2017 Austrian Grand Prix track preview

2017 Austrian Grand Prix

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Officially the Red Bull Ring is a ten-turn circuit. Realistically there are just seven, making this one of the simplest layouts on the calendar. In terms of lap time, it’s also the shortest.

Track data: Red Bull Ring

Lap length 4.326km (2.688 miles)
Grand prix distance 307.02km (190.773 miles)
Lap record (race) 1’08.337 (Michael Schumacher, 2003)
Fastest lap (any session) 1’06.228 (Lewis Hamilton, 2016, qualifying two)
Tyre compounds See drivers’ choices
2016 Rate the Race 8.1 out of 10
2016 Driver of the Weekend Pascal Wehrlein

Red Bull Ring track data in full

This was one of the first circuits to be redesigned by Hermann Tilke, ahead of its return to the calendar in 1997. The generous asphalt run-offs at several points on the track have led to many complaints about corner-cutting.

Last year the race organisers attempted to solve the by installing new kerbs at several points on the circuit. Some of these were blamed for Daniil Kvyat’s high-speed crash during qualifying.

As well as being one of the quicker layouts on the schedule the track surface is fairly abrasive. That plus Pirelli’s decision to bring its softest tyres should mean tyre strategy plays a greater role at this race than it has so far this year. However 12 months ago Sebastian Vettel’s race was ruined when a tyre blew while he was leading.

One of the biggest challenges for the teams in terms of set-up is ensuring their hybrid power units are able to supply all the power they need on a short track with limited opportunities to generate energy. This will be even more difficult in 2017 as the new generation of cars should be able to run at full throttle for longer.

The hybrid boost is especially important on the long uphill drag to turn three. DRS is not available here, unlike the straights before and after it, so drivers must ensure they keep enough energy in reserve to his top speed and not fall prey to attacking rivals.

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A lap of the Red Bull Ring

“It’s a short track with not too many corners,” says Nico Hulkenberg, who took a surprise front row start for Force India last year. “It’s important not to get a false impression as it’s still very challenging and technical.”

The first corner is a sharp but quick 90-degree bend. The run-off here is far less forgiving than it used to be, making it difficult for drivers to get on the power as soon as they’d like for the following straight.

Tricky pit lane entrance at turns nine and ten
As the drivers reach the tight turn three the track levels off and the camber changes. A DRS detection point is on the approach to this corner, and DRS can be activated at the exit for the approach to turn four. These slow corners separated by long straights tend to see a lot of action, particularly in the opening lap.

The drivers brake from high speed again at turn four but this time the track is falling away from them and the corner opens up at the exit. After the point-and-squirt start to the lap the track now opens up and flows more like the classic Osterreichring.

After the acceleration zone of turn five the drivers tackle a pair of bends which should be substantially quicker with the new, high-downforce cars. The run-off here is less forgiving too – grass and gravel instead of asphalt.

Following turn seven the drivers crest a brow and drop back towards the final two bends. Both are short, quick corners. The pit lane entrance appears between the two of them and drivers heading in must take care not to cross the line. The second DRS detection point is also here, giving drivers the chance to deploy it on the start/finish straight.

2017 Austrian Grand Prix

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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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27 comments on “2017 Austrian Grand Prix track preview”

  1. Have trouble driving this circuit through the middle sector in f1 2016. This track does not seem to suit late brakers..

    1. @krichelle Have you tried upping the Brake Pressure? its a good track for bite-heavy brakes, try it a 85% or more. I does increase your tyre wear though.

    2. From my hours in the basement playstation Poang, trail-braking into 2 and 3 is basically impossible. The cars tend to understeer right off.

  2. Unicron (@unicron2002)
    5th July 2017, 12:55

    Love it, one of my favourite circuits. Beautiful setting, some quick corners… although the straights always seem to run out before you want them to.

    I’ll be looking out on the helicopter shots for the new developments on the old Western Loop like the new left-right chicane beyond the current Turn 1. Will we get to see it raced on in the future I wonder….

    1. Completely agree. It proves that a great circuit does not need to be a pastiche of great corners, but rather something that works as a whole. It also proves that once upon a time (before losing his set of french curves), Tilke could respectfully modernise a classic track.

      1. Disagree because l remember the original, now that was a circuit with character

        1. Fair enough. I think we would all still like the original circuit, but given the brief I think Tilke didn’t do a bad job for once.

  3. A vote for short tracks. Spectators see the cars more, there is less empty track, more lapped traffic for the leaders. I don’t know why F1 tracks have become so long in the last generation. Maybe this is a U.S. bias, where Elkhart or Watkins Glen are “long” circuits and there are more shortish street circuits.

    1. @dmw, in this particular case, it is in part because the narrowness of the track has caused a lot of problems with accidents in the past, which is why this circuit fell out of favour for some time.

      In 2003, there were three restarts after several cars kept hitting problems on the grid – and even when they did finally start the race, they had to spend the opening laps under a safety car so the marshals could remove Jos’s stricken car, which was stuck on the start-finish straight.

      As a corollary to that, having a very short circuit length does have the downside that it makes it much harder for marshals to recover broken down cars on track, since they have less time to get to it before the cars come round again.

      1. The narrow tracks are often the most spectacular to view, certainly on tv

  4. deMercer (@)
    5th July 2017, 15:14

    Officially the Red Bull Ring is a nine-turn circuit. Realistically there are just seven…

    The official F1-site states that the number of corners of the circuit is 10?!? (Need to Know: Austria)

    1. Some track maps show the tiny kink in the road after turn 9 as being turn 10.

      1. deMercer (@)
        5th July 2017, 17:02

        Just read another article that explains the difference between the numbering of the corners this year and before: F1 alters numbering system for Red Bull Ring corners. There is now a “new” corner between the old numbers 1 and 2.

        1. Tommy Scragend
          5th July 2017, 22:59

          How on earth is that kink a “turn”? The Kemmel straight at Spa kinks just as much as that.

          Is it just to bump up the official number of corners, because it just wouldn’t do to have a circuit with a single figure number of corners, would it?

          1. deMercer (@)
            6th July 2017, 10:45

            What I know, is that MotoGP – racing at the circuit since 2016 – used the ’10 corners’-scheme, and that from this year the FIA uses that too. But why MotoGP used a new ’10 corners’-scheme in 2016 instead of the “old”, existing FIA ‘9 corners’-scheme I don’t know.

        2. Michael Brown (@)
          6th July 2017, 0:31

          David Coulthard would call that a “positioner”

  5. I too like this track. It will be interesting to see how this year’s SS tyres will perform on this track, which is rather more abrasive than the others before it. Will it favour Merc or Ferrari?

    1. since ferrari had to stop burning oil as fuel, i suspect that their competiveness with mercedes will recede.

      1. baku would suggest not by too much

      2. I thought the oil issue (If it was relevant at all in the first pace) applied only to qualifying? At Baku, the Ferrari’s race pace was quite competitive to the two Mercs.

  6. This track always makes me reflect that there isn’t a definite formula for what makes a good circuit. On the face of it, there’s nothing to suggest that this layout should even be on the calendar, yet it consistently produces interesting racing.

  7. Those cars should be unreal fast in the middle sector.

  8. One of those tracks where you could just sit watching cars go though T5/6/7 for hours without end. Going to Spa for the nth time this year, and Monza for the first time. This one is on the agenda for next year, together with a couple of weeks of hiking.

  9. I believe work has begun on refurbishing the old section of track that runs to the east of the current circuit, roughly parallel to the straight between turns 1 and 2. see here – https://www.google.com/maps/place/Red+Bull+Ring/@47.2225495,14.7581493,1123m/data=!3m1!1e3!4m5!3m4!1s0x0:0xc879add4ea5c7884!8m2!3d47.2202441!4d14.7648476 This would extend the track by quite a bit.

    1. Duh! The old section runs to the West….

  10. Michael Brown (@)
    6th July 2017, 0:35

    Bitter memories for me on this track as in one sim I lost a comfortable lead and my championship challenge when I put it in the gravel in turn 5

  11. As you may have seen the FIA now considers the kink before what was turn two as a corner as well, so the graphic and article have been revised accordingly.

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