The F1 field continues its second sojourn into Europe as we move from France to Austria for our next instalment.
We move to a track much more familiar with the younger generation of F1 heads this week, with the field set to take on the Red Bull Ring this coming weekend.
Austrian Grand Prix
Red Bull Ring
Sunday 1 July
France certainly proved to be a happy hunting ground for Lewis Hamilton as the reigning Drivers’ Champion managed to bag a vital win that saw him move 14 points clear of Sebastian Vettel – who could only muster up a fifth-place finish.
Kimi Raikkonen managed to salvage a bit of pride for the Prancing Stag as he took third, but it was still a race to forget for Ferrari as they dropped further off the pace in the race for the Constructor’s Championship, with the Mercedes number 2, Valtteri Bottas, claiming seventh spot and some more valuable Constructors’ points for the Silver Arrows.
It was a tidy weekend for Red Bull, with Max Verstappen claiming second and Daniel Ricciardo taking fourth.
Despite Romain Grosjean causing a massive crash, Haas will be pleased with their jaunt in France as their other driver, Kevin Magnussen, managed to claim the final berth in the Top 6. The remainder of the Top 10 consisted of Carlos Sainz (8th), Nico Hulkenberg (9th), and Charles Leclerc (10th).
To Win Race Outright
Lewis Hamilton 1/1 | Sebastian Vettel 9/4 | Daniel Ricciardo 8/1 | Max Verstappen 8/1 | Valtteri Bottas 8/1 | Kimi Raikkonen 25/1 | Carlos Sainz 400/1
Once one of the most formidable race tracks in the world – during its heydey as the Osterreichring – the Red Bull Ring is now a rather tame beast. While the circuit does still possess a few hairy corners that will get the drivers’ blood pumping, it has lost a lot of those fast high sweeping turns that made it such a wild drive back in the 70’s and 80’s.
While the track was totally rebuilt in the mid 90’s, it only became known as the Red Bull Ring in the late 2000’s. It took even longer for a race to be held there again, with Formula 1 only making a return to the track in 2014.
Since making its return to the Formula One calendar, the Austrian race weekend has been dominated by Mercedes with Nico Rosberg winning the 2014 and 2015 editions of the race, Lewis Hamilton taking top honours in 2016 and Valtteri Bottas winning last year’s edition.
With the track bordering on the Styrian Mountains and the Styrian Forest, Drivers are often confronted with late afternoon thunderstorms. As it stands, only partly cloudy weather is being forecast for Saturday and Sunday but I highly doubt we’ll get a dry Q3 session or a dry race.
Value Bets – Podium Finish – Daniel Ricciardo – Yes 7/4
The grinning Aussie managed to claim third place at the Red Bull Ring last season and I can see him repeating the dose here. Ricciardo has enjoyed a solid season winning two races and finishing in the Top 5 on all but two occasions. He comes into this one off the back of two fourth-place finishes but I can see him going one better here.
Fastest Qualifier & To Win Race Outright – Lewis Hamilton 72/100 & 1/1
The ‘Brit bounced back from a couple of disappointing results by claiming top honours at the French Grand Prix last week. He has an extremely handy qualifying record out in Austria taking pole in 2015 and 2016. And while he doesn’t have as dominant a winning record there – he’s only won one of the last four races held at the track – Mercedes dominance at the circuit makes me think that he’ll take top honours here.