F1: 2016 Austrian GP Preview – Renault Sport

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F1: 2016 Austrian GP Preview – Renault Sport




The last three races have been harder than expected, possibly more difficult than we anticipated at the start of the year. However nothing changes our long-term objectives; we just need to re-assess how we get to them in the short and mid-term. We have already introduced our power unit upgrade and we know that this is one of the strongest parts of the car at present. We have also taken some steps in mechanical grip and balance and both drivers are happier with the car behaviour. With our strengths identified, it is much easier to work on our weaknesses. In particular we need to target improvements in qualifying and aero, and we have a plan for both of these areas . Every race is an opportunity to learn more and to keep taking those steps to be where we want to be by the end of the season.

Cyril Abiteboul



Fred Vasseur

Austria should be better for a variety of reasons.

Racing Director Fred Vasseur reviews the first GP in Baku and anticipates an improved performance in the hills of Austria.

Azerbaijan appeared to be another tough weekend for the team, but you seemed quite upbeat after the event. What were the positives?

The weekend was difficult, especially qualifying, and we have to recognise that we didn’t get it quite right. We did however recover in the race. While our race performance wasn’t excellent, it was more or less in line with our objectives and expectations. We have to thank both the team and the drivers for keeping their heads down, but now we need to get back to a situation where we are in a position to score points and this includes doing better in qualifying. Baku was a bit of a one-off though; a street track that was very quick and everyone experienced problems. When we go back to something more traditional, we need to find our rhythm from the start of the weekend from qualifying through to the race.

As you say, qualifying seems to be the team’s Achilles Heel at the moment. What deductions have you made about this and how will you address it?

I think Baku was just a one-off. If you look back to Barcelona, this is more representative of where we are. We need to manage the weekend well from the start to the finish, making the right strategic decisions to have an approach that is more global and consistent between Saturday and Sunday.

The drivers hustled the car round the track – are you happy with their performance and attitude?

The job is harder when you have weekends like Baku, but the drivers are part of the group, just like the engineers and mechanics, and know what they need to do to have a strong weekend. In Baku they did a good job to fight with the other teams and motivation should not drop just because we have had two hard weekends. I have confidence in them and we need to get a dynamic to get into the groove right from the start of the event.

Austria is a fast, flowing track – do you think this type of track suits the R.S.16 better than the tighter street tracks?

Yes, we suffered in the slow corners in Canada and Baku. Austria should be better for a variety of reasons. I think we are making progress as a team and I hope we can move forward race after race on the more traditional circuits towards the level of performance we saw pre-Monaco.



Kevin Magnussen


Austria is my type of country and it’s my type of circuit.


After a trio of street courses it’s back to a permanent track with the picturesque Austrian Grand Prix, something Kevin Magnussen is particularly looking forward to.


How are you looking forward to the Austrian Grand Prix?

I’m particularly looking forward to it. Austria is more my type of country, with the fresh air and mountains. It’s great to be away from a city for a Grand Prix and the circuit itself is really good. It’s small, but it’s high speed. It has a really nice flow and there are good opportunities for overtaking – like into turn two. I like it.


You’ve raced there before; what were your thoughts?

I had a decent race and qualifying there in 2014 so there’s nothing bad I can say about it. I’m headed there in a very positive frame of mind and I can’t wait to get out in action.


How do you sum-up your Baku weekend?

We learned a lot in Baku. We tried a variety of set-ups and did make progress in our understanding of the car. My car wasn’t too bad in the race and we made the best of our opportunities. Obviously, we all want stronger results but we all knew this would be a tough season where we’d have to dig deep and work hard. Ultimately we’re here for the long term.





Jolyon Palmer

We should be more on it in Austria, which is a faster circuit and should suit our car a lot better.

After a tough weekend in Baku, Jolyon looks forward to the challenges of the high-speed Red Bull Ring.

How would you review Baku, one week on?

Actually I feel very positive about the overall Baku weekend, even though I don’t have a lot to show for it! The yellow flags in qualifying cost us a lot and then I made some mistakes in the race. The crux of my problems came in turn one: I got a good start, but then locked up and flat spotted the tyres under braking for the corner. This meant I had to do another pit stop, without which I think we could have been a bit higher up and ahead of both Haas cars. But on the whole the car was OK and we are making progress.

Austria: climb every mountain, ford every stream?

Yes, I’m looking forward to getting back into the European heartland. Unfortunately we were not that competitive in Baku but we should be more on it in Austria, which is a faster circuit and should suit our car a lot better.

Do you enjoy racing on the track?

The Red Bull Ring is quite a simple track, with just seven corners. Putting a good lap together is very important as the lap times are very close and any mistake can really hurt. I like that though, as the driver can make more of a difference. There are some bumpy zones and some overtaking possibilities, such as turn one and turn two. There are some fast corners as well, including the second-last corner that is pretty quick. Then the last corner has a bit of camber and you need to carry the speed through. I raced there in 2014 in GP2 and I drove in FP1 last year. It’s a lot more fun in an F1 car as there are more straightlines and the tyre deg is very low so we can be flat out the whole race.



Bob Bell


It’s good to leave the city


After a trio of tracks that have not played to the R.S.16’s strengths, Chief Technical Officer Bob Bell looks to the permanent circuit in Austria to enable more pleasurable performance.


What’s the outlook for Austria?

It’s an important race for us as the low-speed corner circuit layouts we’ve seen recently haven’t suited us. Austria’s much more in the R.S.16’s comfort zone. We left the Barcelona test feeling quite positive, and since then we’ve added the positive step of the B specification engine, but the circuits we’ve visited subsequently have really caused our progress to falter; that’s something we must address.


What are the challenges in Spielberg?

It’s an interesting track. It has a relatively smooth surface so tyre warm-up could be a bit of an issue, and it’s cooler as it’s higher, which also has a small effect on the engine. Average corner speed is a bit higher, and there are not so many corners. It does have some high speed content so you want a car that also has good high speed balance. This higher speed content should suit us; as we’ve seen from the previous three races we do have a weakness in the low speed corners so it’s good to get away from them!


Any other areas to be aware of?

Despite a higher speed, it is actually quite heavy on brakes, so you have to be vigilant with brake temperatures and ensure sufficient cooling. We’ve been quite aggressive with our tyre selection, opting for the ultrasoft tyre and we’re predicting that it’s likely to be a one, possibly two stop race.


Why has the R.S.16 struggled with low speed corners?

It’s partly a function of downforce, and that simply goes back to development time. We’re also looking at braking stability, so front locking into a slow corner has an impact on pace. For entry instability taking out front wing helps, but then the playoff is more mid-corner understeer possibly driving snappiness on exit. Traction’s another challenge. These are things we can fine-tune with weight distribution and mechanical balance for example, but ultimately the more downforce you have the more these type of issues go away.


Thoughts on Baku?

Qualifying was clearly not great. We made some relatively large changes in set-up to try to get a handle on some of the challenges at what was a very distinct circuit; it wasn’t a case of fine tuning. Jolyon liked the set-up he used for qualifying – this was softer to enable the car to ride the bumps and kerbs better which was an area where we’d been weak at the start of the weekend. The playoff however was that the car then becomes somewhat lazy in change of direction so it doesn’t feel as sharp. Kevin wasn’t so happy with his car after qualifying and went for a stiffer set-up for the race which he preferred. We learnt a lot on the set-up possibilities and which direction we need to go.


It was a pretty aggressive strategy from Kevin with an early single pit stop then a long second stint on the soft tyre?

It was an aggressive strategy but one that delivered better than the alternative. If we’d managed to get a few more quick laps from Kevin’s soft tyres we could have been just off the points.


Did the race play out as expected?

Looking at the GP2 Series races and the Formula 1 sessions it was a reasonable expectation that there could be safety car periods and certainly more retirements than we actually saw. Our drivers perhaps erred on the side of caution to ensure they were there at the end of the race and benefit from any over exuberance elsewhere. This could have worked well, however it looks like the rest of the grid were following the same philosophy so we didn’t see the race we expected in that regard.



Circuit notes

The fast Red Bull Ring places very high demands on the brakes and power unit. The 4.326km lap is comprised principally high speed, flowing turns interspersed with slow speed corners that require good traction. The track produces the shortest overall lap time of the year, with drivers negotiating it in just over 70secs.

T1 – Long straight and uphill aspect will make strong demands on the power unit with T1 a reasonably quick and challenging right-hander at the end of the straight.

T2 – Undulating longest straight on the track with heavy braking into T2.

T3 – Another decent straight with downhill relatively fast T3 at the end. This corner has an interesting camber to challenge the drivers.

T8 – Flat out curve heading towards T8. Both T7 and T8 are fast and not too challenging corners – the trick is to maintain speed through this section to ensure highest speeds on the following straight.


Power Unit notes

The circuit consists of four long straights, meaning the ICE runs at full throttle for over 60% of the lap. This figure is comparable with Spa and Monza. The longest straight is the 800m 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 65% of the lap) is spent at full throttle.


There are only seven corners at the Red Bull Ring, 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.


Tyre choice

Soft : The Tyrolean hat. Good for all weathers and conditions.

Supersoft : Lederhosen – hard wearing, but supple enough to dance around in (if you like that sort of thing).

Ultrasoft : Like a delicate dirndl, only worn on special occasions.

Memory Lane

Jean-Pierre Jabouille claimed his second victory for Renault in the 1980 Austrian Grand Prix. The turbocharged Renaults had dominated qualifying, with both Jabouille and team-mate Rene Arnoux starting on the front row. Jabouille took the lead when Arnoux’ tyres started to heavily degrade and held on to win by just a couple of seconds over Alan Jones.

Quirky facts

The Austrian flag is one of the oldest national flags in the world. It dates from 1191, when Duke Leopold V fought in the Battle of Acre during the Third Crusade.

62% of Austria’s total land area is covered by the Alps. It has 13 peaks above 3,000 metres, and 34 above 2,000 metres.

Vienna’s Central Cemetry has over 2.5 million tombs – including those of Beethoven, Brahms, Schubert and Strauss – more than the city’s present population.

Yodelling has been measured at 92 decibels. A Formula 1 car peaks at 140 decibels.


Renault Sport Academy Roundup


Last weekend there was one RSA driver in race action with Oliver Rowland in Baku, this weekend it’s the turn of Louis Deletraz and Sun Yue Yang to take to the track. The Austrian Grand Prix weekend meanwhile will see Oliver, Kevin Joerg and Jack Aitken out in action.


Oliver Rowland

Baku saw Oliver impress in both races although the result came in race one.


“Baku was a new track for everyone and what proved to be a real challenge! Qualifying went reasonably well and I was starting P6 for the main race. I finished fourth but was slightly disappointed as the last safety car prevented me from being able to challenge for second. In the second race I got up into the lead from P4 at one point but a small (lock-up on cold tyres!) mistake cost me two positions. There was a big confusion at the last safety car re-start and I ended up being hit at Turn 1 putting me out of the race which was disappointing. However we showed great speed and there were many positives.”


After a couple of days training in Enstone, Oliver will be in action at the Goodwood Festival of Speed driving the fabulous Clio R.S.16 before heading to Austria for GP2 Series action (we’re not sure if he’s driving the Clio there…)


Louis Deletraz

Louis will be in action in Round 4 Formula V8 3.5 in Paul Ricard in the south of France. Currently second in the standings, Louis will want to claw back the lead of rival Tom Dillmann.


Kevin Joerg

Started the week with intensive mental training in the French Pyrenees, ended the week in the

DAMS office in Le Mans for simulator and engineering work. Heads to Austria for the second event of the GP3 Series season as part of the Austrian Grand Prix schedule.


Jack Aitken

The build-up to Austria for Jack has seen him in Enstone for training and in the simulator and meetings at Arden in Banbury before he heads to the hills in search of GP3 points in Spielberg.


Sun Yue Yang

This weekend Sun is in action in Round 3 of the FIA-CIK European Karting Championship (OK Category) in Portimao, Portugal.




Renault Sport Formula One Team Test Driver Action


A weekend of disparate results in the GP2 Series in Baku for Sergey and Nicholas; both will want to be scoring well in Austria.


Sergey Sirotikin

Baku saw Sergey secure his best-scoring weekend of the GP2 season with a double podium event from second position in the feature race and a spirited third in the sprint.


“In the first race we were a bit unlucky on the start and with front wing damaged after the first lap, but we managed to overtake many cars always being in right moment in the right place: in the end I finished second, which was a good bonus for us after two very difficult weekends. The second race went quite well straight away, after few laps I already came to second from my seventh grid position, unfortunately it was a bit of a mess on the both Safety Cars restarts where I was slightly overtaken and lost part of my front wing as well, but I managed to overtake some cars back and finished on the podium again in third position.”


Following Baku Sergey was in action in Enstone for a seat fit and F1 Simulator activities. Austria will be the fourth event on the GP2 Series calendar with Sergey looking to secure a further points.



Nicholas Latifi

Baku was a difficult weekend behind the wheel for Nicholas with a first race first corner elimination meaning a start from the back in the sprint race and a fight up to a thirteenth finish.


“It was a good event in terms of results, and it was especially disappointing when you look at the pace we showed in practice and qualifying in Baku. We were always on the back foot, and having not made it past the first corner in the feature race, we had no data to judge how to run the sprint race.”


Ahead of Austria, Nicholas has been to the DAMS workshop in Le Mans to do some post-race analysis of Baku and also to prepare for Austria before taking to the Pyrenees mountains for a few days of physical training.


2018-07-17T23:06:35+00:00June 27th, 2016|Austrian Grand Prix, Formula One, Renault Sport|