Austrian GP returns but teams head into the unknown

By Eric Willemsen, AP, 19 June 2014
© Mathias Kniepeiss/Getty Images/Red Bull Racing

Formula One returns to Austria this week for the first time in 11 years.

The Austrian Grand Prix was last held in 2003, when Michael Schumacher triumphed on his way to the sixth of his seven world titles.

Only four drivers have raced on this circuit -- Jenson Button, Kimi Raikkonen, Fernando Alonso and Felipe Massa.

Although the track has been modified only slightly, the 11-year-old race data won't be much help as the series has drastically changed with the introduction of the hybrid cars.

"To be honest, I don't remember anything ... I have no memories," Alonso said. "(It) is a very short circuit, so there are only five or six corners around here where you can make the time, so I expect all the cars to be very close. One or two tenths (in time), you can make a lot of places, so you just need to make a perfect lap."

Teams will rely heavily on their simulations, and need to gather as much data as possible during practice on Friday and Saturday morning, especially on surface characteristics. Those could change between the first and second practices as rain has been forecast for Friday afternoon.

At 4.3 kilometres, the track is one of the shortest on the calendar. However, it has fast straights and features only nine turns, with just the first three to be taken in low gear, and it includes two DRS zones -- after the second and the ninth turn. In these zones, drivers are allowed to alter the angle of their car's rear wing flap to reduce drag while attempting to overtake.

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Edited AP report

 

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