Teams and drivers are just hours away from the season-opening Austrian Grand Prix that finally kicks off the coronavirus-delayed 2020 FIA Formula One World Championship.
The first time – It will be the first time today that a Formula 1 season has started in Austria. It will also be the first time that a race is hosted without the attendance of fans.
Long history – Today’s race will the 33rd Austrian Grand Prix. The first race in Austria was held in 1964 on a circuit at the Zeltweg Air Base. Due to its nature with trees close to the track, the Zeltweg track quickly disappeared from the F1 calendar. Constructed close by, the Österreichring made its calendar debut 50 years ago in 1970 and hosted the race until 1987. A shortened version of the circuit, named the A1-Ring, was used between 1997 and 2003, and now called the Red Bull Ring, the track has hosted the race since 2014.
The most successful - Alain Prost is the most successful driver at the Austrian Grand Prix with victories for Renault in 1983 and then McLaren in 1985 and 1986. After winning in 2018 and 2019, Max Verstappen could match Prost’s record if he wins today’s Austrian Grand Prix. McLaren are the most successful constructor at the Austrian Grand Prix with six wins.
Short lap – The current iteration of the Red Bull Ring belongs to the shorter F1 circuit with its length of 4.318km. Drivers will need to circle 71 times around the track to cover the total race distance of 306.452km.
A tiny difference - The start and finish lines are not identical at the Red Bull Ring with a difference of 126m between the two lines.
The Finn – The fastest ever race lap still belongs to Kimi Räikkönen. The 2007 Ferrari F1 world champion set the time of 1m06.957 during the 2018 Austrian Grand Prix to claim the fastest lap of the race with drivers unable to usurp the Finn’s effort last year.
The third highest – The Red Bull Ring is located at 660m above sea level which is the third-highest during the year after the Hermanos Rodriguez track in Mexico and the Carlos Pace circuit in Brazil. The high altitude puts power units under more stress than at many venues and effective cooling of engines is often a headache for teams at this circuit.
Plenty of opportunities – FIA has defined three different DRS zones at the Red Bull Ring in order to provide drivers with plenty of opportunities to execute an overtaking manoeuvre in the 71-lap race. The first has a detection point 160m before Turn 1 with an activation point 102m after Turn 1. The second zone has a detection point 40m before Turn 3 and an activation point 100m after Turn 3. The detection point of the final zone is 120m before Turn 10, while its activation point is 106m after Turn 10.
Fast circuit – The Red Bull Ring, made up of just 10 turns and a sequence of straights, is one of the fastest circuits on the calendar. Drivers spend more than 70 per cent of the lap at full throttle. When it comes to the longevity of the DRS activation, it is also a record-breaker cirucit as the three DRS zones cover more than a third of the circuit.
Safety and costs - The additional yellow kerbs behind the exit kerbs at Turn 9 and Turn 10 have been removed and timing loops have been installed. The governing body has made this decision to reduce the risks of damages to the cars due to the condensed nature of the calendar that puts teams on the limit in terms of spare parts.