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  • Matthieu Piekarski

#14 Austrian GP Preview



Grüss Gott und willkommen to Red Bull Land, home of the 8th Grand Prix of the 2015 Formula 1 season.

I wanted to begin by congratulating Nico Hulkenberg for his win in the 24h of Le Mans. What a spectacular victory on his maiden race with the Porsche team. Allan McNish summarized it well by saying “Le Mans is tough for anyone because it is so different from any other event-to race solidly for 24 hours. For a novice as Nico, to win is especially hard, so him winning is an extraordinary achievement”. This victory will hopefully remind the F1 paddock how much he is an underestimated driver when it comes to the top-teams choosing their driver line-up in the coming years. Hopefully we will see him very soon in a top-team, perhaps in place of Kimi in 2016?

I wouldn’t be surprised ifnext year more F1 drivers such as Fernando Alonso (he was the #1 choice of Porsche to race in the race seat that Nico Hulkenberg ended up driving in) will take part in the 24h of Le Mans. Nico Hulkenberg in a way has opened the possibility of making the 24h of Le Mans a sort of world cup, where the best pilots of various motorsport come to defy each other. Because it takes skills and as well a bit of luck to win at Le Mans.

Numerous comparison following the 24h of Le Mans are being made in the paddock since Wednesday. Of course it’s important to look at other sports, but we cannot compare these two sports to each other. There are sufficient articles on the net that have appeared these past two days, suggesting ideas to implement to improve the racing. Right now, F1 must focus on putting forth its strength and not talk itself down.


Funny anecdote, the Styria region where the Red Bull Ring is located is also the birthplace of Arnold Schwarzenegger.

The Austrian Grand Prix is the shortest lap of the whole season (it takes less than 70 seconds to complete it). With two DRS zones, I am curious to see whether this weekend we will see a new fastest lap and beat the record established by Michael Schumacher in 2003 with a 1:08.337 sec ?

For the third race in succession, the tyre allocation for the weekend are Soft & Supersofts. The time difference between both compounds are in the region of 0.7-0.9 seconds per lap.

  • Red Bull Ring with two straights and 4 slow corners out of a total of 9, results in a relatively Low demand on tyre.

  • Low grip and low abrasion

  • Turns 5 and 6 place considerable stress on the tyres (right-hand side of the car).

  • If the weather is warm we will see two stops, if it’s cool then it will be a one-stop race.

  • In 2014, 79% of the race was done on Soft and 21% on supersoft.

Weather forecast for the weekend will give us a bit of everything. Friday the whole day we are expecting rain. Saturday a possibility of showers with most of the time cloudy weather. Sunday is expected to be dry throughout the whole race. Expect therefore a one-stop race with cool temperatures.


Things to watch out for:

  • After 11 seasons off the F1 Calendar, the Austrian Grand Prix reappeared last year.

  • Teams have now a reference point data-wise from 2014, facilitating their work when deciding on the optimal strategy.

  • Although the asphalt is new, the track remains bumpy in certain areas, potential challenge to find consistent grip.

  • Similar to Canada, cars with the best traction out of the slow corners will have a big advantage over others. Advantage Mercedes AMG

  • 4.326 km circuit taken clockwise with 9 corners

  • Average Speed is 224 km/h. One of the fastest track of the season.

  • Top speed with DRS is 324 km/h

  • 70% of the time the driver is on full throttle

  • Overtaking is rated medium even with DRS activated.

  • 7 braking zones

  • 17% of the time the driver is on his brakes

  • High Brake wear, will Mercedes AMG suffer again this year?

  • 71% Safety Car chances

  • Pit-Stop time to retain current position is 22 seconds

  • Mercedes Engine cars will have an advantage on this track

  • Lotus, Williams and Mercedes

  • Renault and Honda engines will suffer the most.

  • Honda will suffer considerably, as this track places big demands on the ERS system (the Achilles heel of McLaren).

  • Shame because McLaren is the most successful team of all time in Austria with 9 wins.

  • Not yet confirmed but expect numerous teams with grid-penalty

  • Red Bull is expected to have a min. 10 place grid-penalty (to be confirmed). I don’t understand why Red Bull didn’t take a grid-penalty in Canada rather than on home territory.

  • Honda and Alonso will get a 20 grid-penalty (will be announced Friday before FP1)

  • Will these upgrades increase their performance and give us some good overtaking? I really hope so, especially for Red Bull being on home territory.

  • Can Williams have a front-row lock up in Qualification again?

  • They are brining significant upgrades to their FW37, to be seen.

  • Don’t underestimate Vettel, can disturb the hierarchy!

  • The pole sitter has 26.92% chances of winning the race from pole.

Predictions for the weekend:

Qualification is the biggest question mark of the weekend. Last year it was Williams with Felipe Massa that locked the front row with team-mate Valterri Bottas. But keep in mind that there is 73% chances of seeing someone else winning the race after 71 laps on Sunday. Therefore, in my view qualifying is very open between Williams, Ferrari and Mercedes. In my humble opinion, with cool temperatures Ferrari seem the weakest of the three, as they consistently struggled with heating up their tyres on a single lap.

Advantage: Mercedes & Williams

Race wise, Mercedes AMG will win the race. Lewis Hamilton has regained a winning momentum and wants to win for the first time on this track. From my observation during the FIA Drivers press conference, Nico Rosberg seemed very tense and almost as if he is under pressure, first time of the season I see him like that, we shall see Sunday if that is a good or bad signal performance wise? The only thing in between Mercedes and victory is if their brakes will endure the high brake wear.

Advantage: Mercedes

X Factor of the Austrian GP: Sebastian Vettel and his Ferrari, can he disturb the hierarchy? Let’s hope yes, so that we have a far more entertaining race than in Canada.


Bet Quotes for the winner of the #Austrian GP:

1. Lewis Hamilton 1.25

2. Nico Rosberg 2.65

3. Sebastian Vettel 5.00

4. Kimi Raikkonen 6.00

I am very surprised to see Nico Rosberg’s bet quote that high for a GP that he won last year. This could be a very interesting betting option. Include also Vettel to bet on for the win this weekend, if things don’t go Mercedes AMG way, be sure that he will take every possible opportunity to win. Generally speaking every time the bet quote was above 1.70 Nico Rosberg won the race. Unfortunately, for the hardcore analyst that take every variation into consideration, I haven’t seen or received any confirmation if his lucky charm wife will be around in Spielberg. All in all the safest bet remains Lewis.

Enjoy the Austrian Grand Prix!

ps: if you are in Spielberg or even in Graz, you must absolutely devour a proper Wiener Schnitzel with a beer, definitely ordering one tonight!

Don’t forget to follow me throughout the weekend for pics and a roundup of the weekend’s paddock gossip on my Twitter: @m_piekarski


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