Austrian Grand Prix Preview: Red Bull Ring
For the third race in succession, the P Zero Yellow soft and P Zero Red supersoft tires have been nominated. The demands on the tires are relatively low, with two straights and reasonably slow corners.
The Austrian Grand Prix reappeared on the Formula One calendar for the first time in 11 seasons last year, meaning that the teams will now be able to use the data from 2014 when it comes to formulating the optimal strategy. After the Austrian Grand Prix, the final two-day in-season test of the year will take place on Tuesday and Wednesday.
Paul Hembery, Pirelli motorsport director: “Austria ends the run of soft and supersoft nominations that we see towards the middle of the season, on quite a diverse variety of tracks. The tire strategy will depend on some extent to the weather: if it is warm we are more likely to see two stops, whereas if it’s cool the balance might shift towards a one-stopper. Rain is also a distinct possibility in Styria at this time of year, as we saw during free practice last season, so the teams will basically have to be prepared for everything. This year, the drivers head to the Red Bull Ring with real data about the track for the first time, which will help them find the most efficient way to use the tires. Obviously our aim is always to have between two and three stops at every race, so this is something that we will monitor carefully in future when it comes to nominations: we do have the possibility to make some minor changes if required. We’re only expecting a small time gap between the two compounds in Austria, so this opens up a number of different possibilities as to how to run the race strategy.”
The biggest challenges for the tires: The surface at the Red Bull Ring is low grip and low abrasion, with the track getting progressively quicker as the weekend goes on. Even though the asphalt is new, the track is quite bumpy in places, which makes it difficult to find consistent grip.
Gaining traction out of the corners is a particularly important aspect of the Red Bull Ring, as there are a number of slow corners leading onto faster straights. A neat approach to finding the apex, in order to get onto the power afterwards as quickly as possible without spinning the wheels, is vital to maximize tire life.
The supersoft tire is a low working range compound, capable of achieving optimal performance even at low temperatures. The soft tire is a high working range compound, suitable for higher temperatures and more strenuous track conditions. Both warm and cool conditions are possible in Austria.
The Spielberg circuit runs in a clockwise direction, but there are two very significant corners (turns 5 and 6) that place considerable stress on the tires on the right-hand side of the car.
Expected performance gap between the two compounds: 0.7 – 0.9 seconds per lap.
Last year’s strategy and how the race was won: Most drivers did a two-stopper last year, although three managed a one-stop. Race winner Nico Rosberg (Mercedes) started on the supersoft, changed to the soft on lap 11, then to the soft again on lap 40. His strategy allowed him to win even though he started from third on the grid.