In the space of less than a week, we go directly from one of the longer laps on the Formula 1 calendar (in France) to the shortest, in terms of overall lap time, in Austria: the first back-to-back of the season.
One lap of the Red Bull Ring takes only just over a minute to cover, and with the fastest-ever lap there set in qualifying last year (1m03.130s) we could see the benchmark lowered even further this weekend. Pirelli is bringing the C2 as the white hard tyre, C3 as the yellow medium, and C4 as the red soft choice in Austria.
The Red Bull Ring, which returned in the F1 calendar in 2014 in its current guise, consists of 4,318 metres of up and down smooth asphalt in the Styrian mountains. The first two sectors are quite fast whereas the final sector is slower and more technical.
Traction and braking are the main characteristics of the Red Bull Ring, with corners linked by a series of brief straights. As the lap is so short, traffic is often an issue.
While the weather should be warm in summer, the circuit’s proximity to the Northern Styrian Alps increases the possibility of rain or more variable weather. However, last year was hot with track temperatures close to 40 degrees centigrade.
Historically, this has normally been a one-stop race with relatively low levels of tyre wear and degradation. Last year, Red Bull’s Max Verstappen won with a one-stop supersoft-soft strategy, but different variations of a one-stopper were seen throughout the top 10. Outside the top 10, some drivers stopped twice.
Most of the corners are right-hand turns, but the two most demanding corners in terms of energy through the tyres are left-handers. Consequently, the loaded tyres go into them almost cold, as they are not otherwise worked hard during the lap. A key to extracting the best lap time will be to maximise the performance of those tyres.
Mario Isola, Head of F1: “Like last year, we have exactly the same nomination for Austria as we had for France, with the races again separated by only one week, at the same time of year. The difference is that the 2019 compounds are more evenly spaced, which should encourage more varied pit stop strategies and better racing.”
“Austria is an unusual track, with lots of blind corners and unpredictable elements such as weather and traffic. This means that plenty of confidence, as well as exactly the right set-up, is needed to get the best out of the tyres on this short track and maximise all the different opportunities that present themselves; also in terms of strategy.”
“Spielberg is a circuit where we have always had some blisters in the past; we are confident that we will see a difference this weekend with the 2019-specification tyre”.
Other Pirelli News
Pirelli remains in Austria for another private test following the grand prix, with Alfa Romeo running one car to test prototype 2020 Formula 1 slick tyres on Tuesday and Wednesday after the race.
The six drivers from the three top teams have all made different tyre choices from each other: a relatively unusual occurrence, which could lead to some interesting battles and tactics.
Pirelli tackles the legendary Pikes Peak hillclimb in Colorado, USA, on the same day as the Austrian Grand Prix, targeting a new production car world record with the Bentley Continental GT driven by Rhys Millen.