F1 is back in Austria after 10-year hiatus

The Sports NetworkJune 20, 2014 

During the first session, Rosberg had the quickest time in 1 minute, 11.295 seconds. Hamilton was just a tick behind in 1:11.435, while Fernando Alonso from Ferrari posted a lap in 1:11.606.

"I did a lot of laps today, and on a new track, every lap is important for the learning process, so I'm quite happy with that," Rosberg said. "In general, it was a complicated day for me, so there is still some lap time to find compared to my teammate [Hamilton]. My car is bouncing a lot down the straights, and that continues into my braking zones, so it was difficult there. But I'm sure we can improve on that."

Hamilton led the way in the second session. His fastest lap was clocked in 1:09.542, which was almost four-tenths of a second quicker than Rosberg's best lap. Alonso was once again third quickest.

"It didn't feel bad out there today, considering this is a new track to me," Hamilton said. "Already after the first few laps, I was feeling comfortable and always seemed to be finding time with new lines and improvements. To be as quick as I was, considering others have already driven this track, is a great feeling. It was very windy out there today, but we got a lot of running, and we feel set for the race on Sunday."

Rosberg and Hamilton combined for a total of 138 laps in the two sessions, which was the equivalent to nearly two race distances. Sunday's Austrian GP is 71 laps.

"The high speed corners were working the rear tires hard, but they seemed to cope well," Hamilton noted. "The feeling was good for both sets of tires, even in the long runs, so if the car is like this for the race, I'm in a good place. The goal for [Saturday] will be pole position, but there is still a long straight up to turn two so anything can happen in the race."

Rosberg enters the Austrian GP, the eighth round in this year's F1 world championship, with a 22-point lead over Hamilton.

When F1 most recently competed two weeks ago in Canada, Red Bull driver Daniel Ricciardo scored his maiden win, passing Rosberg for the lead with less than three laps to go as Rosberg was dealing with an ill-handling car. The race concluded with the deployment of the safety car after Force India's Sergio Perez and Felipe Massa from Williams made contact and spun out before both drivers slammed hard into the barrier on the final lap.

Here in Austria, this will be a big weekend for Ricciardo and his teammate, Sebastian Vettel, the four-time world champion, as the Austrian GP is the home race for the Red Bull Racing F1 team. Austrian businessman Dietrich Mateschitz, who founded the Red Bull Energy Drink company in the mid-1980s, owns both the team and the racing circuit in Spielberg.

"It's great to be going to Red Bull's home race after an awesome weekend in Canada," Ricciardo said. "The Red Bull Ring is a tidy circuit, not the longest and not many corners, but what is there is good."

Ricciardo's win in Canada moved him up to third in the championship standings. He is a distant 61 points behind Rosberg.

Formerly known as the Osterreichring and the A1-Ring, the Red Bull Ring has been significantly upgraded since it last hosted an F1 grand prix 11 years go. The Austrian GP was contested on the Osterreichring from 1970-87 and the A1- Ring from 1997-2003. Zeltweg Airfield hosted the first F1-sanctioned Austrian GP in 1964.

Series: Formula One. Date: Sunday, June 22. Race: Austrian Grand Prix. Site: Red Bull Ring. Track: 2.688-mile (4.326-kilometer), 9-turn road course. Start Time: 8 a.m. ET. Laps: 71. Miles: 190.773 (307.020 km). Television: NBC Sports Network.

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