Renault-power took their first victory of the season in Canada when Daniel Ricciardo took the chequered flag for Red Bull Racing, and they head into the Austrian Grand Prix in a buoyant mood.
Renault Sport F1 Head of Track Operations Remi Taffin is looking forward to the first race at the Red Bull Ring since 2003, but knows the strain on the power units will be great due to the long straights and relatively few corners on the track.
“The win in Canada has certainly given us a boost and confirmation that we are going in the right direction but we still have a long way to go before we can expect to challenge on a regular basis,” said Taffin. “It’s a pleasure to return to Austria for the first time since 2003. It’s a beautiful, flowing track that may look simple but there are a number of challenging points for the Power Units that will push us to the limits.
“The circuit consists of four long straights, meaning the ICE runs at full throttle for a high percentage of the lap. From our simulations, we estimate approximately 50% of the lap will be taken at wide-open throttle, comparable with Montreal and Silverstone. These long periods of open throttle will not only put the ICE under a lot of pressure, but also the MGU-H that will need to recover and deliver lots of energy to the MGU-K to minimize lap time. In this respect, Austria and Canada have very similar characteristics.
“There are only nine corners at the Red Bull Ring, which will not give the MGU-K many opportunities to recover significant energy under braking. That said, we will need the MGU-K to feed the ICE with extra power, so making efficient use of the little energy recovered will be extremely important.”
The turbochargers on the Renault-powered cars will also be under additional strain due to the high altitude of the Austrian circuit, something Taffin feels will push them close to the limit. The track is approximately 700m above sea level, but he is confident however that Renault are prepared for the conditions.
“One other challenges of Austria is the high altitude, which will cause the turbo to spin at a much higher rate to compensate for the low ambient pressure – very close to the hardware limit. We have recreated some of these climatic conditions on the dyno and feel confident we have a good handle on the preparations.”
Renault powers the Red Bull Racing, Scuderia Toro Rosso, Lotus F1 and Caterham teams in Formula 1. Renault have tasted victory at this circuit on three occasions in the past – in 1980 when Jean-Pierre Jabouille won with the Renault RS01, in 1983 with Alain Prost driving the Renault RE40, and in 1997 when Jacques Villeneuve won with the Renault-powered Williams FW19.