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Austrian Grand Prix - PREVIEW

For round six of the 2001 FIA F1 World Championship the 'F1 circus' heads to Austria, where the A-1 Ring is located in a picturesque valley surrounded by mountains.

It is very much a home race for the BMW WilliamsF1 Team as Ralf Schumacher has recently moved to Salzburg to live, BMW Motorsport Director, Gerhard Berger, is Austrian like several other team members.

As Germany is not too far away, the Austrian Grand Prix usually attracts many of Ralf's other home fans. These fans are particularly hardy as they set up camp in the surrounding fields, and never seem to mind the cold weather conditions they usually face at this time of the year.

The last two races in Italy and Spain have been successful for the team, with a first and second place. The drivers are determined to keep up the momentum as they head to Austria.

NB: coverage this Sunday on TV One begins at 11.40 pm with live race start at midnight.

Ralf Schumacher:
"I decided to move to Austria, therefore at the A-1 Ring I am going to have my first home race of this season. The track is not very demanding on drivers, nevertheless racing here has always been quite exciting. Unluckily in the last years I didn't have that much luck and I hope this time it's all going to change. I will do my best to get a good result to our team."

Juan Pablo Montoya:
“I am going to Austria in a confident mood, especially after my second place in Spain. It is frustrating when you don't finish races, so I just wanted to make it to the chequered flag, and a second on top of that was the icing on the cake. I am looking forward to going to Austria because I have good memories of the A-1 Ring. I have raced there twice in F3000 - winning in '97 and coming second in '98. On paper it doesn't look a good track for the team, as our results over the last couple of years have not been very good, but in reality we have definitely improved our entire package and we are looking forward to demonstrating that on that circuit. We have had a positive test this week in Valencia and I hope we can see the results of this in Austria."

Frank Williams:
"Not the most demanding of tracks, but the scenic surroundings in a way make up for this. Altogether a much quieter sort of race meeting as there are usually less people and fewer cars, but very good access and very pleasant hotels. I always enjoy going there, especially with a powerful engine!"

Gerhard Berger (BMW Motorsport Director):
"The A-1 Ring should be quite a good track for us. It is very demanding on engines and requires more full throttle than on any other Grand Prix track, which is positive for us. A well-functioning traction control system will be an advantage here so hopefully after the test in Valencia we should be a step ahead compared to Barcelona. Michelin tested at the A-1 Ring with the development car last year so with all these factors combined we are assuming this should be a positive race for us. Despite the fact this is a home race for me, I have never had particularly good experiences at home races in my career. Whenever I thought I had got it all right it just seemed to all go wrong!"

The 71-lap Austrian Grand Prix gets underway at Spielberg (Austria) at 14:00 local time (12:00 GMT) on Sunday May 13. A total race distance of 307.146km (190.892 miles) will be covered at the A-1 Ring (4.326 km - 4.326 miles) where David Coulthard holds the lap record of 1m11.783s (McLaren - 2000). The 2000 race winner was world champion Mika Hakkinen (McLaren).

The Austrian Grand Prix was reinstated in the FIA F1 World Championship in 1997. The return to the track in the Alps was on condition of a major rebuild of the old Austrian circuit. Following the work the track was renamed the A-1 Ring. During the 1997 Grand Prix, Gerhard Berger, BMW Motorsport Director, announced his retirement as a F1 driver.

Ralf Schumacher # 5
Nationality: German
Born: 30 June 1975 / Hürth (Ger)
Marital status: engaged to Cora Brinkmann
Lives: Salzburg (A)
Height: 1,78 m
Weight: 73 kg
F1 debut: 1997, Melbourne, Australia
Best qualifying: 2nd: 2001 Brazil
Best GP fin.: 1st, 2001 San Marino
GP starts: 71
Points 2001: 12
Total points: 98
Fastest laps: 3

Juan Pablo Montoya # 6
Nationality: Colombian
Born: 20 Sept. 1975, Bogota (Col)
Marital status: single
Lives: Monte Carlo (MC), Oxford (UK)
Height: 1,68 m
Weight: 72 kg
F1 debut: 2001, Melbourne, Australia
Best qualifying: 4th, 2001 Brazil
Best GP fin.: 2nd, 2001 Spain
GP starts: 5
Points 2001: 6
Total points: 6
Fastest laps: -

2001 FIA F1 Championship

Ralf Schumacher (Qualifying/Race):
Australia: 5th/DNF
Malaysia: 3rd/5th
Brazil: 2nd/DNF
San Marino: 3rd/1st
Spain: 5th/DNF

Juan Pablo Montoya (Qualifying/Race):
Australia: 11th/DNF
Malaysia: 6th/DNF
Brazil: 4th/DNF
San Marino: 7th/DNF
Spain: 12th/2nd


-End-


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