Lewis Hamilton is targeting a first ever win at the Austrian Grand Prix – and will use his video game knowledge to give him the edge.
The reigning world champion finished second in Spielberg last year behind team-mate Nico Rosberg as the race returned to the calendar for the first time since 2003.
That means that along with Brazil and Mexico – where Hamilton has never raced – the Red Bull Ring is only a trio of circuits where he has not stood on the top step.
But the 30-year-old has enjoyed a dominant start to the season, winning four of the opening seven races.
And now he is aiming for his maiden victory in the Austrian Alps, putting his childhood hours spent on a games console to good use.
“Definitely it is a big challenge for me,” he said when asked about adding Austria to the list of tracks he has conquered.
“It is something I’m excited about. I grew up playing computer games with this track and then I never got to drive it.
“It was always one of my favourites on the computer game and then I remember the days of watching Michael (Schumacher) and Rubens (Barrichello) here and even ones further back than that.
“I was excited to come here last year and what I didn’t know was how beautiful the place was. When I came I knew about the track, I didn’t know how stunning it is with the mountains nearby.”
Away from the car, Hamilton is now living what he has dubbed a “rock and roll” lifestyle – jet-setting across the globe to attend fashion events, movie premieres or spend time on his yacht with reality TV stars.
But, after the hustle and bustle of the Canadian Grand Prix he dominated two weeks ago, he is happy to spend some time in a quieter corner of the world.
“It is beautiful to be in the countryside, away from a city with no noise,” he added.
“The last race it was so noisy outside and it was so busy, loud, so much traffic and stuff. My family live in the countryside and I like the countryside, and that is what we have got here.”
That win in Montreal ended team-mate Nico Rosberg’s run of back-to-back victories and re-established Hamilton as the favourite for the drivers’ title.
But he insists he did not feel the need to end any perceived head of steam that his German team-mate may have been building.
“I’m never one to talk about momentum,” he said.
“You have two weeks after a race so it is not like you go from one day to another carrying momentum – it dies.
“You go into the last race with the knowledge that you have won the previous race but I don’t see it as momentum. I think it was important for me personally, not concerning Nico, just to get back after a real difficult, emotional experience in Monaco.
“That was the most important thing and the most testing thing for me. To bounce back and drive the same and do good that weekend was really positive for me.”
Rosberg echoed his team-mate and said he heads to Austria with the approach of not looking back at previous outings.
“I don’t think so much about the past or things like that,” he said.
“For me it is now. Lately it has been going okay – of course in Canada not so much, I lost out there. But I’m feeling good. It’s great to be here, I won here last year so I’m arriving here very optimistically – we have a great car, so it should be a great weekend.”
It was here 12 months ago that Mercedes last failed to qualify on pole position, such has been their dominance of the field since.
Williams were on top in qualifying as Felipe Massa took pole ahead of team-mate Valtteri Bottas, and the Brazilian knows it will be a challenge to repeat that feat this year – but refused to rule out the possibility.
“I think you say never say never,” Massa said.
“We know it will be very difficult because the Mercedes is the quickest car with a big margin this year. But we will try.
“We need to think about every race and try to do the best we can – we always fight for first position in qualifying and in the race. We know Mercedes are very strong but we will try and I hope that it will be possible.”