Fast Five: Things to Watch in Austria
A mountain blast to challenge our team
On the edge of your seats already? No surprise, Formula 1's long-awaited return to racing is just days away in Austria!
While Checo and Lance jump behind the wheel of our RP20 for its grand prix debut, there's plenty for fans to keep an eye out for across the weekend.
The Red Bull Ring is already eye-catching and picturesque, sitting in the bowl of the Styrian Mountains, but it also provides some of the most unique challenges for drivers and teams.
So, here's five things to keep an eye on in the first race weekend of the Austrian Grand Prix double-header.
Blink and you'll miss it...
For a start, The Red Bull Ring is short. Very short. At just 2.6 miles long, it's one of the shortest laps on the calendar. Combined with a high-speed layout and just 10 corners, a lap at Spielberg takes just over a minute to complete.
That makes Austria one of the most hotly contested and exciting Qualifying sessions of the season, with the current lap record standing at just 1:03.130 from Qualifying in 2018.
Get a boost
Few places demonstrate the effective boost of DRS better than the Red Bull Ring. With three DRS zones – across the start/finish line, on the climb up to Turn 3 and along the lengthy back straight – a significant percentage of the lap is spent with the rear wing slot open, should a driver be within one second of his rival at each detection point.
High in the sky
There's more to speed in Austria than just DRS. Second only to Mexico City and São Paulo in terms of altitude, the reduced air density in Spielberg packs a punch.
Not only do the cars effectively have less downforce, but Power Unit and brake cooling become a significant challenge – especially when cars battle in close quarters, which is often the case at the Red Bull Ring!
Hot in here
If the last few seasons are anything to go by, expect warm and sunny weather in Austria. While that sounds pleasant, it's also a headache for teams and drivers.
The combination of hot asphalt and high average corner speeds put a significant amount of stress on the tyres, meaning a delicate balance of pace and conservation is required, while strategy can also play a key part in success.
Pick your spot
Austria's long straights are bookended by slow-speed corners, meaning there are always opportunities for those brave enough to be late on the brakes.
But if we had to choose one? Keep an eye on the steep incline into Turn 3. It's big on braking and big on overtaking, and there's been plenty of spectacular last-gasp lunges here over the years.