When Formula One outgrew the circuit, a plan was drawn up to extend the layout. Parts of the circuit, including the pits and main grandstand, were demolished, but construction work was stopped and the circuit remained unusable for several years before it was purchased by Red Bull's Dietrich Mateschitz and rebuilt. Renamed the Red Bull Ring the track was reopened on 15 May 2011 and subsequently hosted a round of the 2011 DTM season and a round of the 2011 F2 championship. Formula One will return to the circuit in the 2014 season.
It is essentially the same layout as the old (A1 Ring) circuit, very simple with just nine corners, four flat out stretches where the cars hit 300km/h and a very short lap time of around 68 seconds. Most teams have only simulations to go on and some of the details which will be important to deciding race strategy – such as the exact pit lane length and pit stop time – will be measured and worked out during practice on Friday. It looks similar to Canada in terms of the amount of energy and loading going into the tyres, so Pirelli has brought the same soft and supersoft tyres and it predicts a two stop strategy to be the default for the race.
Track length : 4.326 kilometers
Race distance : 71 laps (full world championship points awarded after 75 per cent distance/54 laps)
Run to Turn One : 185 metres
Longest straight : 868m, on the approach to Turn One
Corners : 9 corners in total. A circuit made up of four straights and a few tight corners
Aerodynamic setup : Medium/High downforce
Top speed : 315km/h (with Drag Reduction System active on rear wing) – 304km/h without
Full throttle : 70% of the lap (high), 10 seconds unbroken full throttle on main straight
Fuel consumption : High
Time spent braking : 14% of lap (high), 7 braking zones
Brake wear : High
Total time needed for pit stop at 80km/h (est) : 22 seconds
Did you know?
Jochen Rindt was F1’s first German-born world champion. He was born in Mainz, Germany, but was raised in Graz after his parents were killed in a World War II bombing raid. He took Austrian nationality and became the sport’s only posthumous world champion in 1970 when he was killed at the Italian Grand Prix.
The track is located in the Styrian mountains, so the weather conditions can change quickly. Although rain is expected during the coming three days at the Red Bull Ring, current forecasts indicate it will arrive overnight on Friday and most likely won’t interfere with the following day’s running at the track.
Friday is likely to be the pick of the three days at the circuit near Knittelfeld in the Styrian countryside. It offers the best chance of seeing some sunshine and temperatures could exceed 20C.
Slightly cooler conditions are expected for qualifying and the race – Sunday could see the mercury struggle to get far above 16C. With the soft and super-soft tyres allocated for this weekend, lower temperatures may aid tyre life but could make graining a problem, as it was for those who started the race on the super-soft tyre last year.
The Austrian Grand Prix, which returns to Formula 1 this weekend, will feature two DRS zones. Controlled by separate detection points, governing body the FIA has decided to place the two activation areas along the start/finish straight and between the Remus and Schlossgold corners of the Red Bull Ring circuit.
For the third race in succession, the P Zero Yellow soft and P Zero Red supersoft tyres have been nominated. The demands on the tyres are relatively low, with two straights and reasonably slow corners. The Austrian Grand Prix reappeared on the Formula One calendar for the first time in 11 seasons last year, meaning that the teams will now be able to use the data from 2014 when it comes to formulating the optimal strategy. After the Austrian Grand Prix, the final two-day in-season test of the year will take place on Tuesday and Wednesday.
The surface at the Red Bull Ring is low grip and low abrasion, with the track getting progressively quicker as the weekend goes on. Even though the asphalt is new, the track is quite bumpy in places, which makes it difficult to find consistent grip. Last year most drivers did a two-stopper, although three managed a one-stop. Race winner Nico Rosberg (Mercedes) started on the supersoft, changed to the soft on lap 11, then to the soft again on lap 40. His strategy allowed him to win even though he started from third on the grid.
Expected performance gap between the two compounds: 0.7 - 0.9 seconds per lap.
Last year’s Austrian Grand Prix weekend showed that even in hyper-professional Formula One, mistakes can be made – several slip-ups by Lewis Hamilton in qualifying compromised his and Nico Rosberg’s run in Q3 and opened the door for Williams to lock out the front row of the grid. That set up an intriguing race as the Mercedes drivers set about prising the lead from the hands of Felipe Massa and Valtteri Bottas.
Twelve months on, no one has beaten Mercedes to a pole position since. But Williams and Ferrari could be a more competitive proposition this weekend, and the Red Bull Ring’s compact layout often serves to lessen the performance gap between cars.
And I fully expect Lewis Hamilton to hammer his advantage into Rosberg's head once again on this power track.
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