Anything other than a duel between Mercedes and Ferrari at the Grand Prix of Austria would be a big surprise. With 56 percent of full throttle and two long straight lines, Spielberg is a power line of formula 1.
Many rumors and questions mainly concern Ferrari. Before Baku, the FIA sent a second directive to the teams that oil should not be mixed in petrol. In Azerbaijan, Scuderia was suspected: In qualifying, this trick is said to have been used to generate more power.
And promptly the Ferrari lag in qualifying in Q3 exceeded a second. But Sebastian Vettel relativizes: In Baku we did not get to the point in qualifying. The delay was extraordinary. I don’t think we’ll be back here for a second. On Sunday the Pace was similar, but it is fair to say that Mercedes had the upper hand on Saturdays and Sundays. However, the difference was small.”Many will pay close attention to the qualifying performance of Ferrari in Q3 in Spielberg. Since the lap time on the red bull ring is low, the distances in the field should also be smaller.
Vettel does not want to comment on the oil rumors about his team: “I think it is better to ask someone who knows the engines. It is important to me that the engine runs and works.”Simultaneously, teammate Kimi Ruikkunen also replies,”I am not the person to answer that. You have to ask the team. Of course, there are many rules for different subjects. As long as the rules are the same for everyone, that’s okay.”
Vettel: Mercedes is a favorite
More clearly than for the oil debate Vettel says about the power relationship:”Mercedes is still a favorite – unfortunately”, he sighs on the media day. The German believes that the layout of the 4,3 kilometer long line is better for the competition: “It always depends on the type of route. It goes a little straight. The mountain doesn’t necessarily help us. Bergab would be better. Saturday is the key for us.”
Overall, we have seen in recent weeks that Mercedes has made progress since the weak Monaco race. In Montreal and Baku, the silver arrow was a tick faster than the “Red Goddess.” We know what happened in the last two races. The lines were quite different,”Vettel tries to relativize.”The lines were quite different.” In Canada we had a good Pace even though the car was damaged. My race was, of course, different from Lewis, who was able to control the race from the start.”
Mercedes: Better handling of tyres learned
Austrian last year’s winner Lewis Hamilton confirms t hat Mercedes has made progress. The devil is buried in detail: “We are constantly learning about tyres and have certainly made progress before Montreal. Since then, we’ve been studying every race weekend. On each track it is different, tyre dismantling is different everywhere. But in principle we understand what the problem was and that it no longer occurs. Now we have the better tools and the better understanding to know what to do if there are difficulties.”
The handling of the tires put the silver arrows to a hard test in some races. Spielberg was re-asphalted a year ago for the MotoGP. Here we assume that the tires will be less of a problem,”says Valtteri Bottas. Even if the distance is short, there are fast curves where you can get energy into the tires. The ultrasound should also be easier to bring into the work window. In advance we do not worry much about this.”
Bottas not sure if Mercedes is clear in front of Ferrari
Whether Mercedes will b e the stronger force, the Finnish cannot answer on Thursday:”I am not quite sure if we are clear in front of Ferrari. Montreal and Baku are special routes. That’s why we keep working full throttle to get ahead. We’re confident we can make it. It is still more than half the season to drive and every little thing helps us further.”The duel continues on a high level.
Since Montreal and Baku were two races that were extremely turbulent, Vettel hopes for a more normal weekend in Austria, to better see the true power relationship between the two top teams: “I guess we’re ready here, and I hope the race is a little quieter and the conditions are more constant. The German, who has never won in Austria.
King of the line: “In the previous year it was good for us”
Since Formula 1 in the year 2014 returned to Spielberg, the winner has always driven a Mercedes. The only Ferrari victories on the abbreviated former Austrian ring were won by Eddie Irvine (1998) and Michael Schumacher (2002, 2003).
“Already in the previous year it was good for us here,” hopes the Viceroy. Of course, changing the rules never tells you what’s gonna change. I like the route itself very much. There aren’t many curves. The lap time is therefore very tight, especially in qualifying. Our Pace should fit. We’re confident that we’ll be at the top. Let’s see how it goes, but I think we should be there.”