Austrian Grand Prix – Round 2
Is The F1 Title Slipping Through Mercedes Fingers?
This weekend sees us back at the Red Bull Ring circuit in Spielberg for the second race of the Austrian Grand Prix – The BWT Grosser Preis Von Osterreich.
Last week saw the fight for the championship continue between Verstappen and Hamilton with Verstappen taking pole position on the podium once again leaving Hamilton 18 points behind.
With one home win under his belt last week can he do it again?
Red Bull Ring Track Stats
- Length: 4.318KM
- Laps: 71
- Race Distance: 306.578km
- Lap record: 1.05.619 Carlos Sainz (2020)
The Red Bull Ring consists of a series of fast straights, steep climbs and descents and fast, flowing turns that collectively challenge the car’s downforce and straight-line grunt while also testing the courage of the drivers.
Mercedes vs Red Bull
So far we have seen the closeness of the battle with Hamilton being underlined by the fact that off-track squabbling is defining the season as much as the thrilling racing. Flexing wings have been limited and pit stops are always a key weapon in Red Bull’s racing armory which is where Mercedes have been let down.
Verstappen insists his team’s ability to get cars in and out of the pit lane quicker than their rivals is unquestionable quoting “We have always been really good at pit stops” “when its super close which it is now, it can make a huge difference”.
After the Styrian Grand Prix, it’s difficult to not see Red Bull as odds-on favourites. It is not because of the 40 point constructors lead or their 4 consecutive victories but the manner of their victory. No safety cars, no tyre degradation and it has not been wet, cold, or windy. Simply put, Red Bull has had the fastest car and driver.
However, this does not mean we should be ruling out Mercedes completely just yet though, with two cars on the podium last week, they prove they can compete tactically even if they don’t have the pace. But have they underestimated the competition?
Following the last few difficult races for Lewis Hamilton, he has been flying back to the UK and putting in the extra hours by making increased use of the Mercedes Formula 1 simulator, although he is not usually a fan.
Hamilton knows the championship title is slowly slipping through his fingers and stated he wanted to try and see if there was any way he could try and help the team just be better prepared. His response to whether he found it beneficial was not reassuring however when he stated “I think there’s been a couple of good things from it, but not life-changing”.
For Hamilton, it’s just a matter of figuring out what he can do differently this weekend to eke out a little bit more performance, putting all his energy into doing that still gives him hope with him knowig his car does not have the pace of Red Bulls.
Ferrari vs McLaren
Following the positionings of last weeks race, it was a good result for Ferrari, closing the gap to McLaren as they continue to battle it out for P3.
It may of not looked that way at the start with Leclerc falling back due to a broken wing and Sainz out of the points behind both McLarens but it all changed following Riccardos engine issues resulting in losing power and points before, both Ferraris executed effective strategies to move up into sixth and seventh at the flag after a dazzling recovery drive from Leclerc.
Lando Norris, however, made sure it was not a complete write-off for McLaren. Ensuring he kept the pace ahead of the midfield maintaining his record of being the only driver to score in every round so far this season.
What Tyres Are Being Used This Weekend?
Pirelli have nominated their softest compounds this weekend with the C3-C4-C5 available.
This is a new allocation, softer than the races here last year and last week in the Styrian Grand Prix.
The gap between medium and soft should be wider making it extremely high risk to attempt a Q2 run on the medium.
If the top 10 are forced into starting on a soft tyre, a one-stop strategy will be difficult.
Racing Weather Forecast For This Weekend
The weather remains uncertain, with rain predicted.
Friday and Sunday will be a lot colder than last week, with a maximum temperature of 21 degrees. On Friday and Saturday, the chance of rain is less than 20% and on Saturday the temperature even rises to 26 degrees.
The main race on Sunday however is predicted to be the worst day of the weekend. With temperatures reported to be a maximum of 21 degrees, there is a 87% chance of rain that could hit between 2p,-5pm.
Although Verstappen is down as favourite, different weather conditions can cause very different results than originally expected or predicted. On the day its is all down to the teams to adapt their strategies accordingly.
- Max Verstappen – Red Bull
- Lewis Hamilton – Mercedes
- Sergio Perez – Red Bull
- Lando Norris – McLaren
- Valtteri Bottas – Mercedes
- Red Bull
- Alphatauri Honda