Toro Rosso driver Carlos Sainz says that the track at the Red Bull Ring is so smooth, it’s almost like being in the simulator.
The Austrian Grand Prix returned to the Formula 1 calendar in 2014 after a ten-year absence. The 2.683-mile circuit was fully refurbished by its owner, Red Bull drinks company founder Dietrich Mateschitz.
“The new tarmac used for the first time last year gave us a lot of lap time,” said Sainz. “It’s so smooth, it’s like driving in the simulator.
“I think it’s quite a particular track and I’d say it’s one with the highest grip of the year,” he added.
The circuit has technically gained a tenth corner this year. The approach to turn 2 has itself been designated a corner, meaning that the numbering of all but the first turn are boosted by one.
Tyre barriers have been increased in depth in turns 4, 7 and 8. Tecpro barriers have been added around the guardrail end at the pit entry, and orange ‘baguette’ kerbs will be installed on the exit of turns 6, 9 and 10.
Just because it’s the team’s home circuit doesn’t mean Toro Rosso will enjoy any special advantage over their rivals. Unlike last year, the circuit has not held any pre-event test sessions in 2017.
“The fact of not testing in Austria this year doesn’t change much,” Sainz insisted.
“In the end, it doesn’t really matter where you go testing. The important thing is that the car runs and that the team is able to go through the test programme.
“I enjoyed testing in Austria last year, but doing it in Hungary this time will also be interesting.
“Barcelona is the track where we do the most testing, so I appreciate that there are also other tracks where we do it,” he added.
- Sainz: ‘Fourth year at Toro Rosso would be difficult’
However, competing at the team’s home circuit does mean some off-track changes.
“Racing at the Red Bull Ring – Red Bull’s home – changes my race weekend a bit because we have a few more events and things to do,” Sainz said.
“A few more interviews, meeting guests, etc. But I don’t mind it, it’s good to race there.”
“The views are also pretty amazing and it’s a really cool venue to go racing,” he added.
While the weather is looking generally dry and sunny, a few overnight showers and the chance of some storms have also been forecast.
“When racing in Austria last year, I was expecting the rain but it never came!” recalled Sainz. “Let’s see what happens this year, I always enjoy a wet race.”
GALLERY: F1 drivers’ wives and girlfriends
Keep up to date with all the F1 news via Facebook and Twitter