The Austrian Grand Prix is taking place in the form of one of F1’s unusual “sprint” weekends. The flying Dutchman Max Verstappen narrowly led the two Ferraris in the top three of Friday’s regular qualifying session, but both Mercedes’ struggled with rear grip and ended up with rare trips into the barriers. In the sprint race Verstappen had the pace to hold off the two battling Ferraris again, whilst team mate Sergio Perez came through the field to finish fifth.
The track at Spielberg is another one adored by both fans and drivers alike. In the stunning Austrian mountains, spectators get a fantastic view of the action, and the drivers get to blast their way around one of the shortest and fastest tracks on the calendar. The long, flat-out straights can take their toll on any worn and weary engine parts, and with a succession of heavy braking zones, the first two of which are very much uphill, the drivers have to be consistently accurate to avoid losing buckets of time in the slow corners. Expect to see drivers running wide at turn one and trying to stay on the throttle from outside of the track limits to remain quick onto the straight, a luxury which won’t be available to anyone who slides wide in the left-hand infield section, where we saw Valtteri Bottas memorably “mowing the lawn” in his Mercedes in the past. Overtaking places are not hard to come by in Austria, so those with greater speed should filter through towards the front of the field.
Austrian Grand Prix
Max Verstappen to Win
The current world champion and championship leader is the big favourite to win in Austria this Sunday. Not only did he come out on top in qualifying and the sprint race, but his two nearest rivals Carlos Sainz and Charles Leclerc appear to be very closely matched on pace, meaning that they will have to deal with some awkward inter-team strategic battles before one of them can think about taking the fight to Verstappen. Ferrari have struggled in such situations this season, and have often ended up hampering their own cause as they aim to keep tensions calm within the garage. On top of that, the Red Bull car appears to have the superior straight line speed, vital for Austria’s long straights, and Max Verstappen has a history of success at the circuit, so it seems that only a reliability issue could hinder the Dutch driver from claiming another win in the weekend’s main race.
Mick Schumacher to Finish in the Top 10
The Haas team have suddenly found themselves with what looks like the 4th quickest car on the grid in Austria. After Mick Schumacher finally scored points last time out with over 30 point-less drives under his belt, the pressure looks to have dropped away from the young German. A solid showing in qualifying could have been a cause to celebrate, but Mick’s radio messages clearly suggested that he felt there was more pace in the car. He raced hard against Lewis Hamilton on Saturday but stayed within the top 10, and with Magnussen’s speed confirming that the Haas package is genuinely pacey, Mick should make it back to back points finishes.
Both Alpine Cars to Finish in the Points
It was a torrid day on Saturday for the Alpine team; they had to watch on as Fernando Alonso’s car developed an issue just before the start of the sprint race, meaning he fell to the back of the field, and eventually failed to start at all. With an evening to troubleshoot the problems though, Alpine should have his car back up and running in good shape for Sunday’s race, and the pace displayed on Friday suggests that the French team should have few issues in getting their car past the lower order drivers and up towards the top 10. There’s huge pace and potential in the Alpine at this circuit, and both Ocon and Alonso should be able to bring home points for the team, despite the poor starting position for the latter.
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How to watch the Austrian Grand Prix?
📅 When is the Austrian Grand Prix? / Sunday, 10th July 2022 from 1:55pm
🏟 Where is the Austrian Grand Prix? / Red Bull Ring (Spielberg)
📺 What TV channel is the Austrian Grand Prix on? / Sky Sports F1