McLaren To Defend Reigning Supreme
Tallying in at a total number of six wins, McLaren reigns supreme with the most victories in Austrian Grand Prix history. And yet it was none other than Ferrari and Michael Schumacher who enjoyed the prime spot on the podium during the last two races held at hilly Spielberg, before it disappeared from the F1 time-table in 2003.
Since Spielberg’s return to the F1 schedule, Mercedes has been doing the high-fiving around the 10 tricky corners, with Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg at the steer. Yet Mercedes hasn’t been the only over-achiever as far as Austria is concerned. Max Verstappen from Team Red Bull Racing was in the glorious lead for five tours last year. Whether Mercedes will remain in the driver’s seat in 2017 is anyone’s guess.
Be that as it may, Lewis Hamilton is the only 2017 contender to have won in Austria before – ever. Whether this is a reflection on the genius that is Mercedes or simply unadulterated Hamilton doing what it does best, is the key question.
Interesting Changes Afoot
The infamous Turn 2 has been tweaked into becoming Turn 3 – thanks to some nifty renumbering. This is where a lot of overtaking takes place during the race, making for many a misguided decision and treacherous situation. This year should be no different, if history is anything to go by.
Turn 3 has been known to amplify small errors, turning them into near-fatal disasters. All bets are off when 20 cars all come at the corner simultaneously after having been lulled into false reassurance by the preceding flat-out stretch of track.
A Different Strategy
The fact that the track surface is quite abrasive, coupled with tyre manufacturer Pirelli’s softer tyres, is enforcing the fact that tyre strategy now plays a bigger role than ever before. To top it all off, there’s the psychology of the business of Austria being a shorter track. This tends to run amuck with driver’s minds and general sound judgement – tricking them into a false sense of being able to relax. Losing track of the technical challenges and unforgiving nature of the track – albeit shorter than most – can be a recipe for disaster.
A shorter track brings with it a number of unusual challenges, such as having to make sure that the hybrid power units are able to supply the surge of sudden power needed on a short track that offers limited opportunities to generate surplus power.
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