17 June 2014
McLaren drivers keen to make Austrian experience count in F1 return
Jenson Button and Kevin Magnussen are eagerly anticipating F1's return to Austria, branding the Red Bull Ring 'a mini-classic' and 'hardcore' respectively.
McLaren drivers Jenson Button and Kevin Magnussen find themselves in an enviable position as F1 returns to Europe for the first Austrian Grand Prix for eleven years.
The pair are in the minority amongst the 22 drivers scheduled to line up for this weekend's event, as both have prior experience of the Red Bull Ring, albeit separated by over a decade. Button is one of only four drivers – the others being fellow world champions and former McLaren drivers Kimi Raikkonen and Fernando Alonso, plus Williams' Felipe Massa - to have previous F1 race experience at the track, while Magnussen raced at the Styrian venue in last year's World Series by Renault.
Jean-Eric Vergne carried out a demonstration run in one of Toro Rosso's F1 cars at that same event, and will no doubt have learned something to carry into this weekend, but McLaren will enter round eight of the 2014 campaign with its own enviable record in Austria, having won more races in the country than any other constructor.
The layout of the Red Bull Ring – which has also been known as both the A1-Ring (1997-2003) and Osterreichring (1970-1987) during its most recent F1 history - remains unchanged from the series' last visit although, off-track, there have been significant changes to the venue's infrastructure, all of which has been upgraded to bring it in line with the sport's current requirements.
“I think it's great that we're going back to Austria,” Button enthused, “Obviously, the Austrian Grand Prix has such a lot of history, the country has had some great drivers and champions in the past, and it's also currently got a world-class grand prix team, so it makes a lot of sense for us to be racing there again.
“I think [the Red Bull Ring is] a great venue, a fantastic location for a grand prix. From my previous visits, I remember the clear mountain air, the cool morning temperatures before the sun hit the paddock, and the fast, sweeping corners that still largely exist, and which give this circuit a great feel from the cockpit. I remember the racing line for turn one would lead us far out over the exit kerbs and onto the tarmac run-off – it was crazy, and it'll be interesting to see what has changed in the intervening ten years. I hear that the track has been left largely unchanged, but that the pits and paddock have been renovated. I think that's a good call – the track is simple but great. A mini-classic.”
With Button not having been to the circuit for a decade, McLaren will be looking to add Magnussen's more recent experience to the data produced in the simulator as it looks to build on the double score performance from Canada.
“It's strange to be able to say it, but, of all the drivers on the F1 grid, I've probably got the most recent experience of racing at the Red Bull Ring,” 21-year old Magnussen confirmed, “It's a very cool place – a circuit where you never really get to rest in the cockpit because the track is always going somewhere. There's only really one 'straight' straight, along the start/finish line, but it's book-ended by fast corners so the opportunity to relax is pretty minimal.
“But that's what makes it so enjoyable – every lap is a real adrenaline rush because the corners never stop coming. You need to really be on top of the car around here, you want it to be doing exactly what you ask of it, simply because the lap is so physical, the driver is actually doing a lot of work, so he needs his car to take as much of that burden as possible.
“I think this'll be a great new addition to the calendar – the circuit is a hardcore racetrack!”
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