Osterreichring revival excites Mercedes duo

2016 Austrian Grand Prix

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Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg are enthusiastic about a proposal to restore part of the original Osterreichring layout which was used in the early years of the Austrian Grand Prix.

“That’s the best news I’ve probably heard in Formula One for a long time”, said Hamilton when asked about the plan to restore a stretch of the old track between the current turns one and two.

“They’re going to take a track back to what it should be or what it was previously. The track is nice as it is now but I’ve not seen the old track but I can imagine going up into the mountains and into the woods it’s going to be epic so I really hope they do that personally.”

Rosberg was also keen on a return to the classic track. “I just watched the video from 1982, one of the closest finishes with my dad finishing second and definitely it looks very exciting so yeah, if they do that, cool.”

The original 5.9-kilometre circuit was built in 1969. It extended out from turn one in a large loop with fast sweeping turns that tested the talents of both man and machine.

An accident which claimed the life of American driver Mark Donohue in 1975 led to changes to reduce speeds through the fastest corners. Formula One continued to race on the track until 1987. The track was later remodelled by Hermann Tilke and returned to the championship in 1997.

2016 Austrian Grand Prix

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    Chris Turner
    Being pelted by rain on his first visit to an F1 race at the 1998 British Grand Prix wasn't enough to dim Chris's passion...

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    7 comments on “Osterreichring revival excites Mercedes duo”

    1. I’m happy with the current layout, so I don’t think it’s really necessary to revert to the old longer layout.

    2. I have questions for knowledgeable people on track design. Very hard to phrase for me, so the questions may be rough and possibly contradictory in nature, due to quite limited knowledge on my part. Example: I myself, totally understand safety. Yet, I might ask a question which contradicts safety without realising why. I also have an awareness of track accessibility for medical staff and airlift choppers for life threatening incidents. Track runoffs where applicable within reason, also understood. Sometimes track layout for different series can be a factor also?

      To give F1 Fanatic an idea, my favorite tracks, past and present are Hungaroring, Suzuka, Old Silverstone 1990, Old Hockenheim long say 1991 or so, Valencia, Interlagos, Gilles Villeneuve.

      Track I respect, Spa, off the top of my head. It’s not my favorite but I see a certain flow to Spa.

      The old Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez, Peraltada was eliminated. Why is it unsafe by todays standards? Was it the same concern the FIA had at Catalunya when adding turns 13,14,15? To slow the cars down to acceptable levels before going on to the straight or am I not correct here or is there even more?

      What are the dangers to gradual variations of elevation changes at certain points going around the track? Could an elevation change in a wrong part of a circuit make cars more prone, however slight, go airborne?

      One of the newer circuits I somewhat like is COTA . A problem with COTA imo, too much runoff. Why not shorten runoffs and use gravel traps that punish mistakes? You would not kill a runoff completely. FIA could determine reasonable runoff, then use gravel.

      Any clarifications and attempts to educate me more is appreciated.

      1. @jabosha The issue they had with Peraltada was the lack of runoff & the inability to be able to increase the runoff due to public roads. They also had issue with the narrowness of the circuit as well as the poor visibility through the corner due to the wall’s on either side.
        Modern F1 cars would be going through there at 180mph+ so anyone making a mistake or having something fail was going to be a massive accident & with the slight banking there was the possibility of that car bouncing off the wall into the middle of the track where the poor visibility through the corner on top of the speed would make it tricky for cars behind to see & avoid the car. Champcar had the same issue when they raced there from 2002-2007.

        The chicane they added at Barcelona was part for safety (They were never happy with the angle of the barrier on the exit which Montermini hit in 1994) but mostly as it was hoped a slow corner would generate more overtaking possibilities down the straight as it was impossible to follow another car close through the old final 2 corners which hindered overtaking down the straight.

        With regards to elevation change; the concerns surrounding that are not so much about F1 but some other categories where cars have been known to take off over crest’s. They shaved the top of the flugplatz at the nordschleife earlier this year after a GT3 car took off over it last year & killed a spectator after it went over the fence. The old Mulsanne hump at Le mans was flattened down over a decade ago after the Mercedes flips there in 1999 (As well as others in the past) & I believe they did the same to a rise down the back stretch at Road Atlanta after 2 separate flips there in the ALMS series.
        Not too long ago there was a flip at the top of Eau Rouge that resulted in a car clearing the fence & going off into the tree’s after suffering a tyre failure at just the wrong moment.

        In terms of runoff, One issue is that different categories like/require different things & different types of runoff are better suited to certain corners & certain situations.
        A downside with gravel was that in certain situations it would cause cars to flip (See Alonso at Melbourne this year) & at other times at high speed cars would simply skip over it & not lose any speed (Schumacher at Silverstone in 1999 or Villeneuve’s 2 crashes at Eau Rouge been examples of that). There was also a case like Burti’s crash at Spa in 2001 where the grass/gravel broke the steering which took out the brakes & was felt to have made the resulting accident worse than it would have been if it was tarmac.

        The tarmac runoff was introduced as it was seen as an overall safer solution, It would give drivers extra room to gather up an off or slow the car down before hitting a wall. On top of that other categories prefer tarmac over gravel as it makes recovering a spun car easier, Things like LMP/GT/touring/nascar for example tend to dig in & get stuck which makes them harder to recover (See the Porsche supercar race at Barcelona this year for a recent example) which can result in more frequent & longer caution periods.
        Motorcycle categories also tend to prefer tarmac over gravel as the bikes/riders tend to dig in & flip/tumble around when they get into the gravel (Which makes injuries such as broken bones more likely) while they usually just slide across the tarmac which is considered a bit safer.

        The reason you sometimes see a mix of grass, tarmac & gravel is because circuits are trying to come up with something that pleases everyone & meets everyone’s safety standards.

        In terms of the size of some of the runoff, Its purely a safety thing. Be it tarmac or gravel the larger the runoff the more speed a car/bike is hopefully going to scrub off before it gets to a barrier.

        1. @GT Racer

          Thank you for the time you have taken to educate me with your magnificent reply. Thank you.

      2. “Why not shorten runoffs and use gravel traps that punish mistakes?”

        This is not something you can do. Aside from other comments about how, in most circumstances tarmac runoffs slow you down as well as gravel does, and a lot more safely:

        Big accidents happen. Corners with limited runoff exist, and in general can be tolerated as the reality, due to a variety of constraints. But if you shorten a runoff area to less than it could have been in order to make things more “exciting” — you are to blame for anything bad that happens due to that. Rightly so, it’s grossly negligent. Similarly if you ignore an obvious safety flaw such as an unprotected concrete wall at a severe angle to the circuit.

        For the record, there are times where reducing the amount of runoff is a safety improvement. One recent example of this is on the exit of the penultimate corner at Bathurst, where there used to be a deep gravel trap and a tyre wall behind it. But the wall needed to come back to the track’s edge due to a bridge crossing the track, and it did so at a severe angle, causing some very, very nasty accidents, most notably this sickening one: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Gea3nuWrsvw

        While this particular accident could have been less severe had there been further layers of tyres at the barrier there, which were added the next year, the fundamental problem was the angle of the wall, and this was due to the runoff area before it. No-one had ever actually made much use of the gravel trap in any case. They ended up realising that having zero runoff would be safer, so there is now a wall right beside the track — tyres if you go off at a severe angle, concrete for small angle impacts.

    3. We’ve still yet to see a plan of what the western loop would take which is a shame. We know the start/ finish straight would be a bit longer (much needed) and then take a new left-right chicane where there was once a right-left right-left one. I’d presume the next curving, uphill straight would be kept but then there’s no way the long right-hander at the top of the hill would be retained. Maybe another chicane will be added, or a couple of tighter corners will replace it like at the current Jochen Rindt curves. Them it looks like there will be another type of chicane to rejoin at the current turn 2. Today’s circuit is great but just too short so an extension might be able to push it closer it’s fearsome Osterreichring past, as well as to today’s Spa-Francorchamps. Bring it on.

      1. @unicron2002 That is pretty much what is likely to happen.

        As I understand it the plan to use the western loop is been considered more so they can hold WEC races at the venue rather than something there doing with F1 in mind, But once they have renovated the extension it would then be something they would also use for F1.

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