Austrian GP preview

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Formula One touches down in Austria this weekend which will be its 31th appearance in the Republic of Austria. The race which is hosted near Spielberg will be the 9th round of this year’s championship campaign and opens the intense period of the mid-summer races.

History

Austria has a long and rich history in F1. The relatively small country hosted races for the pinnacle of the motorsport on two different venues and in different periods with a few interruptions.

The Zeltweg Airfield circuit opened the book of the Austrian GP history. A non-championship event was held in 1963 which was won by Jack Brabham. The first championship race was then held in the following year. As the track proved to be too dangerous, that Zeltweg track did not host any more races.

As Austria did not give up its hopes and will of organizing further GPs, the country built a suitable track also in the Zeltweg area. It was named the Österreichring. It is located in the scenic Styrian mountains with a picturesque background of green lands and big trees.

Races were held between 1970 and 1987. This fast, flowing track features long straights and long corners with only a couple of slower turns. This nature of the track meant the governing body FIA was not happy with the safety conditions. The lack of protection from trees and the amount of high-speed corners meant the FIA refused to give the green light for further races from 1987 on.

Austria disappeared from F1 for a decade, but the Österreichring was renewed in 1995 and 1996 and the Circus returned to the modernised track in the following year whcih was renamed A1-Ring. The whole layout was redesigned by German architect Hermann Tilke and the track partly lost its original nature. However, its is still a fast circuit with its long uphill sections. The A1 Ring hosted the Austrian GP in 2003 for the last time.

Thereafter the Austrian energy drink company Red Bull purchased the former Östreichring and renamed it as Red Bull Ring. The track was also updated with many changes to the pit area, the grandstands and run off zones. Since then the track has been a venue for various events: a series of motorsport races, the Red Bull Air Race and concerts were held there.

In 2014, Austria celebrated its welcome return to action on the highest level of motorsport.

Race track

The Red Bull Ring is a track with fast, flowing corners and three long straights. The 4326m long circuit consists of nine corners, two of them are left-hand while nine are right-hand corners. Drivers reach speed of above 250kph in two corners while cornerning speed is under 100kph in two turns. In turn two the speed drops to around 65kph.

Over 70 per cent of the lap is run at full throttle. This combined with the uphill section up to the second corner means engine performance is important over one qualifying lap while engine efficiency and energy deployment are key factors in the race.

Pirelli will supply the trio of ultrasoft, supersoft and soft compounds to the Red Bull Ring as tyre degradation is pretty low. This means a one-stop strategy is expected.

Drivers have to travel 290m long in the pit lane area on the speed limit.

There are six braking zones, three of them are heavy ones. Engineers need to pay attention to the behaviour of the brakes because the three fastest full throttle sections end in rather low-speed turns.

The Red Bull Ring’s layout is pretty easy to learn, but the heavy braking zones and the flowing corners of the middle sector often invite drivers for mistakes.

Last year’s race was won by Lewis Hamilton who also set the best time in qualifying with a lap of 1:07.922. Max Verstappen finished second while Kimi Räikkönen grabbed the lowest position of the podium.