After a dramatic race in Silverstone, the F1 action continues as we head to the Red Bull Ring in Austria. There are multiple storylines to look forward to, one of which includes Red Bull’s Max Verstappen looking to bounce back after yet another painful British Grand Prix, with Mercedes having also thrown their hat in the ring for wins. This is also the first time we will see the Sprint this year.
As we head to Austria, let’s take a look at a few things that might happen.
A lion raring to attack
As positive as the British race was for Red Bull’s Sergio Pérez, it was equally painful for his teammate and current championship leader, Max Verstappen. The reigning World Champion missed out on pole and then an early red flag undid the good work he did at the start of the race to take the lead from eventual race winner Carlos Sainz. At the restart, Verstappen suffered from a puncture and damage to his floor which hampered his race and saw him drop down the pack and manage to finish only seventh, while his teammate finished second and was fighting for the win.
Verstappen knew he had the pace to take the win in Silverstone and overcome the pain he suffered there 12 months ago, when he had suffered a high-impact crash and missed out on what could have been a win.
Heading into Red Bull’s home race at the iconic Red Bull Ring, Verstappen will be looking to bounce back and extend his championship lead that took a bit of a hit in Silverstone. Ferrari might be looking strong and Sergio Pérez might be beginning to mount his own Championship charge, but Verstappen still remains the Championship leader. Expect him to leave the Red Bull Ring with a win.
Pole prediction: Max Verstappen / Charles Leclerc / Carlos Sainz
Win prediction: Red Bull / Ferrari
Firsts ticked off
Carlos Sainz’s win at the British Grand Prix was not only his first Formula One win but also made him Formula One’s 112th winner and Ferrari’s 40th. Sainz had to wait a good 150 races before scoring his first win, but now that he has that ticked off his list, it will definitely release a lot of pressure off the Spaniard.
Up until the British race Sainz had had an underwhelming season and was nine races into the season without a win, even though he had a race-winning car. There even were a couple of questions raised as to whether he could actually be a Championship contender or he would be relegated to the status of a number-two driver.
Sainz, though, answered all those questions on the Silverstone track. He was on the pace right off the bat, and after taking a stunning pole, he managed to convert it into a maiden victory.
Now, with the pressure of the first win off his back, we should be seeing a more relaxed and focused Sainz, who can now just enjoy his racing and maybe even get himself into the Championship battle.
For Ferrari, seeing both their drivers finally turn up would be just what the doctor ordered, and this is probably exactly the shot in the arm the Scuderia needed to get their Championship fight back on track. They finally have two drivers who can fight together and take the fight to Red Bull.
Another driver who got a ‘first’ ticked off in Britain was Haas’ Mick Schumacher. The German youngster, who is in his second season in Formula One, finally scored his first points following an eighth-place finish in Britain. It had been more than 30 races for the German without points, and some of his tactics this season had put doubts over his spot in the team. An unnecessary crash in Miami and multiple qualifying and race crashes had raised the question whether the German youngster was rushed too quickly into Formula One.
Just like Sainz, Schumacher gave his answer on the track. A stunning drive in Silverstone saw him charge from P19 to P8, showing the world why he deserves a spot in Formula One as he went wheel-to-wheel with defending World Champion Max Verstappen and almost came out on top.
For Schumacher, having this monkey off his back might just be the best thing. He already has a solid midfield car and has been honing his race craft. Now with no more questions left about his first points, we are likely to see stronger performances from the young Schumacher.
Dark horses for podium: Alpine / Alfa Romeo / Haas
Mercedes enter the ring
The British race was an important one for Mercedes. Not only was it the home race for their talisman Lewis Hamilton, but it was also going to be a true show of their upgrades, which they had made a couple of races ago. Along with that, they also brought more upgrades to Silverstone, expecting the new upgrades to help them close the gap between themselves and Ferrari and Red Bull.
A rainy start to the weekend wasn’t ideal, however, and it did hamper Mercedes in qualifying, but Hamilton’s performance on Sunday showed that they have taken giant steps to moving towards the front of the grid. The British race in front of his home crowd was not only the first time Hamilton was actually in the fight for a win this season but also the first time he led a race this season. While he stated post race that it felt good to be back in the fight, he also mentioned that Mercedes still had some work to do.
The Mercedes upgrades have opened up the field, and even though the Brackley-based team might not be able to challenge Red Bull and Ferrari outright, they are right on their heels and ready to push them all the way.
Heading to Austria, although the track has been a Red Bull stronghold, expect Mercedes to put up a strong fight.
Race details: When and where to watch (India)
Circuit: Red Bull Ring, Styria
Venue: Styria, Austria
Practice Session 1 time: 17:00 (IST), 1 July 2022
Qualifying time: 20:30 (IST), 8 July 2022
Practice Session 2 time: 16:00 (IST), 9 July 2022
Sprint time: 20:00 (IST), 9 July 2022
Main race time: 18:30 (IST), 10 July 2022
Where to watch: Star Sports Network | Disney+ Hotstar