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2014 Austrian GP preview: Get the horns...

2014-06-19 08:34


ANOTHER EDITION OF THE MERC SHOW? Will Austria’s return to the F1 calendar play host to yet another bout of Merc dominance in 2014 or will Red Bull’s Daniel Ricciardo cause another upset? Image: AP/ Ryan Remiorz

LONDON, England - Lewis Hamilton is ready to take an unfamiliar bull by its horns on Sunday (June 22 2014) as Austria's revamped Red Bull Ring returns to the Formula 1 calendar after 11 years.

The Mercedes driver, a teenager when Austria last hosted a GP in 2003, needs to win at Spielberg to rein in championship-leading team mate Nico Rosberg after the blow of retirement at the 2014 Canadian GP earlier in June.

Hamilton said in a team preview: "I've never driven the circuit but I've been working on it on the simulator and I'm sure I'll learn it pretty quickly when we get out on track.

"It's always exciting to go to a new venue - it should be an interesting weekend. I'm feeling good in the car and I'll be pushing flat-out for maximum points."


With Rosberg finishing first or second in every race to date and Hamilton retiring without points twice, Rosberg now has a 22-point lead as the championship arrives at Red Bull's home track for the eighth race of 19 in 2014. Hamilton may have to win another four races in a row, as he did earlier in 2014, just to regain the upper hand if Rosberg remains so consistent.

Hamilton said: "There is a long, long way to go. I caught up before and I'll catch up again. It's going to take another four wins to make the difference."

He started the season with a retirement in Australia that left him 25 points in arrears.

Mercedes motorsport head Toto Wolff was not discounting that possibility: "Nico has an increased gap at the top of the championship but Lewis is a fighter and I have no doubt he will come back stronger than ever."

Mercedes have been dominant in 2014 but Austrian-owned Red Bull broke its winning streak in Canada when Daniel Ricciardo took his first F1 victory ahead of what amounts to a home race for the team.


The short, but scenic, track in the southern Styrian mountains remains largely the same as the old A1 Ring and is set to be a big celebration of motorsport in Austria with every living Austrian F1 driver taking part in a "legends" parade. How much of a celebration it will be for Red Bull remains to be seen.

Team principal Christian Horner said after the 2014 Canadian GP: "We're going to have a lot of home support. There's still a gap to Mercedes but we're working on closing that.

"To have a race at the Red Bull Ring as Red Bull Racing - with that comes a bit of pressure but it will be fantastic to perform in front of a home crowd."


Quadruple F1 champion Sebastian Vettel has driven the circuit several times but only four current drivers - Jenson Button, Fernando Alonso, Felipe Mass, Kimi Raikkonen - have raced there. None has won; only Raikkonen has reached the podium.

The most recent winner at the track was Michael Schumacher. He also had one of the most controversial wins of his career at the circuit in 2002 when team mate Rubens Barrichello was ordered to let him pass despite dominating the race.

Of the newcomers, McLaren rookie Kevin Magnussen and Toro Rosso newcomer Daniil Kvyat have the freshest experience, having raced there in 2013 in the Renault 3.5 World Series and Formula 3 respectively. Magnussen explained: "It's a very cool place - it's a circuit where you never really get to rest in the cockpit because the track is always going somewhere. Every lap is a real adrenalin rush because the corners never stop coming."

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