2016 Austrian Grand Prix track preview

2016 Austrian Grand Prix

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At 4.3 kilometres and with a record lap time of less than 68 seconds, the Red Bull Ring ranks among the shortest circuits used by Formula One.

And with a fresh, smooth layer of asphalt in place this year, and ultra-soft tyres among the selection this weekend, it’s possible we could see some seriously quick record-breaking laps this weekend.

The layout is straightforward not not un-challenging. In particular the second half of the lap features long, medium-to-high speed corners bordered by gravel traps ready to catch the drivers out. That plus an enthusiastic Austrian crowd makes this compact course an F1 favourite.

A lap of the Red Bull Ring

Track data: Red Bull Ring

Lap length4.326km (2.688 miles)
Grand prix distance307.02km (190.773 miles)
Lap record (race)1’08.337 (Michael Schumacher, 2003)
Fastest lap (any session)1’07.908 (Michael Schumacher, 2003, qualifying one)
Tyre compoundsSee drivers’ choices
2015 Rate the Race5.6 out of 10
2015 Driver of the WeekendNico Hulkenberg

Red Bull Ring track data in full

The opening right-hander is quicker than it looks, inviting drivers to get on the power early in time for the steep climb that follows. However they must take care not to cheat the track at the exit, as Esteban Gutierrez explains.

“They put this sausage kerb there which doesn’t allow us to cross a lot,” he said, “so it’s a little bit like a street circuit where you don’t have a lot of margin to play on the exit kerb.”

One of the circuit’s two DRS zones is on the start/finish straight and has its own detection point before the final corner. Out of turn one the drivers have a long, flat-out drag without the assistance of DRS, but they pass another detection point as they approach turn two.

The uphill slope allows drivers to brake deep for this low-speed corner. At the exit DRS is available again but the run into turn three is tricky and downhill. The exit of the corner opens up but here the drivers have a gravel trap to contend with if they run wide.

The character of the circuit changes through the next few corners. “You approach turn four and turn five, which are the two fast corners on the left, which I enjoy a lot,” says Gutierrez. “I love them.”

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“You enter into turn four and it’s a blind corner. You exit using all the curbs, preparing for the next corner, which basically makes it one corner altogether – a very, very fast one.”

The lap ends with a pair of quick right-handers. The second of these – turn nine – previously featured a significant bump, though it remains to be seen where the resurfacing has eased that challenge for the F1 drivers.

They must also be wary of running wide through these latter corners, as in recent years the stewards have deleted drivers’ fastest lap times for straying wide of the track boundaries.

2016 Austrian Grand Prix

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Author information

Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

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17 comments on “2016 Austrian Grand Prix track preview”

  1. interesting to see how close the fastest lap time of any session is to the race record lap in 2003, only 4 tenths. I don’t necessarily think those days were better when it comes to the show, but at least the drivers were racing to the limit in the actual race, not nursing fuel, tires and engines.

    1. Watching Schumacher’s lap record (the 1:07 lap) from 2003 is also interesting because of how badly he abused track limits at turn 1 and turn 9, though he arguably lost time in turn 9. That lap wouldn’t stand now but drivers routinely ran wide back then and no one batted an eyelid.

  2. When I spoke to GP3 driver Kevin Jörg a few weeks ago, he had just had a test at the Red Bull Ring. According to him, they new asphalt made it very difficult to warm up the tyres and get them in the optimal temperature. They only have Soft Tyres available in GP3, so the Super-Soft and Ultra-Soft may not be as much of a problem to get up to temperature, but still, it could be a factor for qualifying and the race, especially for the supporting races.

  3. Wish the placing of DRS in toher circuits is like in here. Not on the longest straights but on the medium-length straights

  4. I’ve got a feel we are for a good F1 weekend. Not only it should be fast but I can see Ferrari fighting for the win on pure pace with Mercedes.

  5. With three long drag strips, I see this as another opportunity for FI and Williams to shine. Ferrari will be forced to pass a couple of these cars to even get into the podium, because they don’t have enough power on tap for Saturdays. By that time, MB will have lapped half the field. Of course, Hamilton and/or Rosberg could mess up Saturday again. That’s why we run the race.

    1. Have a feeling Williams missed out last race, think Williams and force India might be fighting for 3Rd, Redbull will also have a role to play maybe then ferrari.

  6. A good onboard description of the lap from Danny Ric here –


  7. No tilke, no asphalt run off, no stop n go corners…

    I like it. Might work well.

    1. Erm, Tilke is the man behind the new circuit.

    2. @jureo, apart from the tarmac run off zones at Turns 1, 3, 8 and 9?

  8. One of my favourite tracks on the calendar by a long way. The short lap gives it a unique feeling, and it’s a very high speed layout with a couple of big braking zones to provide the overtaking spots. I think it provides everything we need for a good race, and I’m really looking forward to seeing if Ferrari or Red Bull can take the fight to the Mercedes, or even if the Williams and Force India guys can take advantage and pull out a big result.

  9. I thought they were changing the layout, first corner?

    1. Next year, maybe. They are planning to restore an old Westschleife section and join it to current layout . Unfortunately, that isn’t oficialy confirmed yet for 2017.

      1. Ah, thanks. looking at the overhead photo i don’t see how they could do it without including the whole western section.

  10. Really miss the old layout, one of my favorite. However this is still a decent track and a race I always enjoy.

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