Ferrari hope the Austrian Grand Prix brings better results for both Fernando Alonso and Kimi Raikkonen when the European races of the Formula 1 season resume this weekend. Both Spaniard Alonso and Finn Raikkonen have prior experience of the Red Bull Ring, then called the A1 Ring, between 2001 and 2003.
Alonso finished sixth in Canada last time out, and sits fourth in the championship having been leapfrogged by Daniel Ricciardo’s Red Bull after the Australians victory in Montreal. He knows how costly any kind of mistake will be at the Red Bull Ring, believing the short nature of the track will make lap times in qualifying especially close.
“There are only five or six corners where you can make up time, so I expect lap times to be very close, with one or two tenths making a big difference,” said Alonso. “Therefore we must aim for a perfect lap on Saturday.”
Ferrari are expected to bring a whole host of upgrades to Austria, and the Spaniard hopes some of them work to bring them closer to the front of the field.
“We will try them on Friday free practice and see which ones we can use on Saturday and which need more time,” added Alonso. “I hope we have some good ones!”
Team-mate Raikkonen scored a solitary point for tenth position in Canada two weeks ago but has yet to finish higher than seventh in 2014 and finds himself down in twelfth place in the championship. He is happy the series is returning to Europe and remembers his previous races in Austria where he had a best finish of second for McLaren in 2003, and finished fourth in only his sixth race in F1 for Sauber in 2001.
“First of all I have to say I like racing in Europe,” said Raikkonen. “This is a nice place to come and they seem to have built a lot of new facilities. I have good memories of this circuit and I think the track makes for pretty good racing.
The layout means you can overtake and so I am very happy to be here. I think this circuit should suit us better than Canada, which, along with Bahrain, was the most difficult for us. But at the moment, I am just guessing. We must wait and see what happens.”
Technical Director James Allison is unsure of how the Austrian weekend will play out, but is hopeful that the hard work and dedication shown at the factory will pay dividends with an improved performance around the Red Bull Ring.
“We will have the Soft and Supersoft Pirellis, just as we did in the last two races,” said Allison. “We cannot be sure what to expect but, as at any of the tracks this year, management of the Option in qualifying will be extremely important. You need to ensure you get the tyre prepared for a hot lap in Q2, while being sure the tyre can then cope with the first stint of the race.”
“Every season is dominated by the efforts back at the factory to try to improve the package. If you’re in front you work to stay in front and if you’re not, then your efforts are aimed at moving your way up the grid. Currently, we’re doing our level best across every aspect of the car: mechanically, aerodynamically, electronically, every single component, set up wise, everything we can do to try to improve is being done.
“In recent races we have brought more upgrades than usual to the track and this has improved our position marginally. We just need to keep fighting the same fight, we have upgrade plans race by race. If we do a good job with all of those, it will start to tell and we will start to see Ferrari run more consistently relatively to the opposition. But it’s not an easy fight, and it’s a fight that never ends.”