Previous F1 experience might count for very little in Austria

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This weekend’s Austrian Grand Prix is the first since 2003, with the event’s return being brokered by track owner Dietrich Mateschitz (a.k.a Mr. Red Bull). The addition of another central European grand prix to the calendar has been welcomed by most in Formula 1, and it certainly looks set to become a mainstay on the calendar once again.

Of the current drivers in Formula 1, just three raced in the last grand prix here: Fernando Alonso, Kimi Raikkonen and Jenson Button. Felipe Massa is the only other veteran of the track, racing in 2002. He worked as a test driver for Ferrari in 2003.

Therefore, surely their experience will put them at an advantage when racing in Spielberg this weekend?

“I don’t think so,” explained Massa when asked that very question. “It’s better to know the track, but I think now most of the drivers, they learn the track in the simulator as well, so for sure it’s better to learn. It’s also a long time ago.

“I think it will also be learning for us as well. We see tomorrow. I hope everything starts in a good way in free practice one, learning the track and then it shouldn’t be a problem any more.”

Fernando Alonso was equally as dismissive about experience giving him an edge in Austria, saying: “To be honest, I don’t remember anything. We raced in 2001 and 2003 and I have no memories. Too long!”

Instead, it might be the younger generation that actually has the edge. They may not have raced here in Formula 1, but they have in their junior racing series.

Last year, Toro Rosso driver Daniil Kvyat took part in the FIA Formula 3 European Championship round at the Red Bull Ring as a guest driver. He scored pole position for all three races, and came home in second place on each occasion. He’ll have the memories of those races in his mind.

Of course, F3 and F1 are hardly comparable, but it still must count for as much of an advantage as racing a V10 F1 car around here over ten years ago.

A new circuit to contend with is hardly anything new in Formula 1, though. The drivers have had to contend with new, green circuits in recent years such as the Circuit of the Americas, Yas Marina, and Buddh International Circuit, and with the Russian Grand Prix coming up, only getting a first taste of a track in the simulator is not a problem.

The race promises to be a thrilling one, so make sure you tune in on NBCSN across the course of the weekend. Click here to read about our full broadcasting schedule for the Austrian Grand Prix.

Ferrari junior Ilott victorious in Macau F3 qualification race

Theodore Racing
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Ferrari Driver Academy member Callum Ilott will start the 64th Macau Grand Prix from pole position after beating his Formula 3 rivals to victory in Saturday’s qualification race.

Ilott, 19, started third on the grid on Saturday behind pole-sitter Joel Eriksson and McLaren junior Lando Norris, but made a good start to rise to second early on.

Ilott hounded Eriksson for position for much of the race before battling past at Mandarin on Lap 7 as his Swedish rival struggled to keep his tires alive.

With Eriksson unable to respond, Ilott ultimately crossed the line more than seven seconds clear to take his first Macau win and secure pole for Sunday’s main event.

“We started quite strong as I got up to second from third which was not too bad. Then in the middle part of the race I had a good pace and I got past Joel for P1,” Ilott said.

“After that I managed to pull away. It was a good race, even quite relaxing at the end. I’m really happy for the result. Thank you SJM Theodore Racing by Prema, they did a great job and it should be good for tomorrow too.”

Eriksson held on to second ahead of Sergio Sette Camara, who completed the podium ahead of Maximilian Günther in P4.

Ferdinand Habsburg finished fifth ahead of Pedro Piquet, while Norris was left to settle for a lowly P7 after a clutch issue off the line caused him to drop down the order.

You can see full results from the Macau F3 qualifying race here.