How F1 teams will attack the Austrian GP season opener

Matt Somerfield

The first race, first scheduled as the 11th round of the championship, occupies its same original date on the calendar so will throw up its usual challenges.

So allied to the normal hot weather and potential for storms, the dominating characteristic that will be on the team's minds is that the Red Bull Ring sits 660m above sea-level and puts them on the back foot as they do their best to reach the best cooling and aerodynamic compromise.

But added to the mix this year of the Austria challenge is the fact that teams are all bringing updates that were planned for races that should have taken place. So it will be a step into the unknown.

As James Allison, Mercedes technical director recently explained, there is months of development work that can now be rolled into one major upgrade.

"A lot of time has passed since we launched this car and if you imagine the car that would have gone to Australia, that was frozen around about Christmas.," he said.

"So, there was the whole of January, February, March - all making the car quicker in the wind tunnel and design departments. So we've got quite a lot of ideas about how to make it quicker.

"And quite a lot of those ideas were already in progress before we were forced to shut down nine weeks ago. So, our challenge now is to make sure that quarter of a year's worth of development can get off the drawing boards and onto the car as swiftly as possible and we hope to have a chunk of that for the first race in Austria."

Red Bull Racing technical detail

Red Bull Racing technical detail Giorgio Piola

Giorgio Piola

Red Bull has previously been well adept at mastering the aero compromises that come from opening the cooling in Austria.

Continuing to use a saddle-style cooler arrangement above the power unit, as can be seen above, the team might even consider using the cooling outlet in the engine cover's spine in Austria.

Mercedes AMG F1 W10, barge board

Mercedes AMG F1 W10, barge board Giorgio Piola

Giorgio Piola

The team has already suggested that it is unlikely to develop the RP20 extensively throughout 2020, although it's likely it will introduce an update package in Austria that was originally assigned for Australia.

The update sees changes to the bargeboards, sidepod deflectors and associated aerodynamic furniture in furtherance of its Mercedes mimicry, as the Silver Arrows introduced a similar package at the Japanese Grand Prix last season.

Meanwhile, at Haas it will wait on the announcement of the full calendar before planning its development programme, according to Gunther Steiner.

"We are not planning any upgrades until we know exactly what we are doing this year budget wise, and what we are doing race wise," he said.

Coping with cooling

Here we look at how teams have reacted to the headache of managing the cooling in Austria in the past, with the high altitude meaning that engines need more air.

Mercedes AMG F1 W10, rear

Mercedes AMG F1 W10, rear Giorgio Piola

Giorgio Piola

Mercedes W10 rear end with a slightly larger rear cooling outlet.

Mercedes F1 AMG W10, cooling

Mercedes F1 AMG W10, cooling Giorgio Piola

Giorgio Piola

The larger of the louvred cockpit panels used by Mercedes featured on the W10 in Austria

Red Bull Racing RB15, rear

Red Bull Racing RB15, rear Giorgio Piola

Giorgio Piola

The larger rear cooling outlet on the Red Bull RB16 at the Austrian GP in 2019.

Red Bull Racing RB15, side

Red Bull Racing RB15, side Giorgio Piola

Giorgio Piola

The interchangeable panels alongside the cockpit and halo on the RB16 allow for different cooling parameters. In this case the team chose to have an opening where the bodywork blends out of the halo structure and a row of louvres to enable heat to escape.

Ferrari SF90, rear

Ferrari SF90, rear Giorgio Piola

Giorgio Piola

Ferrari using a larger cooling outlet at the rear of the SF90 in Austria relative to some of the lower altitude circuits.

Ferrari SF90, cooling

Ferrari SF90, cooling Giorgio Piola

Giorgio Piola

Ferrari had a double cooling arrangement alongside the cockpit, one outlet formed by the transition of the halo and a three louvre panel.

Haas F1 Team VF-19, cooling

Haas F1 Team VF-19, cooling Giorgio Piola

Giorgio Piola

Haas looked to evacuate airflow and heat from the upper surface of the sidepod with a louvred panel and a transition outlet.

Alfa Romeo Racing C38, rear

Alfa Romeo Racing C38, rear Giorgio Piola

Giorgio Piola

A suitably large rear cooling outlet was used at the rear of the Alfa Romeo C38.

Racing Point RP19, rear

Racing Point RP19, rear Giorgio Piola

Giorgio Piola

Racing Point used a particularly large rear cooling outlet in Austria last season.

Renault R.S. 19, rear

Renault R.S. 19, rear Giorgio Piola

Giorgio Piola

The Renault R19 had possibly one of the largest rear outlets on display in Austria in order to reject the heat created by the Renault power unit.

Williams Racing FW42, rear

Williams Racing FW42, rear Giorgio Piola

Giorgio Piola

Meanwhile, Williams gave them a run for their money in the largest outlet stakes with a large rear cooling outlet of their own.