Formula One returns to Europe and the Red Bull Ring in Spielberg for the Austrian Grand Prix this weekend. You can follow the first and second practice LIVE with Sport360.
The race returned to the F1 calendar last year for the first time since 2003 and in addition to the grand prix, the circuit will also host a two-day test on the following Tuesday and Wednesday.
Nico Rosberg finished highest on the podium last year. The German will be hoping for a repeat this weekend with the fear of team-mate Lewis Hamilton running away with the championship.
Last five winners:
2014: Nico Rosberg (Mercedes);
2003: Michael Schumacher (Ferrari);
2002: Michael Schumacher (Ferrari);
2001: David Coulthard (McLaren);
2000: Mika Hakkinen (McLaren).
You can follow the practices LIVE with Sport360.
If Nico Rosberg is determined to remain in contention for this year’s world championship, he must raise his game and acquire an edge over team mate Lewis Hamilton, something which, by his own admittance, will start with an improved qualifying performance this weekend.
“Canada was really lost for me on the Saturday,” said Rosberg. “Not getting everything together in qualifying hurt my chances big time – but I had the pace and that’s a big positive to take forward and go maximum attack in Austria. My first race at this track last year couldn’t have been much better.”
Indeed, Rosberg will be seeking to repeat his victorious 2014 performance at the Red Bull Ring exactly at a time when he needs to regain the ground lost over his team mate following Hamilton’s brilliant drive in Montreal.
“Of course, we didn’t have the ideal start in qualifying – but we nailed it on Sunday and it was great to get the win. I’m sure we’ll have some tough competition here once again with Williams and probably some others too. But it’s a circuit I really enjoy driving and the crowds are unbelievable, so I’m looking forward to getting back out there and having a good battle. Of course, it’s a home race for Niki and Toto too, so we’ll need to be on our best form for this one!”
Another dominant performance in Austria by Hamilton, who clearly has the upper hand at Mercedes right now, would most probably deal a definitive blow to Rosberg’s psych, hence the German’s need to deliver the goods this weekend.
— MERCEDES AMG F1 (@MercedesAMGF1) June 18, 2015
Two weeks after a disappointing race in Canada, Jenson Button’s motivation remains intact on the eve of the Austrian Grand Prix weekend where the former World Champion hopes McLaren-Honda can make progress towards increased reliability and performance.
“Over the past few days we’ve bounced back from Montreal and we’re already looking firmly ahead at the next challenge. As a team, we’re measured ultimately on where we finish on a Sunday afternoon, which doesn’t take into account the progress we’ve made behind the scenes, or in practice and qualifying in the build-up to the race, so it can sometimes be difficult to see the positives after a tough Grand Prix.”
Button’s only points this season were scored in Monaco where the British driver finished 8th in a year marked by the McLaren-Honda pairing’s persistent development difficulties centered around the Japanese manufacturer’s power unit.
“It’s important that we don’t forget how far we’ve come. Yes, both cars retiring from the race (in Canada) was not at all the result we’ve been working so hard for, but we are focused on the progress we’re still making and the improvements that we’ve already made up to this point. There’s still a huge amount of belief within the team, and we’re continuing to push for development in every area back in Woking and Sakura.”
Jenson Button’s helmet tribute to his Father John, 2014 Austrian Grand Prix. pic.twitter.com/x2IBXh0Ptr
— F1PhotographerFan (@F1Photographer_) October 23, 2014
While a podium finish in Austria is obviously beyond McLaren’s current potential, Button is still looking forward to racing around the Red Bull Ring’s green pastures in Styria.
“Last year’s Austrian Grand Prix was a huge success, and for the few of us drivers that raced here pre-2003, it’s definitely considered one of those ‘mini-classics’: not so complex in terms of its configuration, but fun to drive. On paper, Austria won’t suit the characteristics of our car, but I’m looking forward to enjoying some good racing there and pushing to make more progress in every session.”