The Austrian Grand Prix has been on and off the Formula 1 calendar since 1970 in Spielberg. The rolling mountains make the scenery stunning and the weather extremely changeable. After a bit of a break it returned to the calendar in 2014, just in time for track owners Red Bull’s dominance to come to an end. Thanks to the power-hungry nature of the circuit it was dominated by Mercedes on its return, with Nico Rosberg picking up two wins and Lewis Hamilton and Valtteri Bottas getting one each. That ended in 2018 though, as Red Bull’s Max Verstappen was there to pick up the pieces when both Mercedes retired and Red Bull were finally able to pick up a home win.
On F1 2019 the Austrian Grand Prix is one of the simpler tracks to learn but it does require a unique setup to maximise your race pace. This setup guide will not be the fastest for a time trial, but will provide good one-lap pace combined with solid tyre life. How should you setup your car?
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This part of the setup describes the level of downforce. Higher wing angles provide better grip but at the cost of straight line speed. A good rule of thumb to remember when setting your wing angles is that you should have a lower front wing than rear wing.
For Austria we don’t want much wing angle at all. With just 7 real corners on the lap and 3 lengthy straights we can drop the front wing down a lot. There are some tricky corners late in the lap so we can’t take it off completely, but a 2 front wing should be manageable.
The rear wing can’t be that low or we will lose the back end every time we turn in, but it should be as low as you can bare in the final sector. That should be around 4.
The transmission section is about how the power is deployed through the rear wheels and into the tarmac. Traction is vital here, especially with the exit of turn 3, but you don’t want to burn out the rear tyres by locking up the on-throttle differential too much. This part of the setup really depends on how much traction control assist you use. The less TC used the more you want to unlock the on-throttle differential. We have gone for a 65% on-throttle differential here. Remember, this is a setting you can change in the race, so it isn’t vital to get this spot on before you hit the track.
The off-throttle differential describes how free the wheels are to rotate when you are not on the power. This is important when cornering. A locked up off-throttle diff forces the tyres to rotate at more similar rates. This provides more stability on corner entry and better traction on exit as the wheels are already rotating closer together, however it adds to tyre wear as it drags the outside tyre during cornering. We have gone for an 80% off-throttle differential here to give us that little traction boost and stability when throwing it into the last few corners.
This is one of the most tricky parts of a setup to get right. If you just lift a setup off the top of the time trial lists you will often see maxed out camber settings and minimum toe settings. These are consistently fastest for one lap pace in Codemasters games, but they can ruin tyre life in a race.
The benefit of adding camber, especially on the front tyres, is improving responsiveness on turn in. That is very nice to have so we will add two clicks of front camber to -2.80 but leave the rears at -1.50 just to keep that balance between traction, stability, tyre wear, and responsiveness.
Toe should be reduced, but not all the way. We have taken front toe down to 0.08 to again improve responsiveness. Rear toe comes to 0.32, a drop but less of one than the front, to add some stability to the rear end.
This is perhaps the most important part of the whole setup. Each section works in tandem with one another, but a poor suspension setting can ruin an otherwise strong setup. It is also perhaps the most user-specific part. If you have a tendency to throw the car into corners then your best suspension will not suit a smoother driver. What we have gone for here should be applicable for most styles, but you should start customising this setup by tweaking these settings.
We have gone for a very soft suspension set up of 2-2. This allows a more free transfer of weight and can reduce stability, but with limited corners and very simple braking and acceleration zones we don’t need too much of that. It also helps reduce tyre wear.
We have stiffened up the anti-roll bars to 10-7, which will help increase responsiveness on turn-in. This increases tyre wear, but again without any real prolonged corners it isn’t too deadly to the rubber. The rear anti-roll bars are softer than the front as this allows weight to shift onto the outside-rear tyre of a corner, improving drive albeit to the creation of a little understeer.
That slight understeer added there is countered by using ride height to create a rake. The 3-4 setting adds some oversteer to the car and makes it more pointy into the slow corners while letting the car hunker down on the straights. It does make it riskier to ride the kerbs for a prolonged time though, so if you are intent on that then you’ll need to raise the car a bit.
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Stopping power is important around the Red Bull Ring. With a couple of big braking zones that bring you from 200+ mph to effectively crawling speed you will want to up the brake pressure, but with that comes an increase in the risk of locking up and flatspotting your tyres. If you use the ABS assist then you can push your brake pressure as high as 90% without worrying about much, but if you don’t then an 80% brake pressure is you safest point.
The front brake bias is about how much of the work the front brakes do. Moving the bias rearward helps keep the car responsive on turn-in. It is a feature you can change in the race and is a good tool to correct any over/understeer you may be experiencing that you don’t like. We have set the brake bias at 54%.
Tyre pressure seems like a small thing but it can do a lot of work as it defines the amount of rubber in contact with the road. Increasing the front tyre pressure will reduce the contact patch, making the front end more responsive and increasing straight-line speed while adding to wear. We have added one click of pressure to 23.4 psi here.
With the rears we have reduced the pressure slightly to 21.1 psi. This helps increase traction at the cost of slight top speed and reduces some tyre wear.
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So that is our Austrian Grand Prix setup for F1 2019. It is well balanced, providing plenty of tyre life for strategy flexibility as well as good performance in all sectors and enough outright pace to keep you competitive in qualifying. Keep your eyes peeled for a wet setup which will come soon!
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