FORMULA 1 AUSTRIAN GRAND PRIX 2017 PREVIEW

Foreword from Renault Sport Racing Managing Director, Cyril Abiteboul

The Austrian Grand Prix comes at a critical point of our season and it’s important that we go there in determined fashion. We need to be resolute to put aside the disappointment of Baku, be in a position to strive for a points haul in Spielberg and eager to meet our targets for the season by getting back on the right track.

Azerbaijan left us with a bittersweet feeling. Results and reliability were disappointing, even more so it doesn’t correlate with the amount of work accomplished from the engine perspective, although Daniel Ricciardo’s win does show the progress. For Renault Sport Formula One Team, there is frustration since Montréal. We feel the car is much more competitive and that was experienced right from the start of the weekend in Baku. Unfortunately this didn’t translate into points.

In Baku Nico did a fine job in the race, staying out of trouble before and after the red flag, but the slightest of misjudgements put an end to his charge. Jolyon, meanwhile, was up against it after missing out on qualifying and had to retire seven laps in. The team in Baku did a great job on both cars, especially Jolyon’s, by giving him a chance to be in the race, but ultimately we fell short.

Looking to Austria, we are confident. We will start to see further improvements on the car and we aim to make a fresh and positive turnaround in Spielberg. We are fully committed to ensuring we get to the right milestones and to catch-up on lost points from Baku.

Austria and Silverstone are the first European back to back races of the season. They are exciting circuits with passionate and energetic supporters to match. The fans witnessed a great show in Baku and we hope it will be the same in Spielberg and that Renault Sport Formula One Team gets back in the points.

I would also like to extend my congratulations to Academy member Christian Lundgaard who took a hat-trick of wins in the Spanish F4 Championship.. Our Test Driver Nicholas Latifi also had a positive weekend as he took two third place finishes in the Formula 2 support races in Baku.

It’s important now that we add to this success. Our season goals are unchanged. We want to be sixth by the mid-season break and fifth come Abu Dhabi in November. Therefore, it is vital we pick ourselves up and push on for some points in Austria from both cars. It is about regrouping, working hard together, concentrating, putting our issues behind and ensuring we stay positive both in the build-up and during the race weekend.

Game Plan

After a weekend of highs and lows in Baku, Engine Technical Director Rémi Taffin looks at the state of play in the Power Unit world.

What can we expect from the Red Bull Ring?
It is quite a power sensitive track and it probably will be in line with Baku in terms of performance expectations. We will consolidate the power improvement made for Baku and aim to deliver more. There is no big plan with brand new upgrades, just continual improvement of the entire package. The altitude of the track will be a challenge as the turbo will spin faster to generate the required induction, so that’s something we’ll monitor. Experiencing a trouble-free weekend will bring points.

What’s the post Baku debrief?
In terms of performance we were able to demonstrate on a very power-sensitive circuit that we have made another step forward. This was not through new components, but rather through our continual quest for more power and improvement, concentrating on the details and optimising every element of the package. Nico was fighting to be in the top five when he made contact with the wall, and this was on a circuit with a tremendously long straight and a great appetite for horsepower. It was also good for us to be able to cheer the race winner.

What is also clear is that we did have reliability issues on track; issues which we immediately addressed, but this should not detract from the clear progress which has been made. We have put in place new and better procedures to catch any issues before the cars take to the track and we’re working with great diligence in this area.

For our customer teams, we saw coincidence of issues. The Energy Store issue we have seen has been addressed and the new Energy Stores are to a different specification without this concern. With the ICE, the latest specification addresses the problems we’ve seen to date. In Austria, we have the latest versions of components and we should not see any repeats of previous woes.

Schnitzels and strudels
A minor error proved costly for Nico Hülkenberg in Baku, but the German has set his sights on brushing that aside and going for glory in Austria…

Is Austria almost a second home race for you?
These days, Monaco is a home race for me as that’s the one where I stay at home for the race weekend but Austria definitely has a familiarity about it and it’s a very welcoming event. The atmosphere is very relaxed and lots of German fans make the short trip over the border so yes, it almost feels like a home race for me. I love racing in Spielberg especially with the backdrop to the track, with the Alps; it’s spectacular, and there is an old-school vibe to the circuit which I enjoy.

Do you enjoy the Austrian culture?
It’s mandatory to eat a schnitzel that is for sure! They come from Austria and I absolutely love schnitzels. I also recommend kaiserschmarrn; it’s a fantastic, Austrian dessert, I love it! Spielberg is in the middle of nowhere, there isn’t much around, just lots of fields and cows but also a lot of green which is very pretty and picturesque to see.

How’s the track to drive?
It’s a short track with not too many corners. It’s important not to get a false impression as it’s still very challenging and technical. It has a lot of elevation – up and down – and some tricky corners to match. On paper, it looks easy but actually to get a good lap time it isn’t so simple. It’s about balance, there are some medium speed corners so it will be important to find that and get a decent lap time. Last year was fantastic to be on the front row – I managed to string a good lap together in Q3. It was just a shame not to follow that up in the race!

How do you sum up Baku?
It was a difficult weekend. It was a crazy race; one of those you get every five years. During the red flag we were sixth, things were going well and we were making up places with people crashing, I was just trying to stay alive and out of trouble. Unfortunately, lap two after the red flag, I misjudged the turning into turn seven and hit the inside wall and broke the steering arm. That was the end of my race which was disappointing, we surely would have had a couple of points. That is racing, however, and we will regroup and go again in Austria.

The Hills are Alive
A strong run up the order in Austria last year gives Jolyon Palmer cause for optimism heading to the hills of Spielberg.

What’s the challenge of Spielberg?
The Red Bull Ring is quite a simple track with just nine 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 and the long straight joining them. There are some fast corners as well, including the penultimate corner which is pretty quick. Then the last corner has a bit of camber and you need to carry the speed through. It’s a fun circuit in an F1 car as there are some good straights and the tyre deg is very low so we can be flat out the whole race.

You had a positive race in Spielberg last season…
We started on the penultimate row last year but I managed to work my way up to twelfth, beating my team-mate. I was quite happy with the race, we just needed a little bit of extra luck and I think we could have been in the points. It is a circuit I enjoy having raced there in GP2 in 2014 and then a Free Practice session in 2015. It was definitely one of my strongest races of last season, so it is important to build on the knowledge we have and my confidence at the track and work towards a positive result. We need to change our luck. I hope we can make it all stick heading into the final few rounds before the summer break – beginning here.

How do you reflect on Baku?
There isn’t a lot to say from my weekend, but it was a crazy race to watch! I enjoyed watching it, but I wish I was in it, I think there were some points up for grabs for us. We will make sure we have a better one in Austria, the target is always the same; to bring home some points.

RSA Round-Up

Double podium for Fewtrell in Monza
Max Fewtrell scooped a brace of second place finishes in the opening round of the Formula Renault Northern European Cup (NEC) in Monza, 24-25 June.

Starting from second on the grid, Fewtrell maintained that spot in the opening race as Tech-1 Racing team-mate Gabriel Aubry took the honours. It was a similar story in the second race on Sunday in Italy as Fewtrell was narrowly pipped by the Frenchman despite recording the fastest lap of the race.

Fellow Academy member Sun Yue Yang finished fourth in race one after a cool drive from seventh on the grid with an error at turn three, in race two, halting his progress of another points finish.

Both Fewtrell and Sun will be in Eurocup action when the series returns at the Hungaroring, 29 June-2 July.

Fewtrell currently leads the rookie standings and is seventh overall. Sun and Jarno Opmeer will be going in search of a maiden points finish of the season.

Max Fewtrell: “I have made some good improvements since we were at this circuit with the Eurocup series, so it’s pleasing to make a gain. I did want to win, though, so it was quite frustrating. I can’t be too mad with two podium finishes and the fastest lap in the second race. I learnt a lot and felt like I’ve made a step in myself driving wise and I’m now looking forward to the next Eurocup race.

Super hat-trick for Lundgaard in Aragon as Garcia marks her return
Christian Lundgaard took a hat-trick of wins as he stole the show in the opening round of the Spanish F4 Championship in Aragon.

Marta Garcia was also in action as she began her Spanish campaign with a strong points haul with two sixth places and a ninth.

Lundgaard was racing during a break from his regular SMP F4 NEZ series which he currently leads.

The Dane was beaten to pole for the opening race but put that behind and cruised to victory by over three seconds.

He added to that in the second race, benefitting from a quick start to take the chequered flag by over two seconds and produced another impressive outing in the third as he won by five seconds.

Garcia was lining up in her first race of the season and took 13 points from the weekend,
sealing her a brace of sixth place finishes in the final two races with a number of fine overtakes.

Lundgaard will be racing in the NEZ series in Parnu, Estonia 1-2 July, whilst Garcia has a lengthy wait before the Spanish championship returns in Navarra, 2-3 September.

Christian Lundgaard: “This was a fantastic weekend, certainly better than expected. I have places and areas which I need to improve so that is what I will be working on now.”

Marta Garcia: “It was a difficult weekend in Motorland after a long time without jumping in the car. I had to get used to the track as I haven’t been here before and it has some tricky parts. I didn’t have the pace to be in the top five during the weekend which was my target. In the end, I did my best starting P12 in the races and I managed to get two P6s and a P9. I’m sure I’ll be back stronger in the second round which is in Navarra in September!”

Aitken ready for GP3 action
Jack Aitken returns to racing as the GP3 series resumes at the Red Bull Ring on the Grand Prix weekend.
The 21-year-old will be aiming to put his foot down and make amends after a frustrating start in Barcelona in May where his only points of the weekend came from his pole position.
Jack Aitken: “I am looking forward to racing again, it has been a long time since the first round. It’s a weird calendar with the long break. Red Bull Ring is a place where you can get some good racing so it should be interesting. Generally I like the circuit; it’s challenging as it is short and every corner is critical. A one tenth loss will shuffle you back some positions. You can certainly race there, as there are some decent straights and DRS should be effective.”

Latifi at the double, Rowland loses ground and Sirotkin is back
Renault Sport Formula One Team Test Driver Nicholas Latifi secured two Formula 2 podium finishes as he enjoyed a strong weekend on the streets of Baku.

The Canadian put his DAMS car in third position on the grid and remained cool and consistent to keep that place in the Feature race. In the Sprint, Latifi made a charge from sixth on the grid, and crossed the line in a comfortable third.

It wasn’t quite plain sailing for Renault Sport Formula One Team Development Driver Oliver Rowland as he endured a frustrating weekend which saw him lose ground to Charles Leclerc in the championship title battle.

Rowland looked set to take a healthy haul of points in the opening race after he finished fourth, but a 10-second time penalty for failing to slow down for yellow flags bumped him down to seventh.

His bad luck did not finish there as the 24-year-old retired from the lead of the Sprint race with a gearbox issue.

Meanwhile, Renault Sport Formula One Team Third and Reserve Driver Sergey Sirotkin, had a mixed weekend on his Formula 2 return.

Sitting in for the injured Alexander Albon, the Russian rather unluckily crashed out of the Feature race at turn 8, but put that behind him with a strong fourth in Sunday’s Sprint.

Nicholas Latifi: “I am really pleased with the double podium. We had good race pace across the weekend so I am satisfied with the results and delighted for the team who did a great job. This is my first double podium across a Formula 2 series or a GP2 series for that matter. I managed to set the weekend up with a clean and tidy lap in qualifying, despite clipping the wall and damaging the front wing earlier in the session, you have to push on street circuits, and it was rewarded with my best qualifying of the year. I want to keep up this trend for Austria and hopefully repeat the results. I really like the circuit and the scenery around, I have raced there a couple of times throughout my career with some decent finishes.”
Track Notes:
The fast Red Bull Ring places high demands on the brakes and power unit. The 4.318km lap is comprised of high speed and 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 under 70secs.

T1 – Long straight uphill will make big demands on the power unit, with T1 a reasonably quick and challenging right hander at the end. The uphill helps the braking but it is a short apex and drivers have to focus not to run too wide.

T2 – Undulating longest straight on the track with heavy braking into T2 of Remus. Slow right hander which will give the brakes quite a workout despite being uphill.

T3 – Another decent straight with the downhill, relatively fast T3 of Schlossgold at the end, featuring an interesting camber to challenge the drivers. Braking is a challenge due to being downhill; out-braking easy here.

T5 – Good exit of T3 opens up the quick right-hand kink (T4) leading into T5 a long and fairly fast left opening up a mini straight.

T6 – Fast left as the driver clings on for grip using the run off kerb to open up the fast right curve which leads into another straight.

T8 – Blind entrance with the brow of the hill at Rindt, a fast right-hander, down two gears, creating momentum for the final corner, using wide exit to widen the corner.

T9 – Vital to carry as much momentum as possible to carry the speed onto the straight across the start-finish line and then uphill to T1.

Power Unit Notes:
The circuit consists of four long straights, meaning the ICE runs at full throttle for over 66% of the lap. This figure is comparable with Spa and Monza.

The longest straight is the 790m uphill 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 66% of the lap) is spent at full throttle.

There are only nine 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.

Tyres:

Soft (yellow) – Sachertorte – A robust and trusty chocolate cake. Packs a few surprises with its apricot layer and dark chocolate outsides combining for an everlasting taste.

Supersoft (red) – Apfelstrudel – An Austrian classic; delicate pastry coating and has that soothing crunch of the apple in the middle. Reliable and popular.

Ultrasoft (purple) – Kaiserschmarrn – Nico’s favourite; extremely soft throughout and sweet to eat. Known as the shredded pancake, it will go down and disappear out of sight very quickly!

In Numbers:

2860 (carat) – the world’s largest emerald is displayed in the Imperial Treasury of the Hofburg (Imperial Palace) in Vienna.

62 – 62% of Austria’s total land area is covered by Austrian Alps.

34 – Austria has 34 peaks above 2,000 metres.

8 – Austria is bordered by 8 countries. Germany and Czech Republic to the north, Switzerland and Liechtenstein to the west, Slovenia and Italy to the south and Hungary and Slovakia to the east.

3798 (metres) – Grossglockner is Austria’s highest point.