Just a few days on from securing his maiden Formula 1 win in the British Grand Prix at Silverstone, Carlos Sainz was back in the paddock at Spielberg, meeting the journalists in the usual FIA Thursday press conference. “Everyone’s asking me what it’s like to be a Grand Prix winner,” began the Spaniard. “The truth is, I can’t really explain it. It was very emotional to have achieved it, although there wasn’t much time to celebrate. But by pure chance, some friends were due to come to Maranello from Silverstone with me, so I allowed myself a few drinks with them before getting down to work, preparing for the race in Austria.”
Circuit. Charles Leclerc likes the Spielberg track. “It reminds me of a kart track with only a few corners and a lap time of just over a minute,” he said. “Also, overtaking is not too difficult here, so the races are usually fun. Last year, I had a collision with another car on the first lap, but I still managed to make up a lot of places and finish not far behind the leaders. With these cars, it will be important to work out how to deal with the kerbs to maximise performance without damaging the car.”
Working together. Carlos prepared for this race on the simulator this week, as Charles had already done prior to Silverstone. “As usual, we work closely together, exchanging data to arrive as well prepared as possible, especially on a weekend when the Sprint format means you have very little time to set up the car,” explained Carlos. Charles echoed his team-mate’s explanation. “The work we do as a team is one of our strong points and one race isn’t going to change the way we work together. We are more determined than ever to do well in Austria and I think we have everything we need to aim for the win here also.”
Programme. Tomorrow, there is just one hour of free practice, starting at 13.30 local time, while instead of the usual second session, qualifying gets underway at 17.00, to decide the grid order for the Sprint race. That takes place on Saturday at 16.30, prior to which there’s a final hour of free practice at 12.30. The Sprint is run over 24 laps, equivalent to 100 kilometres, with points going to the first eight finishers: eight for the winner, down to one for eighth place. The Austrian Grand Prix starts at 3pm on Sunday, its grid based on the finishing order of the Sprint.