#ForzaAlex will be a message you will see a lot especially in the Ferrari garage. Alex Zanardi was in a serious accident recently taking part in a handbike event to promote sport with those who have disabilities. He is still fighting for his life in Siena hospital. Both cars will have the #ForzaAlex message on the HALO just in front of the camera.
Ferrari have secured 5 wins at the Austrian GP which with this year totals 33 races held at the venue. The likes of Lorenzo Bandini winning in 1964, Jacky Ickx in 1970, Eddie Irvine in 1999 and Michael Schumacher in 2002 & 2003. Leclerc was One of Eight drivers to secure pole position on the track where he did so last year.
Here are Mattia, Vettel and Leclerc's thoughts pre race weekend.
Mattia Binotto Team Principal
"This weekend the car will run in the same configuration used towards the end of the Barcelona tests. This doesn’t mean we have been twiddling our thumbs in the very limited time of just five and a half weeks in which we were able to work on the cars, because of the stringent procedures involved in working around the pandemic as well as the total shutdown of activities required by the FIA in agreement with the teams.
The truth is that the outcome of the tests led us to take a significant change of direction in terms of development, especially on the aerodynamic front. First, we had to understand why we did not see the results we had expected on track and how much to recalibrate the whole programme as a result. It would have been counterproductive to continue in the direction we had planned, knowing that we would not have reached our goals. Therefore we decided to come up with a new programme that looked at the whole car, knowing that not all of it would be ready for the first race.
Our aim is to introduce the updates at the third race on 19 July at the Hungaroring. Apart from that, over and above the actual development of the car itself, these past few weeks we have worked a lot on analysing its behaviour, with simulation work and with the help of our drivers and I think that will prove its worth in Austria.
We know that, at the moment, we don’t have the fastest package. We knew it before heading for Melbourne and that hasn’t changed. Having said that, the Spielberg circuit has different characteristics to Montmelo and the temperatures will be well above those of February. In Austria, we must try and make the most of every opportunity and then in Hungary, with the new development step we are working on, we will be able to see where we are really compared to the others, while having to take into account the developments our competitors themselves will have brought along.
The truth is that trying to make predictions at the start of such an unusual season is even more pointless than usual. There will be a few pointers come the end of the three hours of Friday practice, but a more accurate idea will be available after Saturday’s qualifying. Only then will we start to have a clearer picture of the hierarchy among the teams, but then there is always the uncertainty that comes with the opening round, in terms of reliability and tyre performance over a race distance. We must try and be perfect in everything we do, in preparing for every session and in how we carry out our tasks. The aim? To bring home as many points as possible, as is always the case in fact."
Sebastian Vettel #5
“It’s no secret that we’re all really keen to get back on track, as it’s been such a long time now. At the start, the break was enjoyable, as usually we are always travelling around the world and we have little time to spend with family and friends, but the time has come to get back on track.
I’m ready to give it my all, even if it won't be the same without the fans there supporting us. The Austrian track is like a carousel that goes round really quickly but I like it a lot, especially as it is high in the mountains which I love.
We have to be realistic when it comes to the pecking order seen at the tests, but we are not downhearted. It will also be unusual doing two races in a row here as for the second one we will have a lot of data to work with. What we do in the first weekend will have an important effect on the second.”
Charles Leclerc #16
“I like the Spielberg circuit very much, because of all its changes of gradient and its high speeds. It’s nice to be starting again there, even if we won't be able to see the support of our fans at the track.
During the long lockdown, I spent time working on my physical training and also doing quite a lot of virtual racing on my simulator, having fun with other drivers and I hope it was also entertaining for those watching from home. But now it's time to get back in the cockpit of a real car.
Last week in Mugello, we were able to get into a Formula 1 car again and I have to say it was really enjoyable to be back behind the wheel.