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Austrian GP: Track notes, DRS, tyres and more

NEWS STORY
27/06/2019

Ahead of this year's race, a number of changes have been made at the Red Bull Ring.

New drainage has been installed on the left and right sides of the track at Turn 2, on the left before Turn 3, and to the left and right between Turns 3 and 4.

Also, a new concrete wall and debris fence has been installed at Turn 3, while the run-off area at Turn 4 has been reconfigured and extended.

Finally, a concrete surface has been extended at the end of the Turn 3 exit kerb running into Turn 4, at the start of the Turn 7 apex kerb, on both the left and right side kerbs at Turn 8 and at the start of the kerb leading to Turn 9.

As was the case last year, there are 3 DRS zones at Spielberg.

The first has a detection point 160m before Turn 1, with an activation point 102m after Turn 1. The second has a detection point 40m before Turn 3, and an activation point 100m after Turn 3. The detection point of the final zone is 151m before Turn 10, while its activation point is 106m after Turn 10.

Pirelli is bringing the C4s, C3s and C2s, the same combination seen in Australia, China, Azerbaijan and last weekend in France.

The circuit, which returned in the calendar in 2014 in its current guise, consists of 4,318 metres of up and down smooth asphalt. The first two sectors are quite fast whereas the final sector is slower and more technical.

Traction and braking are the main characteristics of the circuit, with corners linked by a series of brief straights. As the lap is so short, traffic is often an issue.

While the weather should be warm in summer, the circuit's proximity to the Northern Styrian Alps increases the possibility of rain or more variable weather. However, last year was hot with track temperatures close to 40 degrees centigrade.

Historically, this has normally been a one-stop race with relatively low levels of tyre wear and degradation. Last year, Red Bull's Max Verstappen won with a one-stop supersoft-soft strategy, but different variations of a one-stopper were seen throughout the top 10. Outside the top 10, some drivers stopped twice.

Most of the corners are right-hand turns, but the two most demanding corners in terms of energy through the tyres are left-handers. Consequently, the loaded tyres go into them almost cold, as they are not otherwise worked hard during the lap. A key to extracting the best lap time will be to maximise the performance of those tyres.

The six drivers from the three top teams have all made different tyre choices from each other: a relatively unusual occurrence, which could lead to some interesting battles and tactics.

In terms of the power unit, the four straights mean the ICE runs at full throttle for over 66% of the lap, comparable with Spa and Monza.

The longest straight is the 790m uphill drag from Turn 1 through to Turn 2. The long straights mean the MGU-H has plenty of opportunity to recover energy to store in the battery. With a lap time of around 70secs, 46secs (or 66% of the lap) is spent at full throttle.

There are only nine corners, which will not give the MGU-K many opportunities to recover significant energy under braking. Engineers will configure the MGU-K to feed the ICE with extra power, thus making efficient use of the little energy recovered.

One other challenge of Austria is the altitude. The circuit is around 700m above sea level, similar to Interlagos, and oxygen content will be around 7% less. The turbo will therefore have to spin at a much higher rate to produce the same amount of power to compensate for the low ambient pressure.

For the majority of the lap, the turbo will be spinning at close to 100,000rpm, or 1,700 times per second.

Check out our Thursday gallery from Spielberg, here.

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