Experienced F1 journalist TRENTHAM SLEAVES looks forward to this weekend’s race
After too many years away, Formula 1 finally returns to Austria. Here in the paddock it feels like a homecoming for the sport that has known many local legends such as my old mate Niki Lauda, my chum Christian Klien or of course my close personal friend, Gerhard Berger. I’ve known Gerhard for years and I’ve always enjoyed the wonderful humour he most famously brought to bear on his relationship with the inimitable Ayrton Senna when the pair drove together at McLaren. I remember my old mate Ron Dennis once said to me, ‘Yes, that’s correct, they both drove for McLaren.’ I later asked Gerhard about this and he pretended not to understand the question. ‘You are blocking the door, please move,’ he joshed! Priceless.
Of course, some outside of the paddock have claimed that the legendary Red Bull Ring, previously the A1 Ring, wasn’t always known for thrilling racing so has anything changed? That’s the question I put to my old pal Dieter Mateschitz who I bumped into at a fabulous Red Bull party last night where the great and good of F1 partied into the wee small hours with gossip flowing as freely as a certain brand of energy drink! ‘I’m sorry, who are you?’ he quipped! Marvellous sense of humour.
I’m sure you’re wondering, who will take the flag here in Austria? I’m going to stick my neck out and say that the Mercedes are sure to be strong but the Red Bulls could give them a run for their money and you shouldn’t discount the Ferraris or ignore the ever-improving McLarens or Force India and Sauber, both of whom have the power surprise. Whatever happens, I’ll be enjoying a ringside seat for all the action. Because remember, I’m here and you’re not.