Austrian GP: Renault technical preview

Comments from the Renault technical team ahead of the Austrian Grand Prix Mike Gascoyne -- Technical Director Q: What conclusions did you draw from the fantastic weekend's racing in Spain? MG: Throughout the whole weekend in Spain, our cars...

Comments from the Renault technical team ahead of the Austrian Grand Prix

Mike Gascoyne -- Technical Director

Q: What conclusions did you draw from the fantastic weekend's racing in Spain?

MG: Throughout the whole weekend in Spain, our cars showed that they can be very competitive and this resulted in Fernando's excellent second place. However, Jarno's accident was a disappointment, however, as he was also in a position to finish in the points. Still, itms encouraging to see that we are capable of battling it out with the top teams and even making it onto the podium.

Q: What part of the car did you focus on in testing last week at the Paul Ricard circuit?

MG: We worked closely with Michelin to get the tyres right for the upcoming races in Austria and Monaco. We also made some final adjustments to the engine version to be used at the Austrian Grand Prix. In terms of aerodynamics, we just did the normal work as we don't anticipate there being any major changes for this Grand Prix.

Q: The A1-Ring is a very different circuit from Barcelona, but do you think the R23 will be able to compete on this track? And what will the R23's strong points be in Austria?

MG: The A1-Ring certainly is very different from the Spanish circuit: it features slower bends leading into straights where the cars are flat-out. This favours the cars with better engine performance over those with the best aerodynamics. It's going to be a difficult race as we have to expect that we are going to be less competitive than we were in Spain. Nevertheless, the engine development we have been working on should give us some additional horsepower to work with, enabling us to boost performance.

Pat Symonds -- Executive Director of Engineering Overall view

"The characteristics of the A1-Ring remain very constant throughout the race. There is a series of bends taken in first or second gear followed by straights which last 8 to 10 seconds and require very good levels of acceleration. As a result when we are setting up the cars we must concentrate first and foremost on performance in the slow sections and in particular under braking and acceleration back up to speed."

"At the same time, it is essential not to lose sight of the fact that we need to be getting the maximum possible speed out of the cars at the end of the straights as there are only two points where it is possible to overtake on this circuit. As the track is normally very dirty on the Friday, it makes it difficult for us to set up the car and choose the tyres: having said that, thanks to our additional Friday testing, we will be able to gather valuable data, to be used during the race as we did last year."

"Apart from the slow bends, there are also two fast left-handers (bends 5 and 6) which are tough because the outer part of the tyre will not have reached its optimum operating temperature. Another characteristic of the circuit is that it is very short (scarcely more than a minute a lap): the gaps between the drivers are very tight in qualifying, and the slightest mistake can be costly."

"Lastly, the circuit is at altitude: the atmospheric pressure is therefore lower, at around 935 millibars, and this means that engine and aerodynamic performance suffer as a result."

Q: What role will tyres play in this race?

PS: It is difficult to get the tyres right on this circuit: some parts of the track require very soft tyres while other sections cause heavy tyre wear, particularly under acceleration. Add to this the fact that the circuit is normally very dirty on the Friday, meaning that it's not easy to carry out any proper assessment of your tyre choice: this is why we will only make our final selection on Saturday just prior to qualifying.

Q: Is race strategy particularly decisive on this track?

PS: There will be more interest in race strategy this year than before. We will choose the strategy which best suits our cars, whilst taking into account the fact that it is possible to overtake here, though only at two points on the circuit. This factor combined with the chosen tyre type will be decisive for our strategy.

Q: Do you plan to make any adjustments to the car for this circuit?

PS: This circuit demands a very different setup from that used at Barcelona. We have to make do with less downforce. We will also be looking at getting the best possible traction out of the slow bends: our setup must factor in these two parameters.

Denis Chevrier -- Engine Operations Manager Engine preview

Q: How does the Renault F1 Team's engine division prepare for a Grand Prix at altitude?

The Austrian GP is one of the 2 circuits (the other being Sao Paulo) at an altitude of 700 metres. It is absolutely essential not to disregard the importance of this factor, as Denis Chevrier, Renault F1 Team's Head of Race Engineering (Engine) explains.

"In an engine, the oxygen in the air burns with the fuel, causing combustion which in turn releases heat. The more oxygen we can get into the engine, the greater the power generated will be. At altitude, the air is less dense, therefore, for the same volume of air aspirated by the engine."

"The quantity of oxygen going into the engine is less. This means that the engine develops less power, given that we cannot alter the speed at which the engine runs and so cannot modify the amount of air it takes in. At sea level, atmospheric pressure is 1000 millibars, whereas here it is only 930 millibars: the loss in engine performance is therefore around 7%".

Q: How can you compensate for this loss of power?

"That is where the electronic control system takes over" continues Denis "analysing the data to make the necessary overall corrections and ensure that the engine continues to run satisfactorily".

"Although the engine power generated is lower due to the altitude, this does not mean things are any easier on the engine because the layout of the A1-Ring is reputed to make it one of the 2 most difficult courses on the Grand Prix calendar."

"It features three flat-out sixth gear straights where the engines will be at their maximum, and a very slow bend which will favour engines with good acceleration. It's a circuit where the engines are under full load for very long periods. However, the heat, which could further downgrade engine performance, is not going to be a major factor here.

Q: At the Austrian Grand Prix you will bring a new spec engine: could you tell us more about this new step in the engine evolution?

"At the Austrian Grand Prix, Renault F1 Team will introduce a new specification of the RS23 engine, with improvements related to the injection and lubrification systems. Itms a first step forward in the development of the RS23."


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About this article
Series Formula 1
Drivers Mike Gascoyne
Teams Renault F1 Team