 39 led to Hamilton closing upon him. A dramatic finish to the race saw Rosberg’s car clipped and damaged, meaning Hamilton could go ahead and win the race.
The Brit will be looking to continue where he left off from last year, but I am sure Sebastian Vettel will have something to say about that.
Sebastian Vettel’s Past Record
Vettel has not fared so well in Austria, where he has retired twice in his three seasons of racing here.
His first retirement came in 2014 whilst racing for Red Bull. After the completion of just one lap, his car had, technical problems which caused him to lose drive. However, he was eventually able to continue albeit a lap down on the rest of the field. However, it was to no avail as he had to retire halfway through the race after his car had taken damage to the front wing.
His second retirement occurred last year where he started off well enough and after a quarter of the race completed he had moved up to third position behind his team-mate Raikkonen. However shortly after the German retired after his right rear tyre exploded causing him to collide into the barriers.
Vettel will be hoping for better luck this time around as he looks to improve on his grip of the 2017 title.
Good Traction is the Key to Success
The Red Bull Ring is the shortest track on the calendar and having good traction is going to be vital if any one drive is to win.
Warming up the tyres during practices and qualifying is going to be important to help with the traction and getting a good grip on the surface once the race commences. In addition, the short length of the track gives limited time for the tyres to warm up and does not make it easy when trying to bring the front tyres up to the correct temperature.
Although the surface of the track has decent mechanical grip, it is a dangerous circuit when trying to turn corners and whilst it has many chances for overtakes, the sharp corners in certain places could cause skidding if drivers’ are not aware of their postioning. Therefore, staying on the track could be tricky but if the drivers can, then that will put them on track to compete well.
A Short Circuit – but not Short on Places to Overtake
This medium downforce circuit, with only nine corners to navigate, has plenty of opportunities for drivers to overtake.
It features two DRS zones in total which allows for a reduction in drag force at certain points, enabling higher speeds to be generated. The first one is situated between a very sharp Turn Three and Turn Four and is a considerable length to make overtaking easy. The next one is situated at the end of each lap between Turn Ten and One.
In addition there are other places to overtake, with the course providing various track parts with straights. The first one is between Turn One, Two and Three and this section allows drivers to build up speed and momentum in order to give them the best chance to overtake. Another straight is situated between Turn Eight and Nine, after appearing from a wide Turn Seven.
It is not a large track, but if judged well, could offer large opportunities to overtake.
Facts for Thought
• The track length is 4.318 Km
• The total number of laps is 71
• The first Austrian Grand Prix was held in 1964
• Spielberg has a population of 5,000 people
The Austria Grand Prix starts on 9th July at 1pm BST.
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