Lewis Hamilton targets qualifying improvement at the Austrian GP
First of four races in five weeks to be held this Sunday
Last Updated: 02/04/20 11:21am
Lewis Hamilton says a mistake-free qualifying could be key to a successful Austrian GP this weekend.
Hamilton fell 24 points behind Nico Rosberg in the drivers' championship after a torrid race in Baku two weeks ago. The world champion had topped the timesheets in all three practice sessions before his weekend began to spectacularly unravel during an error-strewn qualifying hour that culminated in the Mercedes driver swiping the barriers and starting out from just tenth.
With overtaking opportunities restricted around the ultra-fast Red Bull Ring, and tactical flexibility at a premium if the race runs to the rhythm of a one-stop strategy, Hamilton says there can be no room for error this Saturday.
"We've got an old school track there in Spielberg," said Hamilton. "It's fast, with a good flow to it. It's tough to overtake but there are places you can try something different so that's a good challenge.
"It's definitely a big advantage starting up front there, though, so I need to get back on it in qualifying and do a better job than last time out. Austria is a beautiful country and I always enjoy my time there, so it would be great to get a win there and tick it off the list."
Rosberg has won both of the races in Austria since the country made a surprise return to the F1 calendar in 2014 and victory this Sunday would take the German more than thirty points clear in the standings.
"Baku was a good weekend for me," Rosberg said. "I really felt at one with the car, so that's a big positive looking ahead to the next races.
Now we go to Austria, which has been a real strength for us as a team in the past two years. It'll be tough against the Williams cars in particular, as they've pushed us hard there before. But I think our Silver Arrow is still definitely the best package on the grid and I can't wait to see what it can do in Spielberg.
"To have two wins from two races at any track is pretty special, so if I could make it three in three that would be awesome. It's a short run to the first corner there and generally my starts and first corners have been strong this season, so if I can qualify well there's a good chance of a top result."
One looming complication the Mercedes drivers, and the rest of the field, may have to contend with is the fickle Austrian weather with heavy showers forecast for Friday and Saturday.
Sunday's race starts at 1pm UK Time by when conditions are expected to have eased.