The Ferrari Owners’ Club
of Great Britain

GRAND PRIX: Austria: Rosberg Again Prevails

01-07-2014

(report by Steve Lawson-Dickinson (@SteveF1_458)

Round eight of the F1 calendar saw a welcome return to Austria’s Osterreichring, which was renamed  A1-Ring after its sponsor back in 1997. The whole layout was redesigned by non-other than Hermann Tilke, and the track did lose some of its long, sweeping corner being replaced by three tight right handers in order to create overtaking opportunities.

In 2004 billionaire Red Bull owner Dietrich Mateschitz purchased the track and it is now named the Red Bull Ring.

The track itself varies with about 60m of elevation, and the blind Turn 8 being the fastest corner. Due to the altitude The Red Bull Ring suffers from lower down force levels. Considering all that and the three long straights, as well as a twisty infield section, and there has to be a real compromise for set up.

Eight corners and short lap times require power… and of course brakes!

What a race this turned out to be with the Williams’ of Massa and Bottas deservedly locking out the front row in qualifying. It was set for a head to head battle between the up to now all-dominating Mercedes and the revitalised Williams’.

Needless to say the Mercedes as expected, with the extra straight line speed, proved overall still to be the team to beat. Following Hamilton’s unfortunate poor qualifying he totally redeemed himself with an amazing start, jumping from 9th on the grid to 4th and hot on the tail of Rosberg by the end of lap 1. Unfortunately it was never to be for Hamilton as the brake wear was just too much and in the end he finished  second behind a yet again triumphant Rosberg. Bottas earned his first podium in 3rd. Massa, with a small football figurine of Brazil’s Neymar in his pocket belonging to his son finished 4th. The best of the rest probably was Alonso, who for a short spell from lap 45 did lead a race for the first time this year, eventually finishing 5th.

Vettel lost power on lap 2 and was instructed not to use the overtake button, this more than likely also hindered Ricciardo (8th). Vettel retired on lap 36.

On lap 55 Kimi Raikkonen was encouraged to try and gain 0.2s / lap by his engineer, who I’m sure probably regreted asking when Raikkonen replied ‘Then give me more power!!’ over the open radio channel. Raikkonen finish 10th in his F 14T. Raikkonen is apparently struggling with the handling of the Ferrari F 14T, explaining after the race that they had to go down on engine settings and had brake issues from lap 3 onwards.

Ferrari stated that they feel that they are on track as far as development is concerned…. Of course other teams are also pushing hard to improve their performance.

The Williams FW36, like their engine suppliers Mercedes, have now located their intercooler immediately behind the cockpit. This allows them to use smaller, more aerodynamic side pods, with more neatly packaged radiators, close to the Mercedes design. Rivals using Ferrari and Renault engine power have not been able to integrate this layout since their power units group the turbo and compressor together at the rear of the engine.

Ferrari tested a much tighter-fitting engine cover back in Montreal, featuring longer side pods extending further at the rear of the car, finishing inside the rear tyres. The main function of the new configuration was to help the overall cooling, although that came at the cost of downforce. Maybe we’ll see that used at Monza.

One of the biggest areas of development is cooling, and the various locations for cooling exit ducts. Ferrari have an interesting cooling solution. Along the spine of their engine cover they now have an opening which can be completely open or have a louvered panel fitted. It can be completely blocked off too. Which setting to use depends on the conditions – from blocked off in cooler conditions to fully open in hot conditions.

McLaren MP4-29 also had a few changes. In Austria they took the unusual step of exposing their rear brake disc to the wheel rim. This is typically done to channel some of the heat generated by the brakes into warming up the tyres. There is of course a balance to be struck to avoid overheating the brakes and while exposing the disc is usually an effective solution at the front of the car it is normally less so at the rear, where heat can be generated more simply by a touch of wheel spin.

Formula One is never far away from rumour and controversy: the rumour from the pit lane is that McLaren again have sights on Alonso at the cost of Button for their 2015 move to Honda. And at the weekend Red Bull kicked the Mercedes team out of a hotel near to the circuit!