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Back from a short break, F1 returns to Europe and makes its yearly stop in Austria. Here is everything you need to know about the Red Bull Ring, the Austrian GP F1 track. Don’t forget to take a look at our F1 predictions and the F1 odds for the sprint weekend.
Austrian GP Layout: Uphill, Downhill and the Shortest Laptime in F1
The Austrian GP layout has remained largely unchanged since 1996. One of the fastest tracks in the schedule, the Red Bull-owned circuit is a popular destination for racing series, as the layout is loved by fans and drivers.
Red Bull Ring has a fair share of uphill and downhill sections, with lots of high-speed corners. The track is extremely demanding for cars and drivers. Tyre wear might become a factor, as we saw in last year’s race, owing to the track’s high-speed nature and the summer weather.
Drivers start the lap heading down the short main straight, which is followed by a tricky uphill braking zone into turn 1 (Lauda Kurve). A medium speed flick to the right, turn 1 can make or break a lap. The car must carry as much speed as possible through turn 1, as it leads to the long backstraight. Drivers spend as much as 10 seconds on throttle down the backstraight, so roughly a tenth of the lap.
Turn 2, a flat-out kink to the left, is located near the end of the backstraight. Turn 3 comes right after that. The track’s slowest corner, turn 3 is a tricky uphill, slightly off-camber hairpin. Exiting turn 3, drivers find themselves in the downhill section.
Getting a good exit out of turn 3 is even more important compared to turn 1, as the cars will spend roughly 15 seconds on throttle before braking for turn 4. Much like turn 3, turn 4 is another tricky corner: a downhill hairpin that is completely off-camber. Getting a bit too griddy here will often result in a spin.
Next comes the fastest part of the track. The brakes won’t see a lot of action trough turns 4 to 10. Downforce is king, and this section is also particularly demanding on the tyres. Turn 6 is a long-radius, off-camber, fast downhill left-hander that only requires the tiniest of dabs on the brakes. Next comes the turns 7-8 complex: fast esses, which only requires a slight lift of the throttle. Plenty of drivers go through the esses without downshifting.
Turns 7 and 8 lead to another short straight, which is then followed by turn 9 (Rindt Kurve), a blindingly fast and slightly banked right-hander. Then comes another short straight, which leads into turn 10. The final corner is a fast downhill right-hander that quite literally catapults drivers back into the main straight. Turns 9 and 10 aren’t particularly difficult to navigate, but drivers do need to keep an eye out for track limits.
Red Bull Ring DRS Zones: Three Long Straights
The Austrian GP F1 track has three DRS zones, each with a different detection point. The first detection point is located right at the end of the front straight. Drivers within the one-second range can then use their overtaking aid down the long backstraight heading into turn 3. With a heavy braking zone right at the end, this DRS zone is arguably the best one for overtaking.
The leading car has very little time to rest: there is another DRS detection point waiting right at the end of the backstraight. Exiting turn 3, the chasing car will have another golden overtaking opportunity. The second DRS zone is located on the straight between turns 3 and 4. With 13 to 16 seconds of full throttle, plus the slipstream from the car ahead, drivers will have a chance to complete a move down the straight, before braking into turn 4.
The third and final DRS detection point is located on the exit of turn 9. Drivers within the one-second range can then use their DRS down the front straight. This one is a relatively short DRS zone, and while it does make overtaking possible, drivers are probably better off using it as the set up for a move down the backstraight.
Red Bull Ring Racing History
|Elio de Angelis
*Styrian Grand Prix
A track with many names, Red Bull Ring has seen three different stints in F1. It first joined the schedule in 1970, as the Osterreichring, featuring a slightly different, longer layout. The 1975 Grand Prix is a famous one, as fan-favorite Vittorio Brambilla won a shortened race under torrential rain. Famous for crashing out more often than not, Brambilla somehow survived the treacherous conditions to win his first and only F1 GP. Staying true to himself, the Italian driver crashed immediately after taking the checkered flag, and proceeded to do the victory lap with a broken front wing.
In 1987, the track hosted a chaotic Grand Prix. The race saw no less than three starts, with the first two ending in pileups. Nigel Mansell won the race from teammate and title rival Nelson Piquet, but safety concerns raised after the race led to Osterreichring being dropped from the calendar.
The Austrian track remained out of the F1 schedule for a decade, before returning in 1997 with a new layout. Now rebranded as A1-Ring, the Austrian F1 track was shortended to the current 10-turn, 4.318 km layout, and featured significant safety improvements. In 2002, A1-Ring saw one of the most infamous team orders in F1 history, as Rubens Barrichello, having dominated the race from pole, slowed down to let teammate Michael Schumacher through. The Ferrari drivers and team personnel were met with loud boos from the crowd.
In 2004, Red Bull acquired the track from A1, but chose to close the facilities. But in a surprising turnaround, the Austrian beverage juggernaut then decided to renovate the track instead. After reopening for motorsports in 2010, the newly-rebranded Red Bull Ring re-joined the F1 schedule in 2014.
The 2016 race marked another controversial episode between teammates, title rivals and former friends Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg. Hamilton started on pole, but lost the lead to Rosberg. The British driver managed to catch his Mercedes teammate on the final lap. Just as Hamilton pulled off the winning overtake, Rosberg forced a crash, breaking his front wing. The German was able to cross the line in second place, but his clumsy defense resulted in a penalty that dropped him down to fourth place.
Five years later, in 2019, Max Verstappen pulled off an aggressive overtake on Charles Leclerc into turn 1 on the final lap, denying the Ferrari driver what would have been his maiden win. Leclerc got his revenge last year, taking advantage of Red Bull’s tyre struggles to overtake Verstappen and score his third win of 2022, denying Red Bull a popular home win in their dominant championship-winning season.
What Lies Ahead for 2023
Red Bull Ring has been a happy hunting ground for the track’s owners. Verstappen has three wins in the last five races on Red Bull’s home track, and could very well add a record-setting fourth win this year. The track’s high-speed nature will likely suit the RB19 really well.
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