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Austria preview quotes - Sauber, Force India, Williams, Haas & more

28 Jun 2016

The ninth round of the season takes the teams and drivers to scenic Spielberg for one of the most picturesque races on the calendar. Those involved in the Formula 1 Grosser Preis von Osterreich 2016 look ahead to the action…

Sauber

Marcus Ericsson

“I am really looking forward to the next two races in Spielberg and Silverstone. Both of them are at my favourite venues. The Austrian Grand Prix is always a great experience. I like the atmosphere and the track a lot, as it is a fast circuit which I enjoy more and more.”

Felipe Nasr

“The race calendar is still keeping us very busy with the next back-to-back-events. Spielberg has really nice green scenery and its track is quite a fast one. The last two corners before the start and finish line are my favourites, as they are very quick and you have to drive them very precisely.”

Force India

Sergio Perez

"I am still smiling about the podium we scored in Baku. It was an amazing weekend for us. We got the calls right; we executed our race plan perfectly and we finished in the top three on merit. I feel very proud of my team and I think it was one of my most competitive races in Formula One. It wasn't a completely smooth weekend with the gearbox penalty pushing us backwards on the grid, but we were able to overcome the difficulties, which made it an even sweeter result.

"I travel to Austria on a high and determined to deliver another strong result. This race is one of my favourites because the track is nice to drive and I enjoy the atmosphere with the fans camping around the circuit. There are lots of elevation changes and some challenging corners: you cannot make mistakes in any of them or it will cost you a lot of time on the straights. It's also a short lap so the gaps between the cars are always very small and that makes for a very tight grid. 

"We've made a lot of progress with the car since Barcelona and I expect us to be competitive this weekend. There are a few decent overtaking opportunities, especially the big braking zone at turn two, so there should be some good action in the race."

Nico Hulkenberg

"I love racing in Spielberg and it's a great addition to the calendar. The backdrop to the track, with the Alps, is spectacular, and there is an old school vibe to the circuit, which I enjoy. The atmosphere is very relaxed and lots of German fans make the short trip over the border so it almost feels like a home race for me.

"We look strong coming to Austria but we're not taking anything for granted. The track is fun and it has a very nice flow, but it can easily catch you out, especially the last few corners, which are quite technical. I had a great race in Austria last year and have a good feeling about this weekend. The car is working well and we've taken a big step forward since the start of the year so there is the potential for another good result."

Vijay Mallya, team principal

"Seeing our team on the podium for the second time in less than a month makes me incredibly proud. The result in Baku was achieved completely on merit and everybody in the team deserves credit for helping make these results possible. We are experiencing the best run of form in the team's history and we are enjoying the moment.

"There has been a lot of talk about the team switching focus to 2017, but this doesn't mean we won't be strong for the rest of 2016. There is a lot of performance still to be extracted from our current package and I am confident we can put on a good show in the races to come. Having scored two podiums in three races, we've got a taste for success and I would like to see us pick up more silverware before the end of the year.  

"The races come thick and fast during July with four races in the space of a month. The next race in Austria is a venue we enjoy and we expect to be competitive once again. It's a great moment for the team and there is a special atmosphere back at our Silverstone base. We've shown that we can give the leading teams a run for their money and that's a huge motivation for everyone at Force India."

Williams

Valtteri Bottas 

"Austria is where I got my first podium in Formula One, so it's always nice to go back. I like the landscape and the beautiful countryside that surrounds the track because it's similar to my home in Finland. As a place to visit, I really enjoy it. The track itself is always fun to drive. It has a nice flow to it with some big elevation changes and plenty of high-speed corners. It's also pretty good for our car, so it should be an interesting weekend."

Felipe Massa

"Austria is a very small but nice track to drive. I've had some great races there over the previous two years. Last year I was on the podium in third. The year before, we had a pole position and second on the grid. Valtteri finished on the podium and I finished fourth. That shows it's a good track for our car and we are normally very competitive. I hope we have another year like that! There are some good straights for the power unit, mixed with some high-speed corners. As a place, it's somewhere I really enjoy visiting. We normally stay in a hotel which is like an old castle, so that's interesting and different to normal. The people are always really enthusiastic about Formula One, so it's always nice to come here."

Pat Symonds, chief technical officer

"We are in the middle of a phase of high-speed circuits of which Austria is typical, and as such favours the characteristics of the FW38 and the Mercedes power unit. The circuit itself has brought us success in the past, and we have every reason to believe that it will do so again. However, for this third visit here with the hybrid cars we will see a couple of significant differences. The first is the weather, which is predicted to be unsettled throughout Friday and Saturday, with current forecasts showing Sunday as the only potentially dry day. Perhaps more significantly is the fact that the circuit has been completely resurfaced. In the recent European F3 race, teams reported that it was more severe on tyres, which makes the prospect of a dry race following damp practice sessions even more challenging. That being said, we would expect to see a two-stop race in Austria and the selected tyre choices seem to reflect that. Whatever conditions are thrown at us I have every confidence that the team will come through to gather a strong haul of points."

Haas

Romain Grosjean

"It's a funny place to race being in the middle of the mountains. The circuit is very short. The lap time is almost like Monaco. There are some overtaking opportunities. The track, in general, has two very different parts. I quite like the middle sector. There are medium- to high-speed corners. You've got turn one and turn two, which are very similar. Both are 90-degree turns with big braking and long, straight lines. You've then got the second part which is more flowing.

"You start with big braking into turn one, a 90-degree corner. It's very important to go early on the power. There's then a long straight line going up to turn two where you brake very late into the corner, and there's a change of camber. You go flat again after that to turn three. Again, tricky braking there as you're going downhill. Then you've got a double-left corner, medium- to high-speed turns. The last couple of turns are the same as you go up the hill and then down again. It can be pretty tricky, but if you get the grip under the car and a good balance, it can be a lot of fun to drive.

"It was a shame about the race in Baku that we had to have the extra pit stop. I think we could have scored points. We were looking pretty good up until that point. Some of the races we're now going to should be better for us. We still need to work on getting the best out of the tires when it's cold. We have some graining issues as well, but we're still a brand new team and we haven't had many options to try different things. We're going in a good direction even though we haven't scored points in a while."

Esteban Gutierrez

"It's quite unique because it's a little bit old school and has a lot of fast corners, which I enjoy a lot. It's a pretty short circuit – not many corners – so the times are pretty tight, and very competitive in qualifying. It's an extra challenge to make everything as perfect as possible, or as close to perfect as possible.

"I love the two fast corners to the left on the infield, which makes it very interesting, and also the last part when you enter into a very high-speed corner after the backstraight, followed by a banked corner. It's pretty nice to go through there. The wind makes some effects because you have the trees, which are pretty high, so the wind is flowing in some parts of the circuit in a different way than in others, so it makes it a bit more challenging in that way."

Guenther Steiner, team principal

"In Baku I think we fell outside the [tyre temperature] range during the race. The temperature was too high and we had to change the tires. We would rather have that problem than not being able to get the tires to work. One thing to take away from it, though, is that we have learned a lot from the last few events, going from the cold weather in Canada to the hot weather in Baku. My hope is that soon we will have a complete understanding and keep the tyres in the small window they need to work.

"The knowledge from past events will definitely help us out with how we will use the tyres at Austria. The more you run, the more you learn. And no matter what, we will continue to learn at Austria. We will just see where we can gain the most speed. We will have to figure out on Friday how to set our car up best for us to have the best lap time, whether it's taking downforce off to go fast on the straights or putting downforce on to go very fast around the corners. Also, we have to factor in where we can get the tyre in its best (working) range so we don't have a problem like we had in Baku by taking downforce off."

Pirelli

Paul Hembery, motorsport director

“Austria is one of the most picturesque and individual tracks on the championship, which asks a lot from the tyres in terms of all-round mechanical grip and performance, which is why the ultrasoft has been resoundingly favoured here. As a result, we may have a two-stop race this time, even though last year was a one-stopper. However, this venue is always quite unpredictable: we had a safety-car period right at the beginning of the Grand Prix last year, while rain as well as bright sunshine seems to be an equal possibility. The ultrasoft compound should be well-suited to the Red Bull Ring, which means that we will almost certainly see the fastest laps ever of this current circuit configuration this weekend.”

McLaren

Fernando Alonso

“After the unique demands of the Baku City Circuit, we return to a more conventional racetrack in Austria. It’s a much shorter track than Baku, but it’s still very challenging because you cannot afford to make any mistakes. A lap takes less than 70s, which squeezes the grid closer together and there are only a few tenths of a second between rows.

“To be fast you need good traction and efficient aero, which we have. For that reason, I hope we can be more competitive than we were in Baku - and I hope to have a longer race than I did last year, which was over on the opening lap!

“I enjoy the atmosphere at the Red Bull Ring because the fans are passionate and very knowledgeable. They seem to love anything with an engine and the air displays and motorcycle demonstrations over the weekend are all well received.

“There have been some great Austrian drivers to whet people’s appetites, one of whom - Niki Lauda - won a world championship with McLaren. Another former McLaren driver, Gerhard Berger, is a good friend of mine.

“The track isn’t the most technical on the calendar, but it’s still quite demanding because there are some fast corners and you have to be very careful not to make a single mistake for 71 laps. We come prepared and I hope we can have a good weekend.”

Jenson Button

“In many ways, racing in Austria reminds me of my early F1 career. I finished fourth at the track in 2003, and, even then, it had the feeling of a classic Grand Prix circuit. After an 11-year gap when the race wasn’t on the calendar, we returned there in 2014 and it’s thrown up some exciting races.

“There are only nine corners, which means that every input from within the cockpit needs to be extremely precise, as even the slightest mistake can cost a lot of time. There are a couple of overtaking points, so the racing is always close. I’m looking forward to it.

“After three ‘city’ races in Monaco, Montreal and Baku, the Austrian Grand Prix has a very different backdrop. It’s located in a very rural part of Austria, in the heart of the Styrian mountains, with no big cities close by. That gives it an enjoyable, old-school feel.

“After a decent showing in Baku, I’ll be looking to start where I left off next weekend. Like everyone at McLaren-Honda, I’m hungry to score more points; our package is improving race-by-race and I look forward to getting the maximum from it in Austria.”

Eric Boullier, Racing Director

“After two long- haul races on consecutive weekends, Formula One returns to its European heartland. The Austrian Grand Prix is one of the oldest races on the calendar, it’s an event in which McLaren has enjoyed a lot of success, and it’s a great weekend for the fans.

“After returning from the last two races without a top 10 finish, our immediate aim is to get back into the points. In Canada, Fernando finished 11th, and Jenson achieved the same result in Azerbaijan, neither of which track best suited our car’s characteristics, so we’ll be hoping to do a little better in Austria this weekend.

“We also need to address the reliability issues that accounted for one of our cars in each of the last two races. We’ve been worked hard since we got back to Woking to pin-point the problem and try to ensure that there isn’t a recurrence. On a positive note, all four pit stops conducted by our pit crew in Baku were completed in under 3s, which is an incredible effort.

“Away from the track, we’ve been equally busy. Last week we were delighted to announce a new partnership with Michael Kors, one of several new lifestyle brands associated with McLaren, and we had a significant presence at the Goodwood Festival of Speed, where we ran some classic Formula One machinery up the famous hill.

“Now, though, it’s time to focus on the racing again and everyone at McLaren-Honda relishes that challenge.”

Yusuke Hasegawa, Honda R&D Co Ltd Head of F1 Project & Executive Chief Engineer

“The Red Bull Ring is a beautiful technical track, where once you get up the initial uphill section, most of the circuit is a fast downhill with tight corners. It is also one of the shortest races of the year, so once the lights go out, it becomes an intense battle for the drivers and engineers to strategise and adapt quickly throughout the race.

“The track is somewhat power-hungry but we have confirmed that our new turbo's efficiency helped the team in both Montreal and Baku. We hope to manage our ERS to suit the undulating nature of the track, so we can again fight for points in Sunday's race.”

Mercedes

Lewis Hamilton

“Baku started out great but, clearly, it just wasn’t meant to be that weekend. It’s a shame I wasn’t really in the race - but there’s no point talking about ‘ifs’ and ‘buts’. It’s one to put behind me, take the positives in terms points on the board and move on. We’ve got an old school track there in Spielberg. It’s fast, with a good flow to it. It’s tough to overtake but there are places you can try something different so that’s a good challenge. It’s definitely a big advantage starting up front there, though, so I need to get back on it in qualifying and do a better job than last time out. Austria is a beautiful country and I always enjoy my time there, so it would be great to get a win there and tick it off the list. That’s the aim, as always, so let’s see how it goes.”

Nico Rosberg

“Baku was a good weekend for me. I really felt at one with the car, so that’s a big positive looking ahead to the next races. Now we go to Austria, which has been a real strength for us as a team in the past two years. It’ll be tough against the Williams cars in particular, as they’ve pushed us hard there before. But I think our Silver Arrow is still definitely the best package on the grid and I can’t wait to see what it can do in Spielberg. To have two wins from two races at any track is pretty special, so if I could make it three in three that would be awesome. It’s a short run to the first corner there and generally my starts and first corners have been strong this season, so if I can qualify well there’s a good chance of a top result. I’m looking forward to the weekend.”

Toto Wolff, Head of Mercedes-Benz Motorsport

“We didn’t maximise our potential in Baku. At some circuits, you seem to find the sweet spot straight from the beginning - and that track suited our car in terms of demands on the power unit and aerodynamic efficiency. So, we left a little disappointed. But overall there were a lot of positives. Our package is clearly as competitive as ever and we have seen that both drivers are pushing right to the limit - sometimes even beyond it. This is what we want to see from them. It would be easy to get complacent or ease off the pedal after our recent success. But they are pushing themselves, each other and the team forward at every step. We accept that sometimes this will result in tough weekends – but it’s good for all of us and good for the sport. Our priority is to eliminate the small errors which have cost points here and there. We need every weapon at our disposal operating at maximum capacity to fight off the opposition at the front, who are growing in number. Force India have been very strong recently, Williams are always quick in Spielberg and, of course, there is the constant threat from Ferrari and Red Bull - particularly at a home race for the latter. It should be an exciting weekend.”

Paddy Lowe, Executive Director (Technical)

“Spielberg is a very different type of track to the last three, which have all been street or semi-street circuits with mostly slow corners. It’s a permanent facility with plenty of elevation change and a short lap, featuring just nine corners with a range of speeds. The short lap makes for a challenging weekend on the pit wall - particularly during qualifying. With lap times of just over a minute, the circuit can become extremely congested and decisions have to be made very quickly. The track has been completely re-surfaced for this year, which we understand to have made it extremely smooth and therefore likely to work the tyres quite differently. Combined with the softest allocation of compounds available, this means we could well see a pole time in the region of the circuit lap record. As a team we’ve been very strong at this circuit since it returned to the calendar in 2014, so our target is to continue that run. Having said that, we’ve seen significant variations in performance between the teams at different types of track so far this season. It’s been quite unpredictable, so we must ensure we are well prepared.”

Renault

Kevin Magnussen

“I’m particularly looking forward to it. Austria is more my type of country, with the fresh air and mountains. It’s great to be away from a city for a Grand Prix and the circuit itself is really good. It’s small, but it’s high speed. It has a really nice flow and there are good opportunities for overtaking - like into Turn 2. I like it.

“I had a decent race and qualifying there in 2014 so there’s nothing bad I can say about it. I’m headed there in a very positive frame of mind and I can’t wait to get out in action.”

Jolyon Palmer

“I’m looking forward to getting back into the European heartland. Unfortunately we were not that competitive in Baku but we should be more on it in Austria, which is a faster circuit and should suit our car a lot better.

“The Red Bull Ring is quite a simple track, with just seven corners. Putting a good lap together is very important as the lap times are very close and any mistake can really hurt. I like that though, as the driver can make more of a difference. There are some bumpy zones and some overtaking possibilities, such as turn one and turn two. There are some fast corners as well, including the second-last corner that is pretty quick. Then the last corner has a bit of camber and you need to carry the speed through. I raced there in 2014 in GP2 and I drove in FP1 last year. It’s a lot more fun in an F1 car as there are more straight lines and the tyre deg is very low so we can be flat out the whole race.”

Nick Chester, technical director

“It’s an important race for us as the low-speed corner circuit layouts we’ve seen recently haven’t suited us. Austria’s much more in the R.S.16’s comfort zone. We left the Barcelona test feeling quite positive, and since then we’ve added the positive step of the B specification engine, but the circuits we’ve visited subsequently have really caused our progress to falter; that’s something we must address.

“It’s an interesting track. It has a relatively smooth surface so tyre warm-up could be a bit of an issue, and it’s cooler as it’s higher, which also has a small effect on the engine. Average corner speed is a bit higher, and there are not so many corners. It does have some high speed content so you want a car that also has good high speed balance. This higher speed content should suit us; as we’ve seen from the previous three races we do have a weakness in the low-speed corners so it’s good to get away from them!

“Despite a higher speed, it is actually quite heavy on brakes, so you have to be vigilant with brake temperatures and ensure sufficient cooling. We’ve been quite aggressive with our tyre selection, opting for the ultrasoft tyre and we’re predicting that it’s likely to be a one, possibly two stop race.

Fred Vasseur, racing director

“We suffered in the slow corners in Canada and Baku. Austria should be better for a variety of reasons. I think we are making progress as a team and I hope we can move forward race after race on the more traditional circuits towards the level of performance we saw pre-Monaco.”

Red Bull

Daniel Ricciardo

“Spielberg always has a pretty awesome atmosphere, and the setting is pretty amazing - the Austrian backdrop and the countryside is quite beautiful. The circuit is quite short but is also fun. I would love a few more corners but it is a fun track for what it is, quite flowing and fast.

“We haven’t had the results we would like there in the past but I think we’re coming there with our best package yet so hopefully that can put us up into the top five.

“The Austrians are very hospitable and there’s plenty of free schnitzel!”

Max Verstappen

“In Austria you don’t have so many corners but the elevation changes makes it pretty special, and now driving for Red Bull you feel that even more as it’s our home GP so you feel very welcome by the fans. I think this year there are a few Dutch fans who are coming over so I’m looking forward to it.

“It might not be the most ideal circuit for our car in terms of performance but it’s still very enjoyable. Last year was actually a very good race - I qualified seventh and then eventually finished eighth so it wasn’t too bad.

“I’ve spent a lot of time in Austria since I was a kid, either skiing or there for go-karting, and I think it’s a very beautiful country in general, and somewhere I feel quite at home.”


More to follow.