With barely a moment to catch our breath, Formula One's packed July schedule continues for Williams Racing as we head to the mountains of Styria for the 2022 Austrian Grand Prix.
While Silverstone had F1 racing at one of the calendar's longest circuits, it's all change for Austria, with the Red Bull Ring being one of the shortest in the championship but every bit as fast and thrilling as our recent home-soil adventures.
Spielberg's Red Bull Ring has undergone plenty of change since it first hosted Formula One as the Österreichring in 1970, but it's always been a high-speed rollercoaster of a track.
The current layout is a ten-turn thrill ride over 4.318km that Formula One cars tackle in under 70 seconds to make it the shortest lap time in the sport right now, even though the likes of Monaco and Brazil have shorter lap distances.
Famous F1 circuit designer Hermann Tilke revised the original, somewhat dangerous layout in the 90s after F1 stopped visiting following the 1987 Grand Prix. Tilke took out a mile of the circuit in the redesign and added three tighter right-hand corners to help reduce speeds.
Although the racing was safer, and the new corner additions added terrific overtaking opportunities, F1 only visited what had become the A1-Ring for seven seasons between 1997 and 2003 before a second hiatus.
It was only thanks to the backing of an Austrian F1 team (who apparently are also involved in energy drinks...) that turned the Austrian Grand Prix at the newly named and impressively renovated Red Bull Ring into a permanent F1 fixture from 2014 onward.
"F1 cars tackle the Red Bull Ring in under 70 seconds, making it the shortest lap time in the sport right now."
What are the drivers saying?
After reaching Q3 in Silverstone, Nicholas Latifi is feeling optimistic about being able to build on the progress shown last week, especially at the circuit where he made his Formula One debut back in 2020, saying: “I’m looking forward to getting going in Austria with the second Sprint race weekend of the year.
“I’m a fan of these weekends as it’s exciting to change up the normal format. We’re carrying some good momentum after a positive weekend at Silverstone.
“I’m looking to hit the ground running and as always that FP1 session will be crucial. We have plenty of data around that track from before, so I expect us to be in good shape.
“Hopefully we can take advantage of the difference in format that the Sprint event produces and have a solid weekend.”
"We’re carrying some good momentum after a positive weekend at Silverstone."
Alex Albon is looking forward to bouncing back after last week's first-lap collision. With only a little amount of data gathered on the updates debuted in Silverstone, Albono is ready to take on the Styrian circuit.
“It’s obviously disappointing we didn’t get to properly test the new upgrade last week,” our No23 explained, continuing: “However, looking forward to Austria, I know the team has been working hard to make the repairs, so we’ll be ready to test it further and gather more data.
“With the Sprint race it does limit our practice time, but it will be good to get back out there and see what we can do with the car.”
From the Pit Wall
Although familiar with the Red Bull Ring, there is an additional challenge for teams this weekend as they're losing a Free Practice session on Friday and have to consider Saturday's Sprint when prepping for this weekend. This is something Dave Robson, Head of Vehicle Performance explains:
“Having damaged Alex’s car at the race start last weekend, coming straight into a Sprint Event is logistically difficult.
“However, we have been able to repair or replace much of Alex’s car such that we can continue to understand the updates during FP1 on Friday.
“There is very little time to change the car before it passes into Parc Ferme at a Sprint event and so we will need to be bold going into FP1 if we are to continue to push the performance.
“The layout of the circuit is more challenging than is perhaps apparent from the track map, with the tight low-speed corners contrasting heavily with the faster infield corners at T6/7.
“The significant elevation changes add to the challenge and make some of the braking zones tricky.
“Finally, the kerbs are very tempting for the drivers but can damage the cars if they are abused.
“The weather forecast is for relatively cool conditions, which should make setting the cooling level ahead of qualifying more straightforward than it might have been in more usual hot conditions.
“Even so, setting the cooling level for the race on Friday afternoon remains a tricky risk-reward game, which all teams must face.
“Although Alex was involved in a big crash last weekend, he was protected by the car and is fully fit to race this weekend.
“Nicholas had a strong weekend in Silverstone and will be looking to build on that experience and push the baseline FW44 to its limits before he gets to try the updated package in France.”
"Alex is fully fit to race this weekend."
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Did you know?
2022 will be the first time in three years that the Red Bull Ring will only host one Grand Prix event. 2020 and 2021 saw the circuit be the venue for the Austrian GP and Styrian GP as F1 navigated the global pandemic.
Of all the tracks that Formula One will visit in 2022, the Red Bull Ring will have the fastest dry lap qualifying time. Valtteri Bottas took pole position in 2020 with a rapid 1:02.939.
Formula One held the 1964 Austrian Grand Prix close to Spielberg – the small Austrian city where the Red Bull Ring is located – at the nearby military Zeltweg Airfield. Five non-championship F1 events also took place at the four-corner two-mile track before the Österreichring took over.
Williams Racing bookended the track's first absence from Formula One with two of our three Austrian Grand Prix victories. Nigel Mansell won in 1987 with the FW11B, and Jacques Villeneuve took the victory ten years later in his FW19.
Before 2017, the track officially only had nine corners. However, the FIA recognised the slight kink between the first two right-hand turns ahead of the 2017 Austrian Grand Prix. Hence, the curve became Turn 2, subsequently changing every corner number on track aside from Turn 1.
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