Formula 1

Preview: 2020 Formula 1 Styrian Grand Prix – Red Bull Ring

6 Mins read
Credit: Daimler AG / LAT Images

The second round of the 2020 FIA Formula 1 World Championship will see the series stay at the Red Bull Ring, this time for the 2020 Formula 1 Styrian Grand Prix.

This weekend the Red Bull Ring will host its second race of the season, making history as the first time a circuit has been used twice in the same year.

What happened at the 2020 Austrian Grand Prix?

Last weekend saw Valtteri Bottas turn his pole position into a win, despite the chaos of the Grand Prix. The race saw Charles Leclerc claiming a surprise podium for Scuderia Ferrari as he came second. While Lando Norris produced an impressive lap to lead him to his first-ever podium in F1 as he took third place.

The race started well with Bottas managing to create a gap from Max Verstappen who was on the medium compound tyres, while the majority of the top ten found themselves on the soft compound tyres. Most of the top ten stayed in position apart from Sebastian Vettel, who moved himself into the top ten of the race. By lap nine Lewis Hamilton was into the podium position after starting from fifth place due to a penalty.

Aston Martin Red Bull Racing would face bad luck at their ‘home’ race as Verstappen suffered an electrical issue and had to retire on lap eleven.

Just after Verstappen’s issue, BWT Racing Point F1 Team driver Lance Stroll also suffered from a sensor issue, which would soon see him become another retirement from the race. Before Stroll retired he was overtaken by Vettel and Daniel Ricciardo, taking ninth from the driver. Ricciardo then had issues with over heating in the car and was forced to retire from the race.

While Ricciardo retired, Grosjean spun onto the gravel at turn three, dropping to the back of the field, shortly after the off he became the first driver to take a pitstop.

The safety car came out for the first time due to Kevin Magnussen having a brake issue on lap 25. The Dane had been battling with Esteban Ocon before the issue. The safety car meant that everyone apart from Grosjean came in to change tyres.

Once the first safety car period ended on lap 31, Vettel attempted to overtake Carlos Sainz Jr at turn two. Unfortunately for the German he made contact in a clumsy move and spun his Ferrari, dropping him to near the back of the field. 

After the restart the Mercedes drivers were both given warning by their race engineers to stay off of the kerbs. Both drivers were given multiple warnings by the teams throughout the race, as Mercedes’ James Vowes had to explain the situation was critical to their cars.

On lap 50, Grosjean found himself with the same brake problem as teammate Magnussen, resulting in another retirement. At the same time George Russell, who was running thirteenth in the Williams Racing FW43, lost fuel pressure, and pulled his car to the side of the track, causing the second safety car of the race.

This safety car saw eight drivers pit and change tyre compound including Alex Albon. Who pitted for the soft tyres, while the two Mercedes stayed out.

When the second safety car period ended, the race was quickly placed back under the safety car again due to Kimi Räikkönen losing a wheel from his Alfa Romeo ORLEN, the Finn was out of the race as he was forced to stop on track.

On lap 61 racing re-started, and Albon on the soft compound tyres tried an ambitious pass on Hamilton. However it resulted in an incident similar to 2019 Brazilian Grand Prix. The pair touched and Albon spun, losing him the chance of a first podium. The clash was quickly investigated and Hamilton was handed a five second penalty by the stewards.

Toward the end of the race Leclerc started making moves to work himself into the podium places, overtaking Lando Norris and Sergio Perez for third place to get on to the podium.

Following being over taken by Norris and Leclerc. Perez was handed a penalty for speeding in the pitlane adding five seconds on to his final race time.

During this Albon joined the long list of retirements as he suffered a power unit issue, joining his teammate, meaning the Red Bull team for the weekend.

As the laps counted down Daniel Kvyat in the Scuderia AlphaTauri Honda managed to pick up a puncture, which then led to a failure in his suspension. 

On the last lap Lando Norris set the fastest lap while in fourth place, of a 1:07.475, meaning he reduced the gap to Hamilton to 4.8 seconds to take his debut podium in F1.

The rest of the points was made up of Sainz in fifth, Perez in sixth, Gasly in seventh, Ocon in eighth, Giovinazzi in ninth and Vettel for the first time in his career in tenth place.

The last finisher was Nicholas Latifi, who on his debut finished eleventh for Williams. Equalling teammate Russell’s best result in F1.

The Circuit

The Red Bull Ring is 4.318 km and the race has seventy-one laps. The circuit has the fewest corners on the circuit with one ten corners. The track consists of four long straights, which end with a few tight corners. The Red Bull Ring is a medium downforce circuit which puts a need for straight-line speed.

The engines tend to be stressed at the track due to the track being 680 meters above sea level. The cars are at full throttle for around 65% of the lap and it also is a high-break wear track. This is one of the fastest circuits on the calendar with the Bottas setting a 1:02.939, which beat Leclerc’s pole time of 2019

Credit: Pirelli Media

Sectors, Corners, and DRS Zones

Sector 1 (Turn 1 and two), the track starts with a drive to turn one which is a right-hander. To turn into one of the four long straights on the track, the first straight being an uphill climb to turn two.

Sector 2 (Turn 3 to Turn 6), starts with a heavy braking zone at turn three. This part of the circuit offers good opportunities for overtaking. The corner which is nearly a ninety-degree turn shapes into a long straight. This sector end with one of the more demanding left-hander turns, at turn six.

Sector 3, this is from turn seven to the final turn at turn 10. This sector begins with a left-hander at turn seven, this turn surround and makes the drivers pass the “Bull of Spielberg”. The sector is characterised by two long straights and is composed of a series of right-hand corners. Sector Three contains the fastest corner on the track with the Jochen Rindt Kurve at Turn nine, which is at the top of the crest and then drops downhill after the apex.

The track contains three DRS Zones, the first DRS zone has a detection point just after turn 10, with the activation zone coming after turn one. The second DRS zone has a detection point is just prior to turn three and the activation zone comes after the corner down the long straight. The third DRS zone, has a detection point which is found after turn 9, and the activation point is after turn ten down the start-finish straight.

Tyre Strategy

Credit: Pirelli Media

The white-striped hard tyres (C2), the yellow-striped medium tyres (C3) and the red-stripped soft tyres (C4) are the nominated compounds, the same as last weekend, which will continue through to this weekend.

The teams will all have two-sets of the hard-specification tyre, three sets of the medium-specification tyre and eight sets of the soft-specification tyre. The teams will also be supplied with wet and intermediate tyres if needed.

The teams may need to make use of the whet tyres this weekend, with rain forecasts for qualifying this week. If it does rain, the teams will be able to start on a free choice of tyre on Race day, meaning strategy could be mixed.

The race is historically a one-stop race, due to the track being a smooth asphalt track and it typically leads to low degradation on the tyres. Last weekend apart from qualifying, the forecast is similar but slightly lower in temperature meaning blistering will be less of a worry for most teams.

What should we look out for at this race?

This weekend there will be several drivers wanting to bounce back from the treacherous weekend at the Red Bull Ring last week.

Red Bull, who have often performed well at the track will be wanting to showcase that they can take the fight to Mercedes. The team will want to be rid of the reliability issues which affected them last week and will aim to get themselves some points this weekend as they currently sit at the bottom of the championship.

Lewis Hamilton could be in luck if rain comes his way this weekend, especially in qualifying. But after being beaten by his teammate Bottas, he will want to bounce back to take a win this weekend as he aims to equal Schumacher’s records of seven titles and ninety-one wins.

Stroll and Perez at Racing Point will also want to prove the pace of their RP20 cars. After what started as a promising weekend, it was disappointing as they only took a handful of points.

Despite being at the back of the grid Williams neared points last weekend, and also got close to making it out the second qualifying session. Russell will be hoping he can make up the small amount of time to get his FW43 into the second session of qualifying but also will be aiming to show their new pace which the team have.

What’s the schedule?

Friday 10 July

10:00 GMT / 11:00 Local Time – Free Practice One
14:00 GMT / 15:00 Local Time – Free Practice Two

Saturday 11 July

11:00 GMT / 12:00 Local Time – Free Practice Three
14:00 GMT / 15:00 Local Time – Qualifying

Sunday 12 July

14:10 GMT / 15:10 Local Time – Race

How can I keep up with the action?

You can keep up with all the weekend’s action here at the Checkered Flag. There is coverage throughout the whole weekend with quotes from all the drivers and team principals with analysis of each session over the weekend.

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