Drivers enthusiastic about return of Austrian GP

1 Comment

After it was announced earlier this week that the Austrian Grand Prix would be returning to the Formula One calendar in 2014, many of the drivers have been quick to welcome its comeback ahead of the race in neighboring Hungary this weekend.

In the drivers’ press conference, Kimi Raikkonen, Paul di Resta and Esteban Gutierrez all praised the decision to bring the race back although Raikkonen was the only driver present who had raced on the circuit in an F1 car back in 2003. However, the Finn explained how he was a fan of the circuit.

“I was there maybe two years ago or something the last time,” Raikkonen explained. “It looks slightly different. The circuit is exactly the same, I think. It’s a nice place to go, I think. It’s not a very difficult circuit because it hasn’t got many corners, but it usually produces very good racing because of the layout of the straights and the tight corners. I’m more than happy to go back there.”

Paul di Resta is looking forward to tackling a new event next season having never raced at the circuit before.

“A new event, yeah. I’ve never been there so I don’t know what to expect but it looks a very good track from what Kimi said.”

Esteban Gutierrez, who was just 11 years old when the last Austrian GP was held, is also looking forward to a fresh challenge.

“It looks interesting, obviously another track, hard to know what to expect but it’s always interesting to go to a new place,” the Mexican driver said.

The Red Bull Ring is expected to welcome F1 in July next season, possibly causing the calendar swell to as many as 22 races.

Teammates James Hinchcliffe and Robert Wickens earn top-fives at Barber

Leave a comment

For the first time this season, Schmidt Peterson Motorsports teammates James Hinchcilffe and Robert Wickens earned top-five finishes in the same race at Barber Motorsports Park in Birmingham, Ala.

Hinchcliffe finished third in the Grand Prix of Alabama; Wickens was one spot behind in fourth.

Wickens had one previous podium at Phoenix with his second-place finish. Hinchcliffe’s best result was a fourth in the season-opener in St Petersburg, Fla., so this marked his first podium of the year.

Both drivers needed a little help from the rain.

As precipitation began to fall in the closing stages of the race, Hinchliffe asked his team on a couple of occasions if it was wet enough to pit for rain tires. He was told twice to stay out and was then called into to the pits at the optimal time.

“Solid weekend for us after coming here before – not a great test,” Hinchcliffe said. “Two cars in the top 10 qualifying; two cars, top five in the race. Pretty proud of these boys, everybody on the Arrow car.”

The rain helped Wickens’ race strategy come together.

“I was having to save a lot of fuel in that second stint,” Wickens said. “So once (Scott) Dixon starting getting close to me I was thinking ‘Oh God, I’m going to actually have to give this one up.’ And then the rain came, so the fuel mileage happened naturally. So, yeah, it saved us a bit.”

And while both were pleased with their top-five finishes, drivers are rarely satisfied unless they are standing on the top step of the podium.

Wickens’ top-five finish was hard-fought. After winning the pole at St Petersburg and starting sixth at Phoenix, he failed to advance to the Fast 6 in back-to-back races at Long Beach and Barber – qualifying 10th both times.

“I was a little gutted that we came out in a big bunch of traffic,” Wickens continued. “It made the race fun, but a little frustrating as well because of people off sequence and whatnot. We lost a lot of track position there. Both of us could have been fighting for higher steps on the podium, but we need to do a little better job in qualifying. “