|The Racing Engineering team will arrive at the Red Bull Ring for the fourth round of the 2015 GP2 Series, lying second in the Team Standings and with their driver Alexander Rossi similarly in second place in the Drivers’ Championship. Both Alexander and his teammate Jordan King have been competitive in both qualifying and racing his season and they will both be looking to continue scoring points and to stand on the podium in Austria.
Below Alan Queille, Engineer at the Racing Engineering team, looks back at the Monaco round and forward to the Red Bull Ring this weekend.
The results obtained during the Monaco event brought some mixed emotions. How would you describe the weekend overall?
The weekend was good in terms of performance as we grabbed pole position with Alex and Jordan was quite quick given that this was his first time in Monaco. We missed the fastest lap in race 2 by just a few hundredths, but we expected more points. We lost the win as Alex was a bit delayed at the pit stop by the team in front of our stoppage area, and Jordan was set for around P6 before the Virtual Safety Car period. On top of that, Jordan’s big accident in race 2 and the penalty received for it, adds to the disappointment of the weekend.
Monaco is the slowest circuit on the calendar and the Red Bull Ring in Austria is also a quite short circuit. Where are the main differences between them?
The main difference between Monaco and Red Bull Ring is the number of straight lines with top speed. At the Red Bull Ring the maximum speed is reached 4 times, whereas in Monaco only once. There are more medium speed corner at the Red Bull Ring compared to Monaco where there is only one straight line and plenty of slow speed corners. These characteristics mean that the average speed at the Red Bull Ring is significantly higher than in Monaco.
Austria is a track with few straight lines, some ups and downs in the landscape, curves, extreme speed and bumps, so quite an exciting mix… What are the crucial points for engineers when it comes to set up and preparing for the sessions?
The crucial points, when preparing for any event, are basically down to the track characteristics: number and types of corners, lengths of the straight lines, hard on braking or not. Even if the Red Bull Ring doesn’t have a lot of corners, there are only 9, it offers a mix of types that makes it interesting and challenging to find a good balance in terms of set-up: there are very slow speed corners, like corner 2 after a hard braking area, a sequence of medium speed corners in the middle of the track and a very fast turn to finish the lap. For the races, our focus lies more on the tyre wear, last year, the Red Bull Ring was one of the tracks with the lowest tyre degradation. During free practice and qualifying our focus will mainly be on how it is in the season with the softer Option Compound. We will also keep a close look on the weather forecast; especially at a place like Spielberg, where the weather can change quickly as we saw last year in free practice.
On a track like this, where drivers have little time to rest, with fast turns and heavy braking zones, what and where are the biggest challenges for the drivers?
The Red Bull Ring is quite a technical track. The first part is all about top speed and braking points. The second half is more about the minimum speed and the rhythm to get into in this turning section. These characteristics are also fundamental during the race, where you can observe a lot of overtaking from T1 to T3 but it’s nearly impossible to pass on the second half of the track.
But the biggest challenge of the Red Bull Ring lies in its length. As it is so short, the lap times are very close between all drivers. Every mistake can result in positions lost.
Last year was the first time GP2 raced in Austrian and Racing Engineering had a very strong performance in both races. Can we expect something similar this year?
The first task is to have good qualifying results, as mentioned above, the lap times are expected to be very close between the first fifteen drivers due to the track characteristics. Jordan is receiving a 3 grid place penalty for the Monaco incident which underlines that qualifying will be very important for him. Compared to last year, we will have DRS and also the softer Option Compound, and all teams have one year of experience on this track now. But the entire Racing Engineering team is pushing hard to have both of our cars in a position to fight for good results at the Red Bull Ring.