STARRING IN A SPIELBERG CLASSIC
The Formula 1 season moves to Spielberg, Austria next weekend. It will be the first time Austria has hosted an F1 Grand Prix since 2003. As part of the promotion for its return, reigning World Champion Sebastian Vettel met with one of Austria’s greatest ever drivers Gerhard Berger and was given a few track tips ahead of his Spielberg debut. Here is the story of their meeting, courtesy of Red Bull.
The Formula 1 Grand Prix of Austria in 2014 will not just see Sebastian Vettel and Co racing around the Red Bull Ring. The nine former Austrian Formula 1 drivers still living will line up on the start grid with the original cars from their driving careers:
- Helmut Marko (1972 BRM P160b)
- Dieter Quester (1974 Surtees TS16)
- Niki Lauda (1976 Ferrari 312T2)
- Hans Binder (1976 Williams FW05)
- Gerhard Berger (1988 Ferrari 88C)
- Karl Wendlinger (1995 Sauber C14)
- Alexander Wurz (1998 Benetton B198)
- Patrick Friesacher (2005 Minardi PS04)
- Christian Klien (2005 Red Bull Racing RB1).
There were some distinguished visitors to Spielberg recently. As part of filming for ServusTV, Sebastian Vettel and Austrian Formula 1 legend Gerhard Berger visited the Red Bull Ring.
A few days before the return of Formula 1 to Austria, the pair of drivers completed a few laps of the circuit embedded in the Styrian nature. Vettel drove in a 2012 RB8 and Berger in his 1988 Ferrari. The racers then spontaneously swapped their magnificent working gear as some fascinating insights were made with a nostalgic journey through motor sport history.
Deer crossing the Ring. “I have to show you that. If you see it you won’t believe that we once used to race Formula 1 here,“ said Gerhard Berger, chuckling as he entered the old west part of the Österreichring.
“You go uphill here, at full speed, then there is a chicane, the so-called Hella S, then behind that the Flatschach curve, almost fully uphill to the right with no run-off zone, and then came the best – the never-ending slightly downhill Schönberg straight with its bumps. At the old Österreichring you used to drive along a millimetre away from the crash barriers, at 220 mph in those days too. We didn’t think anything of it. Today you’d say, could it really be the case? More than once practice has been interrupted because an animal was somewhere on the circuit, a cow or a deer.”
The pure feel of racing. Gerhard sits in his Ferrari from 1988, with the chassis number 104 with which he contested ten of the 16 races of the 1988 Formula 1 season. Start number 28 was looked after by three Italian mechanics who Gerhard used to work with in his active career. There is a big hello said as the V6 bi-turbo awakes. Gerhard climbs into the cockpit. The gearstick is located to the right of Gerhard’s knees, there are three pedals as normal, and power-assisted steering was a distant dream in 1988.
“I am discovering a love for the old stuff at the moment. It’s great when you drive, the turbo, the manual transmission, the pure driving,” says a beaming Berger.
When engines still made noise. “Now it’s your turn…” said Gerhard. Sebastian climbed into the Ferrari.
“Strange! The shoulders are out in the open air. For the first time I can see the mountains from the track! The legs go downwards instead of upwards with cars nowadays.”
Sebastian started smoothly, rolling away before disappearing and not coming back for some time. When he finally rattled into the pit lane and removed his helmet, he looked like someone who had just come back from a magnificent tour of the mountains, with his eyes glowing and a grin stretching from ear to ear.
“That is so pure, so direct! Because of the lack of down force you don’t get the curve speeds, but never mind, it has enough power anyway. It’s a lot of fun. Awesome!” he said.
Great anticipation. For a long time opinions have been exchanged in the pit lane and stories told. The passion for motor sport is clearly tangible with both generations – as is the anticipation of another ‘home Grand Prix’ in Spielberg.
“Racing in Austria was always something special” says Gerhard pensively, still in his overalls, as if he wanted to bring time to a standstill.
“I am already pleased,” said Sebastian. “It’s great to be here again.”
TO SEE THE VIDEO OF WHEN SEBASTIAN MET GERHARD – CLICK HERE: http://bit.ly/1v7LwMZ
ATHLETES TALK would like to thank Red Bull for access to this story