Racing’s back and we are headed to the Red Bull Ring
Racing’s back and we are headed to the Red Bull Ring this weekend. The home of the reigning Constructors’ champions, Red Bull, the iconic Austrian circuit has seen a lot of action over the years and after an action-packed Canadian Grand Prix, we are in for more action this weekend. With the likes of Mercedes and Aston Martin coming to the fore, Red Bull will need to be wary of a threat as they look to win in front of their home fans.
As we head into the race week, here are a few of our predictions for the Austrian Grand Prix 2023.
A Raging Bull
After another convincing win in Canada, Max Verstappen has opened up a 69-point gap in the championship battle as his teammate, Sergio Pérez, has begun to feel the title battle pressure.
With Verstappen looking increasingly comfortable and beginning to get into an untouchable mode, it will need something special and then some from the rest of the grid to even get close to the Dutchman. In Canada, Verstappen secured his 41st Formula One victory, equaling his number of wins with the great Ayrton Senna and it won’t be long before he overtakes Senna and keeps moving up on that list.
The Red Bull Ring has been a happy-hunting ground for Verstappen, who is the joint-highest winner at the circuit, having won three times previously and it looks like Verstappen will hold the track record for most wins at the Red Bull Ring following the race this weekend. The Red Bull machinery is quite obviously far ahead of the rest of the grid but with Verstappen getting into form, it makes it more difficult for the likes of Aston Martin and Mercedes, who are looking to catch Red Bull and Verstappen.
Don’t be surprised if you see Verstappen on the top step of the podium once again on Sunday.
Pole Position Predictions: Max Verstappen
Win Predictions: Red Bull
Tight lower table scrap
While Red Bull have begun to run away with the Constructors’ championship, there has been a tight battle in the Constructors’ battle going on, further down the table between McLaren, Alfa Romeo, Haas and Williams, all of whom are vying for the sixth spot.
While no one expected McLaren to be this low in the table, Alfa Romeo and Haas’ promise-filled 2022 seasons seems to have fallen flat. While the strong Ferrari PU sees Alfa Romeo and Haas being able to contest for points, both teams have struggled to be consistent which sees them with nine and eight points respectively.
While the likes of McLaren, Haas and Alfa Romeo have been trying to find consistency and regularly fight for a good haul of points, it’s a different story for Williams. After getting the wooden spoon for multiple seasons, Williams has finally made some progress in the new regulations era, which started this season, with Alex Albon leading the charge for the Grove-based team.
Expect the four to be involved in a tight scrap in Austria as well and with the Sprint also being held, there’s an added advantage for whoever has a clean weekend as they get to leave the Red Bull Ring with more points.
Surprise Package of the race weekend: Alfa Romeo
The new Sprint format returns
As we head to the Red Bull Ring, we also have the Sprint returning and it is the new Sprint format that will take place this weekend.
The new Sprint event sees the weekend kickoff with practice session 1 on Friday before we head to normal qualifying that sets the grid for Sunday’s main race. Saturday gets underway with the ‘sprint shootout’ which sets the grid for the Sprint event and it is basically a shortened qualifying which consists of:
- Sprint qualifying 1 – 12 minutes
- Sprint qualifying 2 – 10 minutes
- Sprint qualifying 3 – 8 minutes
The new rules also state that teams will be required to use one set of mediums for SQ1 and SQ2 and one set of softs for SQ3. The Sprint event takes place later on Saturday after the sprint shootout and the top eight finishers will take home points while the main Grand Prix remains on Sunday.
The new sprint format gives the lower mid-field teams a chance to score big points on Saturday and even if their general qualifying doesn’t go as planned, they have a chance to leave the weekend with good points, even if they don’t score on Sunday!
Circuit: Red Bull Ring
Venue: Spielberg, Austria
Practice Session 1 time: 17:00, June 30
Qualifying Session time: 20:30, June 30
Sprint Shootout Session time: 15:30, July 1
Sprint Session time: 20:00, July 1
Main race time: 18:30, July 2
Where to watch: F1 TV Pro