Since being back in Melbourne and enduring temperatures reminiscent to the Arctic, the team are looking forward to getting back up North.
The Townsville Street Circuit winds its way through Reid Park and combines big bumps, kerbs and heavy stops with fast flowing corners to create one hell of a challenge for teams.
Engineers need to work with their drivers to create a set up that works well in all areas, but there’s a particular focus on a car that has good braking stability, tackles the kerbs well and looks after its tyres.
History lesson: It’s almost a decade since we first visited Townsville, this year marking the ninth trip to Far North Queensland.
What makes this track unique: Its mix of existing streets and purpose-built road through the Reid Park precinct.
Grip levels: Various. The specifically constructed roads offer decent levels of grip, while the city streets offer less.
Tyre degradation: Very high.
Run-off: Rare, although we haven’t see any huge crashes. The big braking zones have enough for when the drivers over-do it.
Safety cars: The Safety Car has appeared in 12 of the 17 races held in Townsville, with 2015 the only time one didn’t appear all weekend.
Watch out for: The mirrors, or lack of! Left-hand mirrors don’t agree with this circuit and are usually wiped off during a lap.
Did you know: David Reynolds is one of the few that has a 100% finishing race in Townsville – an impressive feat!
FROM THE BRAINS TRUST
Alistair McVean – Head of Engineering
“The track has a combination of the usual 90-degree corners you find at a street circuit, but also flowing sections on the semi-permanent road, similar to Albert Park. This leads to cars showing different strengths in different parts of the track. Our cars are strongest under braking and on corner exit, where as our weakness has generally been finding enough front grip to keep the mid corner speed up in longer corners. None of these corners exist at Townsville and hence our strengths should definitely come in to play here. If we can maximize the strengths of the car we should be in for a strong result.
“This is a circuit where the car with the best tyre degradation can come through the field to win the race. Left-rear tyre wear is extreme due to the prevalence of long highly loaded right-hand acceleration zones and will need to be managed through a stint length. This means that both the undercut strategy, pitting early and taking advantage of fresh tyre grip, and the long strategy, running longer and coming through on fresher tyres, can both be effective. You must also be aware of the possibility of late race safety cars resulting in the need for an extra pit stop. While qualifying is focused on maximizing performance for one lap, the race package will be heavily focused on a consistent car that protects the left-rear tyre as much as possible.
“Kerb riding also plays an important factor and is something we haven’t had to worry about in much detail since Adelaide. Having a car that can ride the kerbs and settle quickly upon landing will result in significant lap time gain so we will need to ensure that is something we have dialled in. We have been working hard at the factory in this area and expect to see improvements in this area relative to Adelaide; time will tell whether our improvements are enough relative to our competitors.”