The second leg of Formula One’s first ever triple header takes us from from France to Austria, and the home of Red Bull.
The Red Bull Ring is the host circuit, but all the talks is about Mercedes coming in and how impressive they were at Circuit Paul Ricard with Lewis Hamilton claiming the win in comfortable fashion.
But Max Verstappen was second for Red Bull and he will be spearheading their challenge on home turf this weekend, alongside team-mate Daniel Ricciardo.
Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettell lost ground on Hamilton in the Drivers’ Championship and history is against the German, with Mercedes dominating at the Ring, winning every race it has hosted since returning to the calendar in 2014.
— Red Bull Racing (@redbullracing) June 27, 2018
Red Bull are desperate for a good showing at their home circuit and Verstappen is looking for a third straight podium, and wants to avoid crashing early as he did in 2017.
“The Austrian Grand Prix is always a special one, it is of course the home of Red Bull so we have a good following of Austrian fans and also a lot of Dutch,” said Verstappen.
“Last year ended way too soon due to contact at Turn 1 so I’ll be out to make up for that this year. The track is a fun lap, sector two is definitely my favourite part of the circuit.”
Mercedes new engines looked very good in Canada and further upgrades are expected, but Hamilton is expecting a healthy threat from all sides – but particularly Red Bull.
“It’s been a decent track for us in the past, so I don’t see why it should be any different now. I think the car should be good there. I think the Red Bulls have been particularly quick there in the past because it’s quite a good downforce circuit, so it’ll be interesting,” said Hamilton.
“As you’re seeing, it’s great that our cars are quite close in qualifying nowadays, but positioning is everything really in qualifying there because at that track you can’t really overtake… Even though you’ve got those long straights, it’s very, very difficult to overtake because you can’t follow another car through Turn One. It’s going to be about who qualifies where, isn’t it?”
— Red Bull Ring (@redbullring_) June 27, 2018
One man on the paddock looking forward to what is his home Grand Prix is Mercedes chief Toto Wolff.
“Personally, I’m looking forward to returning to Spielberg. The track holds a very special place in my heart as I did my first laps at the old Osterreichring when I was young,” he said.
“After Formula One returned to the track in 2014, it quickly became one of the favourite places of the entire F1 calendar, not the least thanks to the upgraded facilities and the excellent organisation of the event.
“We’re going to Austria leading both the constructors’ and the drivers’ championships, but we know that we will once again get every detail right if we want a chance to win the race.
“The relatively short lap in Austria makes the circuit challenging as it closes up the field in qualifying and will make the margins even tighter.
“We will aim to hit the ground running as qualifying is particularly important because overtaking has historically been tricky despite the long straights.”
AUSTRIA GRAND PRIX – ROUND 9
Location: Red Bull Ring, Spielberg, Austria
Track size: 2.683 miles with 10 turns
Number of laps: 71
2017 winner: Valterri Bottas Mercedes
Lap record holder: Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 1:07.411
Australian Grand Prix – Winner: Sebastian Vettel (Ferrari)
Bahrain Grand Prix – Winner: Sebastian Vettel (Ferrari)
China Grand Prix – Winner: Daniel Ricciardo (Red Bull)
Azerbaijan Grand Prix – Winner: Lewis Hamilton (Mercedes)
Spain Grand Prix – Winner: Lewis Hamilton (Mercedes)
Monaco Grand Prix – Winner: Daniel Ricciardo (Red Bull)
Canada Grand Prix – Winner: Sebastian Vettel (Ferrari)
France Grand Prix – Winner: Lewis Hamilton (Mercedes)
1 Lewis Hamilton GBR MERCEDES 145
2 Sebastian Vettel GER FERRARI 131
3 Daniel Ricciardo AUS RED BULL RACING TAG HEUER 96
4 Valtteri Bottas FIN MERCEDES 92
5 Kimi Räikkönen FIN FERRARI 83
6 Max Verstappen NED RED BULL RACING TAG HEUER 68
7 Nico Hulkenberg GER RENAULT 34
8 Fernando Alonso ESP MCLAREN RENAULT 32
9 Carlos Sainz ESP RENAULT 28
10 Kevin Magnussen DEN HAAS FERRARI 27
11 Pierre Gasly FRA SCUDERIA TORO ROSSO HONDA 18
12 Sergio Perez MEX FORCE INDIA MERCEDES 17
13 Esteban Ocon FRA FORCE INDIA MERCEDES 11
14 Charles Leclerc MON SAUBER FERRARI 11
15 Stoffel Vandoorne BEL MCLAREN RENAULT 8
16 Lance Stroll CAN WILLIAMS MERCEDES 4
17 Marcus Ericsson SWE SAUBER FERRARI 2
18 Brendon Hartley NZL SCUDERIA TORO ROSSO HONDA 1
19 Romain Grosjean FRA HAAS FERRARI 0
20 Sergey Sirotkin RUS WILLIAMS MERCEDES 0
1 MERCEDES 237
2 FERRARI 214
3 RED BULL RACING TAG HEUER 164
4 RENAULT 62
5 MCLAREN RENAULT 40
6 FORCE INDIA MERCEDES 28
7 HAAS FERRARI 27
8 SCUDERIA TORO ROSSO HONDA 19
9 SAUBER FERRARI 13
10 WILLIAMS MERCEDES 4
We also spoke with Alistair Gill of Unibet to their their views on the GP
Lewis Hamilton is expected to continue his recent domination and press on yet again from his dominant win at the French GP as the F1 roadshow rolls in to Austria. Although ‘generously’ priced to top Free Practice 1 at 6/4, you won’t get odds against anywhere else across the weekend on the Englishman, 4/6 to take pole on Saturday and 9/10 for the race win on Sunday.
Nearest challenger Sebastian Vettel will have to do a lot more than just improve on his opening corner crash last time out and odds of 21/10 show that once again it is expected to be the Lewis Hamilton show for the duration of the weekend