Lewis Hamilton is out to continue his push for the title this weekend, as he chases a fifth straight Formula 1 race victory. The reigning champion is having a brilliant season, with Mercedes still streets ahead of the rest of the pack in the battle for silverware this term.
Mercedes are out to add to their impressive lead across the board with another success as this weekend’s Austrian Grand Prix. Will we see a fightback from either Ferrari or Red Bull? Can anyone wrestle in and stop another Mercedes 1-2 finish this weekend? Based on recent results, it’s hard to see who could stop the Silver Arrows.
We’re heading into the ninth race of the season, with this return to Austria. This race returned to the calendar in 2014, after dropping out after the 2003 renewal. Since it returned it’s been held at the Red Bull Ring in Spielberg, making it a vital part of the F1 schedule once again.
|9/21||Austria||Red Bull Ring||306km / 71 Laps|
|Date||Start Time||Finish Time||Forecast Conditions||TV Coverage|
|Practice 1||Fri 28th June||10:00||11:30||Dry / 19°||–|
|Practice 2||Fri 28th June||14:00||15:30||Dry / 19°||–|
|Practice 3||Sat 29th June||11:00||12:30||Dry / 18°||–|
|Qualifying||Sat 29th June||14:00||15:30||Dry / 18°||Sky F1|
|Race||Sun 30th June||14:10||16:10||Dry / 22°||Sky F1|
Last Season’s Result (2018)
Last year’s race saw Max Verstappen emerge victorious, as he saw off competition from Ferrari. There were issues for Mercedes in Austria last year, which led to issues forcing both Lewis Hamilton and Valtteri Bottas to drop out early. Hamilton pulled up just nine laps from the finish line, which allowed the chasing pack to move in.
Verstappen jumped from fourth on the grid to take first place, with a decent advantage over the rest. He was followed by Kimi Raikkonen, with Sebastian Vettel completing the top three. The German surely regretted his display in Austria. While he did move back on top of the standings after the race, he could have been 11 points clear had he won.
|1||Max Verstappen||Red Bull||4||25|
|6||Esteban Ocon||Force India||11||8|
|7||Sergio Perez||Force India||15||6|
Race News: Sides Desperate to Close the Gap
Once again, Mercedes are flying under the radar this week. It’s their opponents who are in the spotlight, with the contenders promising that they’ll do whatever it takes to close the gap. This week it’s Red Bull who are talking about their plans, but they’re incredibly realistic. Their underperformance hasn’t gone unnoticed, which has forced them to admit they need to improve every element of their car in order to compete at the very top.
Ferrari are in the same boat, while it does look like it’s too late for them to rescue anything this season. Vettel said the team had failed in France last weekend as they were unable to close in on the Mercedes pair. That’s left them promising further tests during practice at the Red Bull Ring as they aim to close the gap on the top two. However, as we approach the half-way point of the season it’s probably too little, too late; they’re simply not going to see a dramatic turnaround in their fortunes this weekend. These are long term aims for the rest, setting up Mercedes for another strong race.
Analysis: Mercedes Hopeful Over Austrian Return
Mercedes come into this race with a pretty strong record in Austria over recent years. They enjoyed success here before 2014, but they’ve been brilliant at the Red Bull Ring. Four wins in five races is a great record, one which should be a fine confidence boost, as if the Silver Arrows even need it right now.
Mercedes have won every race this season, with Hamilton claiming six victories in eight. After his great finish to 2018, he’s far and away the form man in F1. Given that no one has been able to really stop Mercedes so far, we think their domination will last a little longer.
Final Verdict: Hamilton To Win
Once again we’re going with Lewis Hamilton as our pick to win this Grand Prix. He’s built up some brilliant momentum, while we know it’s been a happy hunting ground here for Mercedes over the years. Right now, no one in F1 can touch the speed of Mercedes, while Hamilton is the best driver around. He has shown that time and time again this year, so he’ll be expected to record another win.
Hamilton is bearing down on Michael Schumacher’s race wins record, while he could land another victory to move within 10 wins of Schumacher this weekend. He’s priced up as the favourite for glory in Austria, but at odds of 4/6 we see some worth in backing Hamilton once again. We’re tipping him to take maximum points in Austria. Meanwhile, a third straight podium finish for Charles Leclerc at 4/6 is another appealing bet, as he could well emerge as first choice at Ferrari by the end of the season.
About the Austrian Grand Prix
There are few Grand Prix’s that have a more spectacular backdrop than the Austrian, as it’s surrounded by the lush hills and forest of the Austrian countryside. The track is one of the more popular ones on the circuit and whilst small, possess a number of tricky corners for the drivers to navigate through.
The track is currently known as the Red Bull Ring, who were able to revive the track from what was a number of financial issues from the previous owners. It’s previous name of the Osterreichring is one that is still referred to and whilst it has hosted many F1 Grand Prix’s, it hasn’t always been a firm fixture.
The lush green hills of Spielberg play host to the track and fans flock to see cars racing flat out in what is arguably the most breath taking natural backdrop that both drivers and fans will see all season.
The 4.3km track has one of the biggest elevation changes as well, with it rising 63.5 meters in total, meaning that drivers have an added issue to contend with in the form of this. The track only includes 9 corners, which is the fewest in the calendar and includes 2 DRS zones that encourage overtaking due to the high speeds and steep breaking zones that are on offer.
The winding corners and long straight test the drivers reflex to the absolute maximum, and whilst short drivers often say that over the course of the race, it’s highly draining for this exact reason.
The drivers come across the start finish line and see a big elevation rise up to turn 1. The elevation change is something that is often hard for the drivers to grasp as it means they are actually able to break a little later than they would if the track was flat. It allows them to shorten the zone quite considerably, but often drivers will get caught out.
As the work hard to maintain traction early in the race, the drivers then swing through and back down as the driver’s head down one of the main straights of the racetrack and into turn 2. As one of the fastest parts of the track, the drivers see well over 5G worth of force applied and the drivers squat down into a tight apex.
The run down to turn three sees cars pick up great speed again, but the breaking zone is another one that is tough to judge for the drivers as it’s descending back down the hill, meaning they need to break a little earlier than they would on the flat. The corner is a short apex, one which means that drivers spend a lot of time struggling for traction on the outside of the corner and really fighting with the car as a result.
The drivers then go through a small kink, which is classed as turn 4, although no issues for the drivers as the take it flat out. They then come to the 2 main corners on the racetrack, with turn 5 seeing them fighting for grip and traction. They then drop down into turn 6, a slightly faster corner than turn 5 and through turn 7.
This section of the track sees a huge amount of speed and momentum carried and into the blind brow of turn 8. This is another area that catches a lot of drivers out, often running wide and losing valuable time at the end of the run.
The final corner, turn 9, sees another tight apex before drivers try and use as much as the track as possible on the exit kerb, often fighting for grip at the same time. The run down across the start/finish line sees another of the DRS zones and across the line to complete the short, but highly exciting circuit.
The original formation of the Osterreichring in 1969 was one of the fastest and most exciting in Europe at the time. It meant that drivers had to drop no lower than 3rdgear from a 5-speed gearbox that were used at the time, with speed being a priority.
But, the track aged quite badly and simply wasn’t able to hold up to the speeds and the demands of the modern race car, with many labelling it unsafe. It closed its doors between 2003 and 2011, when Red bull came in and made the necessary changes it needed to function as a racetrack again.
The grandstands and pit lanes were fully demolished and new building installed to replace them, making them much more desirable to the now multi-billion-dollar business that was Formula 1. It took until 2014 to see a return to F1 racing and since then has been a popular and firm fixture on the Grand Prix calendar.
1984 – LAUDER BEATS PROST
The battle between Niki Lauder and Alain Prost was at its peak in 1984, with the pair going head to head once again in Austria. The pair would qualify on the first two rows of the grid, but it was Lauder who was to get the better of the race and eventually win, with Prost eventually returning after spinning off in his chase of Lauder.
The race was very much thought to be a turning point in the season, with Lauder then going on to finish no worse than 4thin the final 4 races of the season to win the Drivers’ Championship by just 0.5 points.
2016 – HAMILTON BEATS ROSBERG; LOSES TITLE
The 2016 race at Austria was one of the most dramatic. It was Lewis Hamilton who came into the race in pole position, finishing ahead of team mate Nico Rosberg. Rosberg had a 24-point advantage over Hamilton in the Championship, after a poor start from the Brit, but after the pair collided on the final lap, Hamilton would go on to win the race, with Rosberg finishing in 4thspot, cutting the lead to just 11 points.
But, it would be Rosberg that would have the last laugh, as he managed to win the Drivers Championship by just 5 points, going down to the final race of the season in Abu Dhabi.