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F1 Race Preview: Austrian Grand Prix


F1 Race Preview: Austrian Grand Prix

The Formula 1 roadshow moves on from Silverstone, the home of Lewis Hamilton, George Russell, and Lando Norris, to Austria, the homeland of Red Bull. F1 is fast becoming the largest show in town as week after week we are privileged to witness stunning racing that has so far this season treated us to some absolute classic battles for the ages!

The sport has never been so good and there’s not a moment to rest after Silverstone. So, who will win in Austria this weekend? Read on to inform your F1 predictions ahead of the race with expert insight from Jennie Gow.

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The British Grand Prix: What did we learn?

The British Grand Prix was amazing! It had everything – from an eye-watering crash at the beginning of the race which led to a red flag, through to a first-time winner, another Ferrari strategy mix-up, and another Hamilton podium – there was plenty to keep us all busy.

Ahead of Silverstone, I predicted the following: “As for Sainz, he couldn’t get past Verstappen last time out, but he will get the chance again and will make the most of it...”

As it turned out, his next chance was just one race away. A late safety car bunched up the field and allowed some drivers to stop for new soft (faster) tyres (while others stayed out), which resulted in a dramatic 10-lap dash to the line – with a whopping six cars jockeying for a place on the podium.

Carlos Sainz, on the more favourable race strategy (compared to his teammate, Charles Leclerc) ran away into the distance while behind him the race for second place was one of the most thrilling I have ever seen with Sergio Perez, Lewis Hamilton, and Leclerc all ducking and diving around the track to try and outfox each other. Even Fernando Alonso and Lando Norris were trying to get in on the action!

It was a thing of beauty and in the end, it was Perez who took the second spot ahead of Hamilton. The crowd were ecstatic to see Hamilton get on the podium and everyone was genuinely delighted for Sainz, finally getting that well-deserved first win on his 150th attempt.

Most importantly, our takeaway from Silverstone is that the halo is a scientific and engineering success story. Without it, we could possibly have had two deaths at Silverstone. Instead, no one was seriously hurt and somehow, Zhou Guanyu, the Alfa Romeo driver from China, was able to walk away from a horror smash that saw his car turn upside down and hurtle towards the barriers, then flick over and wedge itself between the tyre barrier and the hatch fencing. Thank you to those who campaigned for it so vigorously!

Austrian Grand Prix 2022: Can Verstappen win at the Red Bull Ring?

There’s not even time for Sainz to properly celebrate his first-ever F1 race win because we’re already heading into the Austria race week. Max Verstappen will be looking for another win to add to his haul of six for the season and to make up for last weekend. At Silverstone, he had looked the strongest across all the days, but luck just wasn’t on his side as he suffered damage to his car which meant he could only finish seventh.

The gap between Verstappen and teammate Perez has now closed to 34 points (it was 46) and he and Leclerc are now separated by 43 points, but Verstappen has impressive form around his team’s home circuit with four wins to his name so if anyone else wins this weekend, I will be surprised.

Austrian Grand Prix 2022: Analysis of the Red Bull Ring

Situated in the beautiful Styrian mountains, the circuit is like something from the Sound of Music: rolling countryside; green grass and the lovely Red Bull Ring set within it all. The undulating nature of the track always leads to exciting races and with 71 laps to cover, the action is relentless for the drivers. The grandstands will, no doubt, be a sea of Dutch Orange as the fans and flares sing out for mighty Verstappen.

Ferrari haven’t won at the Red Bull ring since Michael Schumacher took victory in 2003; however, they will look to turn around that poor run this weekend and Leclerc – fuming over strategy calls once again – will be a man on a mission. He also needs to claw back points from Verstappen if he is to stand any chance of challenging for the title this season.

The comeback kings: Are Mercedes a good bet for the win?

Hamilton has only won at the Red Bull Ring twice since the circuit came back on the calendar in 2014 (in 2016 and 2020) – taking pole three times here (across both the Austrian Grand Prix and the Styrian Grand Prix). While the Mercedes upgrades have clearly brought the team a step closer to the top two teams, whether the circuit will suit them as much as Silverstone is another question, and I think the answer is no.

Mercedes have won 60% of the last 10 races held at the circuit with Red Bull winning 40% but we know Mercedes' domination is now over and this year they are having to fight for every single point. I think a win for them this weekend would be unlikely.

Austrian Grand Prix 2022: Who to bet on for pole

Pole position isn’t as important here as you would think it would be for a short track, as there are some clear overtaking opportunities. That said, 60% of pole-sitters have gone on to win the race in the last 10 Grands Prix held at the circuit, including in the last four races.

Verstappen has taken both pole and the race win in the last two races around this track (both in 2021 – at the Styrian GP and the Austrian GP), and I can’t see anyone else but Verstappen or Leclerc on pole this weekend.

Both had a flawed weekend last time out so the battle between the two will be intense. Trying to pick which of these two men will start the race in pole position is almost impossible but on stats alone, you would once again back Leclerc because he’s had 60% of all poles so far this season.

A podium for the man in Papaya?

Lando Norris goes well at the Red Bull Ring. He hasn’t won here but he qualified and raced well last year and got the McLaren onto the podium – just imagine if we got two back-to-back debut winners in Formula One. Norris is certainly due some luck and a win at some point, and maybe this weekend is his weekend, although you feel it would take some extraordinary events for it to happen!

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