Webber pleased to see F1 return to Austria

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Red Bull driver Mark Webber has expressed his delight over Formula One’s return to Austria next season, even if the Australian driver won’t get a chance to race at the circuit due to his retirement at the end of the current year.

It was confirmed last month that a deal had been reached that would see the sport return to Austria for the first time since 2003 at the Red Bull Ring in Spielberg. As Formula One looks to reach new markets and exotic locations such as Abu Dhabi and Singapore, moving back to a traditional venue such as Austria surprised many, but Webber is pleased to see the move.

“I think it’s absolutely brilliant and I was really happy to see F1 is going back to a super-traditional venue,” Webber explained to Autosport, before going on to criticize the newer tracks on the calendar.

“There have been so many grands prix there in the past. We’ve lost a lot of that with the grands prix we have gone to in the last six or seven years, so it’s great to return to a venue with so much feel-good factor, and such a great location tucked into the mountains.”

The race is set to be held in July next season according to the race promoters, with much of the money behind the race supplied by Red Bull owner Dietrich Mateschitz. For the Austrian team, having a ‘home’ race will be a new-found luxury for the champion team in years to come.

F1 2017 driver review: Kimi Raikkonen

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Kimi Raikkonen

Team: Scuderia Ferrari
Car No.: 7
Races: 20
Wins: 0
Podiums: 7
Best Finish: P2 (Monaco, Hungary)
Pole Positions: 1
Fastest Laps: 2
Points: 205
Laps Led: 40
Championship Position: 4th

While this may have statistically been Kimi Raikkonen’s best campaign since his first year back in F1 in 2012, there is a good case for it being one of his most disappointing to date.

Raikkonen’s continued role at Ferrari has been questioned on a number of occasions, but the Finn looked capable of answering his critics heading into 2017 after impressing through pre-season testing as he appeared to get to grips well with the new-style cars.

But we soon grew accustomed to the same old story: flashes of potential, but otherwise an underwhelming, unsatisfactory campaign that saw Raikkonen be dwarfed by his teammate, Sebastian Vettel.

Raikkonen’s charge to his first pole position for over eight years in Monaco gave hope of a popular win, only for Ferrari to play its strategy in favor of title contender Vettel – why wouldn’t the team do so? – to leave him a disgruntled second.

While Vettel was able to impress at the majority of circuits, Raikkonen only looked strong at tracks that were unquestionably ‘Ferrari’ tracks, such as Hungary and Brazil. Like Vettel, Raikkonen should have racked up a good haul of points in Singapore, only for the start-line crash to sideline both Ferraris before they even reached Turn 1.

Again there is the question of ‘what could have been?’ in Malaysia had it not been for the spark plug issue on the grid, yet in Japan, Raikkonen was nowhere, finishing behind the Mercedes and Red Bulls.

Finishing just five points clear of Daniel Ricciardo despite having a much faster car for the best part of the season and the Red Bull driver’s own reliability issues sums up the disappointment of Raikkonen’s campaign.

He should have been an ally for Vettel in the title race by nicking points of Lewis Hamilton, much as Valtteri Bottas was doing for his Mercedes teammate. Instead, Raikkonen seemed to be tagging along for the best part of this season.

Season High: Pole in Monaco, his first since the 2008 French Grand Prix.

Season Low: Finishing a distant P4 at Spa – a circuit he made his own in the 2000s.