The Austrian Grand Prix is held at the Osterreichring, which is located in the municipal territory of Spielberg. It was renamed the Red Bull Ring in 2013 and is known for it’s idyllic setting. It’s a very pretty circuit and is beautifully integrated into the surrounding forests as opposed to some racetracks that look like a scar slashed into the landscape. The Styrian Mountains provide a dramatic backdrop and it’s lush slopes do ensure that the circuit sees more than it’s fair share of rainfall during the year.
The Red Bull Ring has good elevation changes over its lap (4.3 kilometres only), which adds to its beauty. When you first see the layout it seems simple, but the off-cambered corners make it trickier then you’d expect to nail the perfect lap. The first sector is all about short sharp corners followed by long straights, so you often see quite a bit of overtaking action here. It’s followed by the second sector with blind, off cambered corners. And the last sector has these two fast corners which lead onto the front straight, which just reward committed full throttle driving.
The long straights with tight corners in the first half of the lap does mean it’s considered a horse power track- although not quite as much as in Canada and Azerbaijan. So we will see the similar trend of the last couple of races with Mercedes powered Williams and Force India remaining strong. Also Renault, Torro Rosso and Mclaren will find it a little challenging. Having said that, we will see an improvement from Mclaren due to Honda bringing their new spec 3 engines for both their drivers.
While Red Bull might have won the last race in Baku, normal service should resume here in Austria with Mercedes and Ferrari going at it hammer and tongs. The Sebastian Vettel “should he or shouldn’t he be” penalized further for his incident with Lewis Hamilton, has done just the trick for adding the edge this Championship fight deserves. Both of them have been showing each other a disturbing amount of love before Baku. With shots now fired I expect the feistiness to be taken up a notch or three this weekend.
It’s still very close between the two teams though and will be hard to call which team should have the advantage. If anything, I’d probably wager on Mercedes having a slight advantage, especially in qualifying. Come the race though it will be very close and I’m hoping for a straight fight between Vettel and Hamilton. A proper one with overtaking possible that goes all the way to the flag.
However let’s not forget their teammates, Kimi Raikkonen (Ferrari) and Valtteri Bottas (Mercedes), who will not have given up on race wins or in Bottas’s case even fighting for the championship. If one or both of them could qualify on the front row, it will lead to all sorts of possible permutations, which would give their respective teams and teammates something to think about.