2016 Austrian Grand Prix preview

Austrian Grand Prix 2016

THE DRIVERS ON: THE CIRCUIT

#14 Fernando Alonso

“After the unique demands of the Baku City Circuit, we return to a more conventional racetrack in Austria. It’s a much shorter track than Baku, but it’s still very challenging because you cannot afford to make any mistakes. A lap takes less than 70s, which squeezes the grid closer together and there are only a few tenths of a second between rows. 

“To be fast you need good traction and efficient aero, which we have. For that reason, I hope we can be more competitive than we were in Baku – and I hope to have a longer race than I did last year, which was over on the opening lap!”

#22 Jenson Button

“In many ways, racing in Austria reminds me of my early F1 career. I finished fourth at the track in 2003, and, even then, it had the feeling of a classic grand prix circuit. After an 11-year gap when the race wasn’t on the calendar, we returned there in 2014 and it’s thrown up some exciting races.

“There are only nine corners, which means that every input from within the cockpit needs to be extremely precise, as even the slightest mistake can cost a lot of time. There are a couple of overtaking points, so the racing is always close. I’m looking forward to it.”

CIRCUIT STATS

2015 winnerNico Rosberg 71 laps, 1:30:16.930s
2015 pole positionLewis Hamilton 1m08.455s
2015 fastest lapNico Rosberg 1m11.235s (lap 35)
NameRed Bull Ring
First race1970 (as the Osterreichring)
Circuit length 4.326km/2.688-mile
Distance to Turn One185m
Longest straight 868m, on the approach to Turn One
Top speed310km/h, on the approach to Turn One  
Pitlane length242m, estimated time loss 20s 
Full throttle66 per cent 
DRS zonesTwo, on the approaches to Turns One and Three
Key cornerTurn Nine, a tricky right-hander to end the lap. It has a fast, downhill approach and it’s easy to make a mistake under braking and run wide at the exit. The driver needs to get the power down cleanly because the start-finish straight – the longest period of uninterrupted full throttle – follows
Fastest corner 220km/h, Turn Eight
Slowest corner75km/h, Turn Two
Major changes for 2016Extra kerbing on the exit of Turn One to discourage drivers from running wide
Fuel consumption1.7kg per lap, making it relatively high for a track with only nine corners
ERS demandsHigh. The short lap provides few opportunities to recover the permitted 2mj of energy
Brake wearMedium. There are only three significant braking events
Gear changes54 per lap /3,834 per race

 

CIRCUIT FACTS 

History lesson: 
This is the 30th running of the Austrian Grand Prix. The race has been staged at three different racetracks: Zeltweg Airfield (1964), the Osterreichring (1970-’87) and the Red Bull Ring, nee A1 Ring (1997-’03 and 2014-present). The latter is a re-profiled and shortened version of the majestic Osterreichring.

What makes the track unique: 
It’s the shortest lap of the year in terms of time, with cars circulating in less than 70s.

Grip levels: 
Average. The majority of the asphalt was laid in 1997, when circuit designer Hermann Tilke re-built what used to be the Osterreichring. It’s a smooth and fairly unabrasive track surface, which is relatively undemanding on tyres.

Run-off: 
Plentiful. There is a mix of gravel and asphalt run-off, the asphalt proving quite controversial in recent years because track limits have become a focus of debate.

Watch out for…: 
Turn Two. There is a sharp incline on the approach, which allows the drivers to brake late. It’s an overtaking point and it’s also the scene of many crashes over the years. You may remember the collision between Fernando Alonso and Kimi Raikkonen just after this point on the track in 2015.

EVENT STATS

Start time14:00 local / 13:00 BST
Race distance71 laps (full world championship points will be awarded after 75 percent distance/54 laps)
Safety Car likelihoodLow, due to the large run-off areas. However, there was a six-lap Safety Car period last year after an opening lap pile-up at the exit of Turn 2
When to press recordThe start. There’s a slight incline on the grid, particularly towards the front, and that can create a wide variation in starts. Nico Rosberg beat pole-sitter Lewis Hamilton into Turn 1 last year
Don’t put the kettle onFrom lap 25 onwards, when the one-stoppers will make their only scheduled  pitstops of the race. One-stop was the favoured strategy last year, but the appearance of the ultra-soft tyre in 2016 could shake up strategies
Weather conditions now  30 degrees and sunny
Race forecast26 degrees
Tyre choicesUltrasoft/ Supersoft/ Soft, this combination was last seen at the Canadian Grand Prix

 

EVENT FACTS

First Austrian Grand Prix:
1964.

Slogan
There isn’t one. However, fact-fans, there is a corner named after Jochen Rindt, seen by many as the Godfather of Austrian motorsport.

Austria's F1 heritage 
The Osterreichring, which hosted the Austrian Grand Prix between 1970 and ’87, was one of the fastest and most revered racetracks in the world. It was narrow, undulating and fast, and pole position ahead of its final GP was set at an average speed of 159mph. The current track is situated on the same site, but it’s a more modest challenge as a result of modern safety requirements. There have been many successful Austrian racing drivers, none better than the country’s two world champions, Jochen Rindt and Niki Lauda.

Smallest winning margin 
0.050s, in 1982. Alain Prost’s retirement from the lead with five laps remaining left Elio de Angelis and Keke Rosberg fighting over victory. De Angelis led Rosberg by 1.6s at the start of the last lap, the Finn then closing to within half a car length by the finish.

Sporting legacy
The circuit’s location in the Styrian mountains is a reminder that Austria is a nation of winter sports enthusiasts. It won 17 medals at the Sochi Winter Olympics, including four golds, and the country’s Olympic budget has been increased ahead of Pyeongchang 2018. But motorsport is engrained in the national psyche as well, thanks to the success of drivers like Jochen Rindt, Niki Lauda and Gerhard Berger.

Did you know? 
The Red Bull Ring has an elevation change of 65 metres.

Don’t forget 
McLaren is the most successful constructor at the Austrian Grand Prix, having won the race six times – most recently in 2001. 

Fan zone
Greg, aged 37, from Montreal. “The Red Bull Ring is located 700m above sea level. How does the thinner air affect car performance?”
McLaren’s answer: “There’s been quite an altitude swing in the last two weeks, from 28m below sea level in Baku to 700m above it in Austria. The thinner air means the car generates a little less downforce, but the biggest effect is on the internal combustion element of the power unit. At 700m it will produce about 7% less power, which means the turbo has to work harder to make up the deficit”.

THE DRIVERS ON: THE EVENT

#14 Fernando Alonso

“I enjoy the atmosphere at the Red Bull Ring because the fans are passionate and very knowledgeable. They seem to love anything with an engine and the air displays and motorcycle demonstrations over the weekend are all well received. 

“There have been some great Austrian drivers to whet people’s appetites, one of whom – Niki Lauda – won a world championship with McLaren. Another former McLaren driver, Gerhard Berger, is a good friend of mine. 

“The track isn’t the most technical on the calendar, but it’s still quite demanding because there are some fast corners and you have to be very careful not to make a single mistake for 71 laps. We come prepared and I hope we can have a good weekend.”

#22 Jenson Button

“After three ‘city’ races in Monaco, Montreal and Baku, the Austrian Grand Prix has a very different backdrop. It’s located in a very rural part of Austria, in the heart of the Styrian mountains, with no big cities close by. That gives it an enjoyable, old-school feel.

“After a decent showing in Baku, I’ll be looking to start where I left off next weekend. Like everyone at McLaren-Honda, I’m hungry to score more points; our package is improving race-by-race and I look forward to getting the maximum from it in Austria.”

HEAR FROM THE MANAGEMENT

Eric Boullier
McLaren-Honda Racing Director

“After two long- haul races on consecutive weekends, Formula 1 returns to its European heartland. The Austrian Grand Prix is one of the oldest races on the calendar, it’s an event in which McLaren has enjoyed a lot of success, and it’s a great weekend for the fans.

“After returning from the last two races without a top 10 finish, our immediate aim is to get back into the points. In Canada, Fernando finished 11th, and Jenson achieved the same result in Azerbaijan, neither of which track best suited our car’s characteristics, so we’ll be hoping to do a little better in Austria this weekend.

“We also need to address the reliability issues that accounted for one of our cars in each of the last two races. We’ve been worked hard since we got back to Woking to pin-point the problem and try to ensure that there isn’t a recurrence. On a positive note, all four pitstops conducted by our pit crew in Baku were completed in under 3s, which is an incredible effort.

“Away from the track, we’ve been equally busy. Last week we were delighted to announce a new partnership with Michael Kors, one of several new lifestyle brands associated with McLaren, and we had a significant presence at the Goodwood Festival of Speed, where we ran some classic Formula 1 machinery up the famous hill.

“Now, though, it’s time to focus on the racing again and everyone at McLaren-Honda relishes that challenge.”

Yusuke Hasegawa
Honda R&D Co Ltd Head of F1 Project & Executive Chief Engineer

"The Red Bull Ring is a beautiful technical track, where once you get up the initial uphill section, most of the circuit is a fast downhill with tight corners. It is also one of the shortest races of the year, so once the lights go out, it becomes an intense battle for the drivers and engineers to strategise and adapt quickly throughout the race.

“The track is somewhat power-hungry but we have confirmed that our new turbo's efficiency helped the team in both Montreal and Baku. We hope to manage our ERS to suit the undulating nature of the track, so we can again fight for points in Sunday's race."