Preview: Austrian GP

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Formula One returns to the Austrian mountains for the first time since 2003. The track layout of the circuit near Spielberg is still the same as 11 years ago, but all the rest has been dramatically changed and upgraded.

The Austrian Grand Prix has inextricable links to Styria, located in the south east of the country. Zeltweg Airfield staged the inaugural race in 1964, with the magnificent Osterreichring becoming its permanent home from 1970 amidst the growing popularity of Austrian Jochen Rindt. There were many memorable moments during the race’s 18-year spell at the ’Ring – most notably Vittorio Brambilla crossing the line backwards to win in 1975, and Elio de Angelis beating Keke Rosberg by just 0.050s in ’82.

The track gradually fell into disrepair until Austrian telecom company A1 provided the funds to redevelop the venue, appointing Hermann Tilke to shorten and redesign the circuit, eventually bringing Formula One racing back to Austria in 1997. It would continue to host Grands Prix for the next six years, before again being dropped from the calendar after the 2003 event.

From a technical point of view, the Red Bull Ring is similar to the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve in Montreal, albeit slightly less extreme. Fuel consumption is expected to be hard, but manageable; brake wear will be high, but the four long straights will aid cooling, and high top speeds will once again be crucial to success.


Car setup


Front wing
A reasonable level of front wing will need to be carried to help reduce understeer in the long med/high speed corners turn 5 and 6.

Rear wing
Simulations show that the rear wing level will be similar to that of Bahrain/Malaysia. A little more than was used in Montreal

Suspension
A little bit of everything is needed from the suspension, good traction from turns 2 and 3, a responsive car for turns 5 and 6. In the past the cars could run extensively over the kerbs – we will need to asses any changes and adjust settings accordingly.

Brakes
First 3 corners are preceded by long straights and we can expect speeds well in excess of 300kph before braking down to these slowish corners which will give the brakes quite a workout. However the rest of the lap is medium to high speed corners with light braking requirements. Overall it’s quite an easy track for the brakes.

Tyres
Once more it will be the yellow soft and red super soft combination of tyres from Pirelli’s range. Not too many sustained high-speed corners to stress or overload the rubber. The asphalt is also generally very smooth in Spielberg, having been extensively renewed recently. This means that the cars will slide more, especially at the start of the weekend, and this can cause graining if not kept under control.

Power unit
The Spielberg circuit may look simple but there are a number of challenging points for power units. The high altitude will cause the turbo to spin at a much higher rate to compensate for the low ambient pressure, while the four straights will mean the ICE runs at full throttle for a high percentage of the lap. These long periods of open throttle require the MGU-H to recover and deliver lots of energy to the ICE to minimize lap time. Likewise the MGU-K will be expected to feed the ICE to deliver extra power, although the low number of braking points will make it difficult to recover significant energy under braking.

Quick facts

Number of corners: 10 (3 left, 7 right)
Distance from pole to Turn 1 apex: 185 m
Braking events: 7 (3 heavy)
Pit lane length under speed limit control: Unknown
Pit lane time at 80 km/h: Unknown
Tyre energy: Low
Brake energy: Average
Fuel consumption: High. Nearly 60 per cent of the lap is expected to be spent on full throttle, and there’s lots of acceleration from slow-speed corners


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