As predicted, race strategy was decisive at the Austrian Grand Prix. The Key Strategic Moment came when MERCEDES AMG PETRONAS decided to put their drivers on different tire compounds for the final stint. Lewis Hamilton’s soft tires were faster at the end than Nico Rosberg’s supersofts and they collided as they battled for the lead on the last lap. Max Verstappen and Kimi Rӓikkӧnen, who both managed a one-stop strategy, inherited second and third from Rosberg..
James Allen on F1, UBS F1 Expert
Surprise points for McLaren? What is McLaren Honda’s winning strategy for Austria?
McLaren Honda continue to play catch up on the power unit and with three straights at the Red Bull Ring where cars reach 300km/h, it will be another difficult weekend for the team in Austria. The Energy Recovery System (ERS) will be challenged with very few braking zones, so demands on power will be high. Success for McLaren would be to qualify one car in the top ten before going on to an alternative race strategy favoring the ultrasoft tire, in an attempt to finish in the points.
Surprise points for McLaren How did they perform in Austria?
We picked McLaren Honda as a team to watch in Austria and Jenson Button duly delivered by qualifying third in changeable conditions and finishing in a fine sixth place. The team decided to go with a positive two-stop strategy on Button’s car, taking advantage of the two new sets of soft tires that they had saved. The cool temperatures on the day also played into McLaren’s hands as other teams struggled at the Red Bull Ring.
Race Strategy Briefing
A quick lap
This is the shortest lap of the F1 season. With a grippier new surface and improvements in power units since last year, lap times in qualifying are predicted to be around 65s.
Supersofts are crucial
Usually a one-stop race as tire degredation is not especially high. However, much will depend on the performance of the supersoft, which was disappointing in Montreal’s cool temperatures.
Fast pit stops
The pit lane is relatively short so pit stops take around 21 seconds, which makes the option of an extra stop and racing on faster tires potentially attractive.
Some big stops
Although it’s a simple layout, there are three braking points at this track where the car and driver experience around 5g of deceleration.
A power circuit
At 65% of the lap at full throttle, this is a power circuit like Spa and Monza. Also the track is at high altitude, which makes the turbo spin quicker at around 100,000rpm.
July 03 | 14:00 local time, 14:00 CET
The Red Bull Ring, near Graz in Austria, returned to the Formula 1 calendar in 2014 after a hiatus since 2003, and it has played host to numerous memorable races in its previous twenty-five Grands Prix. Following a re-design of the original Österreichring by Hermann Tilke in 1996, the Spielberg circuit consists of much undulation and a combination of fast and slow corners, sure to make it a spectacle for fans. Michael Schumacher claimed victory in the two most recent races before the break here - although his 2002 win caused plenty of controversy as Ferrari ordered Rubens Barrichello, Schumacher’s team-mate and the race leader, to let the German past on the final lap to open up his lead in the FIA Formula One World Championship™. There has only been one winner here since the circuit returned to the Formula 1 calendar: Nico Rosberg, who triumphed in 2014 and 2015.
Circuit length: 4.326 km
Race distance: 307.02
Pirelli allocation: Ultrasoft / Supersoft / Soft
With the shortest lap of the season at less than 70 seconds, the grid is always tight which means qualifying is crucial. The four long straights also mean that getting past a car that has good straight-line speed is not easy. Track temperatures can vary a lot from day-to-day making tire performance hard to judge. In 2015 the clear strategy was for a two-stop race with the first stint on supersoft tires and then the two remaining stints on soft tires. The timing of those stops was key though because this is a track where the aggressive 'undercut' - pitting before your rival to force him to come in earlier than planned - certainly works for a team that can look after the tires better than its rivals.
In collaboration with James Allen