Wolff: The 2020 season is a massive challenge

Ahead of the 2020 Formula 1 season-opening Australian Grand Prix, team boss Toto Wolff previews the race and the season in which he will lead his team to even further heights.

Already the new era Silver Arrows has shattered just about every record during this past decade under Wolff’s watch, with 12 titles bagged in six years. In Melbourne, the start of their tenth year (in their second coming) as a full works F1 outfit, the World Champions begin their quest to make it 14 from seven.

In the team’s race preview, Wolff was taking nothing for granted as usual, “We’ve had a very busy winter; not only did we develop, test and build a new car, we’ve also signed new principal partner INEOS and announced a bold commitment for sustainability. Our goals are very ambitious as we aim to cut our CO2 emissions by 2022.

“Starting this year, we will achieve a net-zero carbon footprint through a combination of reducing our emissions and CO2 offsetting. We hope that other teams will soon follow our lead and introduce an equally strong sustainability strategy.

“It’s finally time go racing again and we’re looking forward to the new season. The team has worked very hard to build a new car and we’re excited to see what it can do when it’s driven in anger. We managed to get through most of our programme as planned at the winter tests; however, we faced some reliability issues that we needed to resolve. We’re glad that we encountered these issues in testing rather than at a race weekend as we could work on fixing them without any penalties.

“The new season will be exciting to watch both on-track and away from it as everything we do this year will have a knock-on effect for our competitiveness in the future. We face the challenge of the biggest technical changes our sport has ever seen combined with a budget cap, so the work that we do this year will determine the start to 2021.

“This makes the 2020 season a massive challenge – a challenge that everyone in Brixworth and Brackley is looking forward to.”

Fact File: Australian Grand Prix

  • The pit lane distance – measured from the pit lane limiter line to the pit lane exit line – at the Melbourne Grand Prix Circuit is the shortest on the Formula One calendar, at just 280.6 metres.
  • The Australian Grand Prix is one of just five races on the F1 schedule to have a 60 km/h speed limit in the pit lane, rather than the 80 km/h speed limit. The other races to have a 60 km/h speed limit in the pit lane are Monaco, France, Singapore and Russia.
  • Melbourne’s F1 track is tied with Spielberg for the second-highest percentage of lap time spent at full throttle (72.3%). It also has the fourth-highest percentage of lap distance taken at full throttle (79.3%). Only Monza features a higher wide-open-throttle percentage, with 76% of lap time and 84% of lap distance at full throttle.
  • Drivers experience some of the highest g-forces of the season through the quick Turn 11 at the Melbourne Grand Prix Circuit, reaching a maximum of 5.1 G laterally.
  • The circuit at Albert Park is bumpy and features many aggressive kerbs, which makes it very tough on the tea tray (the first part of the floor, behind the front wheels) and can cause damage to the cars.
  • The 11-hour time difference between Australia and the UK make the first race of the season particularly tricky for the industrial placement students and the engineers who support the team from the Race Support Room (RSR) in Brackley and the Track Support Office (TSO) in Brixworth. The teams have access to a sleep schedule, to help shift over to the different time zone, but everyone approaches it differently – from making the shift gradually in the build-up to the race weekend to going all-in from Wednesday onwards.
  • From Thursday onwards, the support team in England will not only watch all the sessions live, but also join all engineering meetings at the track remotely. This makes for some unusual working patterns: Thursday’s shift starts at midnight and finishes around lunchtime, with Friday beginning at midnight and concluding around 3PM in the afternoon. Saturday’s shift starts at 1AM and ends at lunchtime. On race day, the teams arrive at the factories at 2am and wrap things up mid-morning – most certainly looking forward to a good night’s sleep in the following night.