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Austria GP: Preview - McLaren

NEWS STORY
27/06/2016

Fernando Alonso: "After the unique demands of the Baku City Circuit, we return to a more conventional racetrack in Austria. It's a much shorter track than Baku, but it's still very challenging because you cannot afford to make any mistakes. A lap takes less than 70s, which squeezes the grid closer together and there are only a few tenths of a second between rows.

"To be fast you need good traction and efficient aero, which we have. For that reason, I hope we can be more competitive than we were in Baku - and I hope to have a longer race than I did last year, which was over on the opening lap!

"I enjoy the atmosphere at the Red Bull Ring because the fans are passionate and very knowledgeable. They seem to love anything with an engine and the air displays and motorcycle demonstrations over the weekend are all well received.

"There have been some great Austrian drivers to whet people's appetites, one of whom - Niki Lauda - won a world championship with McLaren. Another former McLaren driver, Gerhard Berger, is a good friend of mine. "The track isn't the most technical on the calendar, but it's still quite demanding because there are some fast corners and you have to be very careful not to make a single mistake for 71 laps. We come prepared and I hope we can have a good weekend."

Jenson Button: "In many ways, racing in Austria reminds me of my early F1 career. I finished fourth at the track in 2003, and, even then, it had the feeling of a classic grand prix circuit. After an 11-year gap when the race wasn't on the calendar, we returned there in 2014 and it's thrown up some exciting races.

"There are only nine corners, which means that every input from within the cockpit needs to be extremely precise, as even the slightest mistake can cost a lot of time. There are a couple of overtaking points, so the racing is always close. I'm looking forward to it.

"After three 'city' races in Monaco, Montreal and Baku, the Austrian Grand Prix has a very different backdrop. It's located in a very rural part of Austria, in the heart of the Styrian mountains, with no big cities close by. That gives it an enjoyable, old-school feel.

"After a decent showing in Baku, I'll be looking to start where I left off next weekend. Like everyone at McLaren-Honda, I'm hungry to score more points; our package is improving race-by-race and I look forward to getting the maximum from it in Austria."

Eric Boullier, Racing Director: "After two long- haul races on consecutive weekends, Formula 1 returns to its European heartland. The Austrian Grand Prix is one of the oldest races on the calendar, it's an event in which McLaren has enjoyed a lot of success, and it's a great weekend for the fans.

"After returning from the last two races without a top 10 finish, our immediate aim is to get back into the points. In Canada, Fernando finished 11th, and Jenson achieved the same result in Azerbaijan, neither of which track best suited our car's characteristics, so we'll be hoping to do a little better in Austria this weekend.

"We also need to address the reliability issues that accounted for one of our cars in each of the last two races. We've been worked hard since we got back to Woking to pin-point the problem and try to ensure that there isn't a recurrence. On a positive note, all four pitstops conducted by our pit crew in Baku were completed in under 3s, which is an incredible effort.

"Away from the track, we've been equally busy. Last week we were delighted to announce a new partnership with Michael Kors, one of several new lifestyle brands associated with McLaren, and we had a significant presence at the Goodwood Festival of Speed, where we ran some classic Formula 1 machinery up the famous hill.

"Now, though, it's time to focus on the racing again and everyone at McLaren-Honda relishes that challenge."

Yusuke Hasegawa, Honda R&D Co Ltd Head of F1 Project & Executive Chief Engineer: "The Red Bull Ring is a beautiful technical track, where once you get up the initial uphill section, most of the circuit is a fast downhill with tight corners. It is also one of the shortest races of the year, so once the lights go out, it becomes an intense battle for the drivers and engineers to strategise and adapt quickly throughout the race.

"The track is somewhat power-hungry but we have confirmed that our new turbo's efficiency helped the team in both Montreal and Baku. We hope to manage our ERS to suit the undulating nature of the track, so we can again fight for points in Sunday's race."

Start time: 14:00 local/1200 GMT

Race distance: 71 laps (full world championship points will be awarded after 75 percent distance/54 laps)

Safety Car likelihoodL Low, due to the large run-off areas. However, there was a six-lap Safety Car period last year after an opening lap pile-up at the exit of Turn 2

When to press record: The start. There's a slight incline on the grid, particularly towards the front, and that can create a wide variation in starts. Nico Rosberg beat pole-sitter Lewis Hamilton into Turn 1 last year

Don't put the kettle on: From lap 25 onwards, when the one-stoppers will make their only scheduled pitstops of the race. One-stop was the favoured strategy last year, but the appearance of the ultra-soft tyre in 2016 could shake up strategies

Weather conditions: 26 degrees

Tyre choices Option: Ultrasoft (purple) Prime: Supersoft (red) Back-Up: Soft (yellow) This combination was last seen at the Canadian Grand Prix

First race 1970 (as the Osterreichring)

Circuit length 4.326km/2.688-mile (18th longest of the season)

Distance to Turn One 185m (longest of season: Barcelona 730m)

Longest straight 868m, on the approach to Turn One

Top speed 310km/h, on the approach to Turn One (fastest of season: Monza, 360km/h)

Pitlane length 242m, estimated time loss 20s (longest pitlane of season: Silverstone 457m)

Full throttle 66 per cent (highest of season: Monza, 75 percent)

DRS zones Two, on the approaches to Turns One and Three

Key corner Turn Nine, a tricky right-hander to end the lap. It has a fast, downhill approach and it's easy to make a mistake under braking and
run wide at the exit. The driver needs to get the power down cleanly because the start-finish straight - the longest period of uninterrupted full throttle - follows

Fastest corner 220km/h, Turn Eight

Slowest corner 75km/h, Turn Two

Major changes for 2016 Extra kerbing on the exit of Turn One to discourage drivers from running wide

Fuel consumption 1.7kg per lap, making it relatively high for a track with only nine corners

ERS demands High. The short lap provides few opportunities to recover the permitted 2mj of energy

Brake wear Medium. There are only three significant braking events

Gear changes 54 per lap /3,834 per race

This is the 30th running of the Austrian Grand Prix. The race has been staged at three different racetracks: Zeltweg Airfield (1964), the Osterreichring (1970-'87) and the Red Bull Ring, nee A1 Ring (1997-'03 and 2014-present). The latter is a re-profiled and shortened version of the majestic Osterreichring

What makes it unique It's the shortest lap of the year in terms of time, with cars circulating in less than 70s

Grip levels Average. The majority of the asphalt was laid in 1997, when circuit designer Hermann Tilke re-built what used to be the Osterreichring. It's a smooth and fairly unabrasive track surface, which is relatively undemanding on tyres

Run-off Plentiful. There is a mix of gravel and asphalt run-off, the asphalt proving quite controversial in recent years because track limits have become a focus of debate

Watch out for: Turn Two. There is a sharp incline on the approach, which allows the drivers to brake late. It's an overtaking point and it's also the scene of many crashes over the years. You may remember the collision between Fernando Alonso and Kimi Raikkonen just after this point on the track in 2015.

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