2014 Austrian Grand Prix – Preview
Round Eight of the 2014 Formula One World Championship brings us to Spielberg for the Austrian Grand Prix.
• Driver / Senior Management Quotes
o Lewis Hamilton
o Nico Rosberg
o Toto Wolff
o Paddy Lowe
• Spielberg: The Inside Line
Driver / Senior Management Quotes
Montreal was a bit of a strange one for me. I felt I had the pace right from the beginning of the weekend, but things just never quite came together. It’s frustrating when these things are out of your hands. The two DNF’s so far this season have not been ideal but that’s racing and there’s a long, long way to go. I caught up before and I can catch up again. It’s going to take another four wins to make the difference so I’m going to do my best to get those results. Right now, I’m just looking ahead to the next race in Austria and another chance to catch up to the lead. I’ve never driven the circuit but I’ve been working on it in the simulator and I’m sure I’ll learn it pretty quickly when we get out on track. It’s always exciting to go to a new venue, so it should be an interesting weekend. I’m feeling good in the car right now and I’ll be pushing flat out to come away with maximum points this time around.
Although it was a really, really tough day, I’m pleased with the result in Montreal. The car was strong throughout the weekend, so to have the problems we experienced in the race was not what we expected. It just goes to show that you can never be too well prepared and our priority has been to make sure the car is bullet-proof for the rest of the season. When you take everything into account, finishing second in that race was quite an achievement for everyone in the team. But we know we cannot afford to slip up, as our rivals are always there to take advantage. I’m looking forward to the next race in Austria and a chance to get back to our winning form once again. Although I’ve driven the circuit before, that was more than ten years ago in F3: back when it was still called the A1 Ring! Of course, it will be very different in a Turbocharged, V6 Hybrid Formula One car, so it’s basically like starting from scratch for everyone on the grid. Personally, I love that kind of challenge, so I’m excited to get back in the car and go for another top result.
Toto Wolff, Head of Mercedes-Benz Motorsport
Canada was a weekend of mixed emotions. On the one side, we had strong pace throughout the weekend. On the other, a small glitch in what has been an extremely reliable package so far this season proved to be extremely detrimental when it really counted on Sunday. It’s something we immediately moved to analyse, understand and rectify to make sure it does not happen again. Nico drove a fantastic race to maintain second position, while it was just a case of extremely bad luck for Lewis who was forced to retire. Obviously, Nico now holds an increased gap at the top of the Championship, but Lewis is a fighter and I have no doubt that he will come back stronger than ever. There is still a long way to go with twelve races remaining – thirteen if you count the double points round – so his challenge is far from over. This race shows how quickly things can change – not just between drivers, but between teams also – so we will be pushing harder than ever to ensure that we do not give away any more valuable points to our rivals.
Paddy Lowe, Executive Director (Technical)
The performance of the car in Canada was once again very strong. Unfortunately, we were unable to fully capitalise on that performance in the race. We saw an extraordinary drive from Nico to salvage second place with malfunctioning machinery, but it was extremely unfortunate for Lewis that we were unable to manage the failure on his car to the same extent. This has once again created a sizeable points deficit for Lewis through no fault of his own. But, of course, we are doing our utmost to give both drivers the opportunity to compete for the Championship on equal terms. We put a significant amount of effort into understanding the problem that occurred in Canada and ensuring that there will be no repeat in Austria. We’re excited by the prospect of a return to Spielberg after many years away and hoping for a return to form results-wise. It’s a short circuit with a lot of braking and high fuel consumption, so it will be another challenging race. The venue is also at high altitude which, owing to the low atmospheric pressure, places a different kind of duty on the Power Unit to what we’ve seen so far. It will be interesting to see how well both we and the competition respond to that.
On the Pit Wall
A ‘New’ Venue
A Formula One Grand Prix hasn’t been held in Austria since 2003. Teams must therefore approach the weekend as if it were a brand new event, as data and statistics from 11 years ago are simply not relevant to today’s racing. New events, or in this case those that can be considered so, provide an interesting challenge. Teams that are most adept at conducting pre-race simulation work and dynamically reacting to live data during the weekend itself will have a significant advantage. Gaps between teams are likely to be larger than average: particularly at the beginning of the weekend. Making a strong start will therefore give teams a good chance of overhauling their immediate rivals.
With only a handful of the current drivers on the grid having competed here in the past, in any racing formula, the relatively unknown nature of the track could prove something of a leveller. Certainly at venues such as Monaco, where existing knowledge of the circuit characteristics is of significant benefit, the more experienced drivers will have an advantage heading into the weekend. Here, however, those drivers who have the most natural feel for car setup will come to the fore.
Approaching a relatively unknown venue such as that seen in Austria requires a significant amount of simulation work. Time spent in the DIL (Driver in the Loop) Simulator is key to providing the most accurate set of data possible, as this is what the team will work from heading into the opening practice sessions. While modern simulation tools are sufficiently accurate to provide a solid baseline, there are some subtleties which cannot be accounted for. Knowledge of how old the tarmac is, how different the grip is at different points around the circuit, how the track surface and balance will change over the course of the weekend and the race itself will only be revealed as running progresses. Teams must therefore glean all of this information during Friday and Saturday. This will likely lead to increased track time during practice sessions.
Similar to the last race in Montreal, this is a high power sensitivity circuit with a low number of corners and multiple straights. This style of track layout also exemplifies fuel efficiency: both characteristics which play to the strengths of the Mercedes-Benz Power Unit. Much the same as in Montreal once more, braking stability is essential. Of the ten corners around the circuit, seven are classed as braking events: three of which are heavy. Turn One is a fantastic corner: comparable in many ways to its counterpart in Austin. The severity of the gradient may not appear too great on television, but in reality it’s a tricky right-hander with a blind turn-in, rising quite sharply uphill. While Turn One in Austin is certainly steeper, this is much more off-camber and much more blind to the driver, making it really quite exciting.
17 June 1904 – 110 Years Ago:
The 90 hp Mercedes racing cars driven by Camille Jenatzy, Baron Pierre de Caters and Hermann Braun take second, third and fifth places respectively in the fifth Gordon Bennett Race, held in the Taunus mountains in Germany.
18 June 2004 – 10 Years Ago:
DaimlerChrysler hands over the first fuel cell powered passenger cars to German customers at Mercedes World on the Salzufer in Berlin. Partners Deutsche Telekom and BEWAG/Vattenfall Europe receive four A-Class F-Cell cars for their fleets. Under the joint Clean Energy Partnership project, the first regular service station for fuel cell cars in Europe commences operation.
21 June 1964 – 50 Years Ago:
Eugen Böhringer and Dieter Glemser win overall victory in the six-hour race at the Nürburgring, driving a Mercedes-Benz 300 SE at an average speed of 127.2 km/h.
1998 Austrian Grand Prix – 16 Years Ago:
Mercedes-Benz power takes its 10th one-two finish in Formula One, courtesy of McLaren Mercedes drivers Mika Häkkinen and David Coulthard.
18 June 1950 – 64 Years Ago:
The Inaugural Belgian Grand Prix is held around the original Spa-Francorchamps circuit, which measured in excess of 14 km.
24 June 1911 – 103 Years Ago:
Juan Manuel Fangio is born. Considered one of the greatest drivers of all time, the Argentine took a total of five Formula One World Championship titles with four different manufacturers. However, there was something very special about his relationship with Mercedes-Benz. Fangio had been working as a dealer for the Stuttgart-based brand in Argentina since 1951 and, following the end of his racing career, became President of Mercedes-Benz Argentina S.A. in 1974.
It was at the French Grand Prix on 4 July 1954 that Mercedes-Benz made its first ever appearance with the latest, all-new incarnation of the legendary Silver Arrows: the W 196 R. As the leading figure in the marque’s campaign to win the Formula One World Championship in the 1954 and 1955 seasons, Fangio formed an almost symbiotic partnership with the W 196 R, taking an emphatic victory at the Reims circuit. The result was all the more significant as, exactly 40 years previously, Christian Lautenschlager drove to victory for Mercedes-Benz in in Lyon.
Despite being aged 43 at the time, making him older than many of the other drivers in the field, this would be far from a fabulous finale to Fangio’s glittering career. Instead, his first win for Mercedes-Benz at the wheel of the W 196 R marked the start of an extraordinary success story. During 1954 and 1955, Fangio lined up on the starting grid for the Mercedes-Benz team at a total of 19 Formula One and touring car races, recording ten wins and a number of other impressive results, including a solo drive to second place at the Mille Miglia in a Mercedes-Benz 300 SLR (W 196 S).