Sunday sees the 32nd running of the Austrian Grand Prix. It was first held in 1964 on an L-shaped track laid out on the Zeltweg aerodrome, when the winner was Lorenzo Bandini at the wheel of a Ferrari 156 F1-63. The track was then abandoned and was never used again for Formula 1 as the surface, a mix of concrete and tarmac, was too bumpy for Formula 1 cars.
The race returned to the calendar in 1970 at the new Osterreichring circuit, which measured just under six kilometres. It wound its way through the climbs and descents of the Styrian mountains between the towns of Zeltweg and Spielberg. This layout was kept up until 1987, after which it disappeared from the calendar for ten years, returning to the same venue with a new 4.3 kilometre layout. The new Spielberg hosted the race from 1997 to 2003 before again dropping off the calendar. A new owner then ensured some stability with the race returning as from 2014. Last year the Ferraris were second and third.
Scuderia Ferrari has won five times in Austria. After that initial win with Bandini, the Scuderia was also victorious when the race was first run at the Osterreichring, courtesy of the Belgian Jacky Ickx, who led home his team-mate Clay Regazzoni, the two men split by just 61 thousandths of a second.
Almost thirty years later, it was Eddie Irvine who drove his F399 to the victory, benefiting from a battle between the two McLaren drivers that resulted in the retirement of the championship leader, Mika Hakkinen. The other two wins were down to Michael Schumacher, the first in 2002 and the second one a year later. On this occasion there was a nasty scare on the way to the podium: Rubens Barrichello's refuelling rig failed to work when the Brazilian pitted in his F2003-GA, so the team switched to Schumacher's equipment. When the German pitted shortly afterwards, fuel left in the hose following Barrichello's stop, caught fire with flames licking the car. An impassive Schumacher never flinched, watching in his mirrors as the Scuderia Ferrari mechanics calmly put out the fire. Michael rejoined third and went on to win the Grand Prix.
Sebastian Vettel: "Austria is a popular place with everyone in the paddock and all the drivers. If you look at the scenery around the track, it is set in a unique landscape with mountains surrounding it. If you are lucky, you even see snow on some of the mountain peaks in the distance. Driving around there in a Formula 1 car and seeing cows next to the track is also something quite unusual.
"It is difficult to get everything right on this track even though it's a very short lap. It is crucial to get a good qualifying position in order to have a good race. It is definitely one I want to win. We have been on the podium in the past, so now we will be back to try and win."
Charles Leclerc: "I look forward to returning to Spielberg. The atmosphere is great and there are many activities taking place around the track, which gives fans as well as ourselves a great experience.
"The circuit is an interesting one. It's quite a short lap, so you really have to put it all together to secure a good position in qualifying. We made some progress during the last race weekend, especially in qualifying, improving my performance from Q1 to Q3. The target will be to build on that and find further ways to improve overall."
Mattia Binotto, Team Principal: "We are happy to be getting back on track so quickly, because it's the best way to put ourselves to the test again to try and understand the elements that did not go according to plan in France.
"We have various test items to evaluate, mainly in order to give us a clearer picture as to why some of the updates we brought to Le Castellet did not work as expected.
"The Austrian track is very different to Paul Ricard. The first sector has long straights and braking in a straight line, while the second part is tighter, with a mix of low and medium-high speed corners.
"The forecast is for very hot conditions, so it will be a demanding weekend on the cooling front, both for the engine and the brakes, which means tyre management will also be very difficult."