Events

Austrian F1 GP Set To Test the Mettle And Metal.

Mercedes have revealed that, although their cars have been the standard bearers in the 2019 F1 season so far, beneath the surface things haven’t been as shiny and good-looking as they seemed. It’s been revealed that at the last two rounds, at France’s Paul-Ricard and Canada’s Gilles-Villeneuve. In Canada the team had unspecified issues for Lewis Hamilton’s car and had the car ready for the race just minutes for the gate curfew. In France last weekend they’d identified sensor issues and again had to work fast to, in this case, pull the engine and transmission from the car to amend the problem.

Add to this the fact that both Bottas and Hamilton failed to finish in Austria last year with hydraulics for Bottas and fuel pressure delivery problems for Hamilton. Team leader Toto Wolff says: “A double DNF after a promising front-row lockout meant that we left a lot of points on the table. The race was a cruel reminder how quickly things can go wrong in our sport and that reliability and performance go hand-in-hand in Formula 1.”

Lando Norris at Mclaren knows only too well how important a fully working car is inside a F1 race. Just over halfway through last weekend’s race in France, his car started losing hydraulic pressure, which lead to one of the best drives in an ailing F1 car seen in recent times. The car’s differential lost performance, and his steering, having to deal with the aero forces of a car at well over 200 kmh, would have been heavy and leaden.  His gearbox’s shifting was also affected and the brakes would have fought him at every opportunity. Somehow he still managed to finish 9th.2019’s perennial runners up, Ferrari, will also be hoping things hold together. Aero updates for France appeared to have taken the team backwards in the case of Sebastian Vettel, whilst Charles Leclerc scored a needed third place for both himself at the Prancing Horse. Mattia Binotto, Ferrari’s team principal said: “The forecast is for very hot conditions, so it will be a demanding weekend on the cooling front, both for the engine and the brakes, which means tire management will also be very difficult.”

Ferrari tried different front wing endplates or winglets, changes to the rear wings and to the brake ducts. Even the floor was modified. There were extra vortex generators on the outside which are intended to accelerate airflow around the extremities of the body to help create downforce on other parts of the body.Renault are in the same basket. They went with a reprofiled area near the engine and cooling system that changed the airflow as well. This change would be for a low pressure area to be filled by “outside” air filling the gap. This air works with the body shape and diffuser to give an extra boost. The nose fin had been reprofiled to redirect air, air which would then handshake with the body and floor to also add boost.These changes, and no doubt for the other teams as well, will be crucial for Austria’s circuit. With mid-length straights, tight corners, and little track space to cool brakes, aero is possibly more important here. At just 4.3 kilometres in length, it takes 71 laps to complete 306 kilometres. The start line is midway on the first of three straights on an uphill inclination before going downhill with a few good turns to bring speed down. Kimi Raikkonen holds the lap record at a breath under 1:07.

Practice starts for the Formula 1 Myword Grosser Preis Von Österreich 2019 at 11:00 on Friday, June 28.

 

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David Conole

Dave Conole is the former long-term circuit commentator for Sydney Motorsport Park, has worked trackside at the Australian F1 Grand Prix in Melbourne and is self-employed as an automotive content producer.

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