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On The Pit Wall: The Spielberg Circuit Guide

On The Pit Wall: The Spielberg Circuit Guide

Paddy's Perspective

"The performance of the car in Canada was once again very strong. Unfortunately, we were unable to fully capitalise on that performance in the race. We saw an extraordinary drive from Nico to salvage second place with malfunctioning machinery, but it was extremely unfortunate for Lewis that we were unable to manage the failure on his car to the same extent. This has once again created a sizeable points deficit for Lewis through no fault of his own. But, of course, we are doing our utmost to give both drivers the opportunity to compete for the Championship on equal terms. We put a significant amount of effort into understanding the problem that occurred in Canada and ensuring that there will be no repeat in Austria. We’re excited by the prospect of a return to Spielberg after many years away and hoping for a return to form results-wise. It’s a short circuit with a lot of braking and high fuel consumption, so it will be another challenging race. The venue is also at high altitude which, owing to the low atmospheric pressure, places a different kind of duty on the Power Unit to what we’ve seen so far. It will be interesting to see how well both we and the competition respond to that."

Spielberg: On the Pit Wall

A ‘New’ Venue

A Formula One Grand Prix hasn’t been held in Austria since 2003. Teams must therefore approach the weekend as if it were a brand new event, as data and statistics from 11 years ago are simply not relevant to today’s racing. New events, or in this case those that can be considered so, provide an interesting challenge. Teams that are most adept at conducting pre-race simulation work and dynamically reacting to live data during the weekend itself will have a significant advantage. Gaps between teams are likely to be larger than average: particularly at the beginning of the weekend. Making a strong start will therefore give teams a good chance of overhauling their immediate rivals.

With only a handful of the current drivers on the grid having competed here in the past, in any racing formula, the relatively unknown nature of the track could prove something of a leveller. Certainly at venues such as Monaco, where existing knowledge of the circuit characteristics is of significant benefit, the more experienced drivers will have an advantage heading into the weekend. Here, however, those drivers who have the most natural feel for car setup will come to the fore.

Simulation

Approaching a relatively unknown venue such as that seen in Austria requires a significant amount of simulation work. Time spent in the DIL (Driver in the Loop) Simulator is key to providing the most accurate set of data possible, as this is what the team will work from heading into the opening practice sessions. While modern simulation tools are sufficiently accurate to provide a solid baseline, there are some subtleties which cannot be accounted for. Knowledge of how old the tarmac is, how different the grip is at different points around the circuit, how the track surface and balance will change over the course of the weekend and the race itself will only be revealed as running progresses. Teams must therefore glean all of this information during Friday and Saturday. This will likely lead to increased track time during practice sessions.

Circuit Layout

Similar to the last race in Montreal, this is a high power sensitivity circuit with a low number of corners and multiple straights. This style of track layout also exemplifies fuel efficiency: both characteristics which play to the strengths of the Mercedes-Benz Power Unit. Much the same as in Montreal once more, braking stability is essential. Of the ten corners around the circuit, seven are classed as braking events: three of which are heavy. Turn One is a fantastic corner: comparable in many ways to its counterpart in Austin. The severity of the gradient may not appear too great on television, but in reality it’s a tricky right-hander with a blind turn-in, rising quite sharply uphill. While Turn One in Austin is certainly steeper, this is much more off-camber and much more blind to the driver, making it really quite exciting.

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