Esteban Ocon finished eighth in Canada to continue his recent points-scoring run. Esteban aims to make it five top ten finishes in a row this weekend as Formula 1 prepares for its second Sprint weekend of the 2023 season.
After scoring points in Canada, how are you feeling ahead of this European double-header?
I’m definitely feeling good and ready for the next European double header in Austria and Great Britain. I think since Baku we’ve been having quite strong Saturdays and have managed to convert that level of performance into a reasonable outcome on Sundays. We’re satisfied with our performance at the moment, but it’s still not where we want to be and we must capitalise more on opportunities and take bigger points on race day. The team across both Enstone and Viry has done a very good job with the car and the upgrades that we are able to bring to the track week in, week out. We have a good package that is able to compete with the teams in front, and we must make the most of everything if we want to reach our ambitious goals by the end of the season.
What are you expecting from the Austria Sprint weekend?
I think that we should be confident coming into this weekend at this track. We have consistently been in Q3 this season and last year we finished fifth in the race at Red Bull Ring. Both Pierre and I are feeling good and we know we have a car that performs well, we just need to demonstrate that with more straightforward weekends as we know both cars can end up with strong points for the team. I personally feel refreshed and ready to attack this weekend and I am looking forward to the Sprint race where more points are on offer, which is always a good opportunity. I enjoy driving this track and being in this beautiful country and I can’t wait to be back in the car on Friday!
With previous success in Austria, what do you enjoy most about the Red Bull Ring?
It’s good to be back in Spielberg as I really enjoy coming back here. I had a good result here last year, so we hope to have another good weekend like that. As for the track itself, it presents some interesting challenges with the tight low-speed corners contrasting with the faster infield corners at Turn 6 and 7. Also, the significant elevation changes add to the challenge and make some of the braking zones tricky. Nevertheless, it’s fun to drive and hopefully we can take advantage of the Sprint weekend format to collect valuable points.
Converting pace to points
Pierre Gasly could count himself unfortunate in Canada as he finished narrowly outside of the points after a compromised qualifying left him playing catch-up. Pierre has the bit between his teeth as he seeks a cleaner outing in Austria this weekend.
What are your thoughts after Canada?
I definitely left Canada feeling frustrated as we did not come away with a fair reward for the promising pace that we showed. There was more on the table on Saturday but, unfortunately, the impeding incident meant we could not progress further than Q1 and that meant we were always going to be in a tough position on the grid to make much of an impact on Sunday. I’m staying positive – like Spain too – as the pace is there, but we just have to keep working hard and make sure we extract everything possible from the race weekend.
What are your thoughts on the Red Bull Ring?
I really like the Red Bull Ring. It’s one of those classic European circuits with a traditional feel and a great atmosphere to go with it. It’s one of the shortest circuits on the calendar but it’s fast and very rewarding. It has some big braking zones as well as fast sweeping corners, especially Sector 3 with the two quick right handers. We have some good opportunities this weekend with the Sprint format. It’s two Qualifying sessions and two races where we must be on it from lap one. We have some unfinished business after the disappointment in Baku – the first Sprint of the season – and I’m feeling ready for it in Austria this weekend.
How have you spent the last week?
After Canada it was a good opportunity to have a few days off to relax and unwind. I had a good weekend in Sardinia but now I’m definitely feeling ready to race. We’ve done our preparation; we know it’s going to be a busy and intense weekend but it’s all in our hands to have a good end result.
Five Alpine Academy drivers will line up on the grid in Austria this weekend as Jack Doohan (Invicta Virtuosi) and Victor Martins (ART Grand Prix) head into Round 8 of the FIA Formula 2 Championship while FIA Formula 3 will also join the Formula 1 support bill with Gabriele Minì (Hitech), Nikola Tsolov (ART) and Sophia Floersch (PHM Racing) taking to the Red Bull Ring for Round 6 of the series’ championship.
Victor heads to Austria with some momentum after a successful weekend in Spain earlier in the month, having reached the podium in both the Sprint and Feature races. He will look to replicate his results and once again turn his show of pace into a solid haul of points. Jack enters Round 8 aiming to improve on his weekend in Spain, where he collected points in both races. He will look to maximise a recent upturn in form and deliver good results over the weekend.
In FIA Formula 3, Gabriele and Nikola will look to deliver strong results after a challenging weekend in Barcelona. Heading to the familiar Spielberg track – not far from her home city of Munich across the border - Sophia will look to replicate her solid race pace from Spain, where she consistently matched the times of those in the top 12.
Jack Doohan: “I’m very excited to be heading to Austria as it is a circuit I really enjoy. I had a strong weekend there last year getting on the podium in the Sprint Race, but anything can be thrown up in the air with the weather and rapidly changing conditions. It’s about managing the weekend and maximising the opportunity for point scoring positions. I can’t wait to get back there and hopefully get some good results as we head into a busy month of racing, with four races in five weeks.”
Victor Martins: “I’m really excited to get back on track in Austria after three weeks since the last round. I am looking forward to being back with the team, we had a great weekend in Barcelona so we are aiming to continue with the positive momentum and maximise everything over the weekend to get more confidence for the rest of the season. I really like the Spielberg circuit, especially the last four corners as they are so high speed. There are a lot of straights and DRS zones, so I am hoping it will be interesting and that there is a lot of opportunities to make some overtakes. It is the start of four race weekends in one month, so it will be quite intense, but we know what we need to do, and it will be nice to start on the right foot.”
Gabriele Minì: “It’s going to be a very exciting weekend in Austria. We know that the track doesn’t have that many corners, so it will be very close in the timings for Qualifying and in the races, and hopefully there will be some good battles. We are coming off the back of Barcelona, which wasn’t one of the easiest weekends for us, but we know we have a good car and are on the pace, so we are going to keep working and try to focus on the race ahead, and hopefully get some more points.”
Nikola Tsolov: “I am looking forward to getting back to racing after a few weeks off. I’ve had time to recharge the batteries and analyse everything with the aim of coming back stronger. Red Bull Ring is a new track for me, we are expecting to take another step forward and our goal is to have a strong Qualifying. We have been showing strong pace during the races but now we need to improve the single lap pace in Qualifying to help us be in a better place to fight for points on Saturday and Sunday.”
Sophia Floersch: “We are back racing! This time in Austria, which is actually one of my favourite tracks and also a home race of sorts for me. I’ve raced at the Red Bull Ring in so many different cars and I just love the track, venue and atmosphere every time I visit. I’m super happy to be back in Spielberg with FIA Formula 3 again and I really hope that we can push things forward. It’s always super close together there but we will do our best to see what outcome we can get from the weekend.”
Austrian Grand Prix Factfile
Drivers, team facts and stats:
• The Red Bull Ring is 4.318km in length and has an average speed of 246km/hr (153 mph).
• The Austrian circuit consists of 10 corners, making it the track with the least number of corners on the 2023 calendar.
• The Austrian Grand Prix is 71 laps, equalling Mexico and Brazil for the Grand Prix with the third most number of laps on the calendar.
• Either Esteban Ocon or Pierre Gasly have started in the top six at the last four consecutive F1 races held at this venue. Coincidentally they come into this weekend having started in the top six in the last four races in 2023.
• Out of the past 36 Austrian Grands Prix, there has been 23 different race winners.
• There is a 45% chance of a safety car at the Red Bull Ring, based on its history as a Formula 1 World Championship round.
• The absolute lap record at the Red Bull Ring is 1min 02.939secs, which was completed by Valtteri Bottas in 2020.
• Esteban’s best qualifying at the Red Bull Ring was in 2020 where he started 5th on the grid, and his best race finish was in 2022 where he crossed the line also in 5th.
• Pierre has been consistent in recent years at the Austrian Grand Prix, where he qualified 6th in both 2021 Grands Prix held in Spielberg (Styrian and Austrian GP) and finished 7th in 2019 and 2020.
Further Facts and Stats:
• The Austrian Grand Prix has had different names over the previous 36 years of it being in the F1 World Championship, including Österreichring (1970-1987) and the A1-Ring (1997-2003) and in 2020 and 2021 it held the Styrian Grands Prix.
• Esteban’s fifth place result last year came in his 100th career Grand Prix, as well as his 50th start for the Enstone team under the Renault and Alpine names. Coincidentally, he made his debut for this team in Austria in 2020, when he finished 8th from 14th on the grid.
• Saturday of the Austrian Grand Prix weekend the anniversary of another milestone, as it marks 44 years since Renault became the first company to win a world championship Grand Prix using a turbocharged engine, as their 1.5-litre turbocharged V6 powered Jean-Pierre Jabouille to victory in the 1979 French Grand Prix.
• This is the sixth Grand Prix held at this track in the 2020s, more than any other venue. The reason is because the Red Bull Ring held two races in each of the 2020 and 2021 seasons.