Austrian Grand Prix – Nico To Tame Red Bull Ring
Austrian Grand Prix
A highly entertaining Formula 1 season continues on Sunday afternoon with the Austrian Grand Prix from the Red Bull Ring.
The Season So Far
After six races of near-total domination, the Mercedes stranglehold of the Formula One season was broken in Canada. Mechanical problems forced Lewis Hamilton to retire and meant that Nico Rosberg could only limp home in second.
Closest challengers Red Bull were able to take advantage and Daniel Ricciardo won his first Grand Prix, with Sebastian Vettel finishing third. Rosberg now leads the Drivers’ Championship by 22 points from Hamilton with the rest a long way behind.
Formula One returns to Austria this weekend after an eleven year absence, and that gap means that most of the drivers will be unfamiliar with the venue. The Red Bull Ring, Speilburg, has a straightforward layout, similar to the Circuit Gilles-Villeneuve in Canada, with a low number of corners, and multiple straights.
Over half of each lap will be spent at full throttle and the high altitude will put an extra strain on turbos.
In The Pits
Ferrari have one potential advantage in Austria in that Fernando Alonso and Kimi Raikkonen are among just four current drivers to have experience on this circuit. The team also have a couple of upgrades coming so we can expect an improved showing in the next few races.
But the evidence from Montreal suggests they are still struggling badly for top-end power and that will surely prevent them having an impact at this circuit. For the time being both Alsono and Raikkonen remain unbackable.
Both Mercedes cars suffered brake problems in Montreal after their motor generator units failed, and if they have developed a reliability problem, this circuit is likely to find it out.
I’m not convinced that this is going to be a recurring issue so I’m happy to stick with them this weekend, but will be opting for Rosberg, who is once again a bigger price than Hamilton, despite being the more consistent driver.
Red Bull were able to capitalise on the Mercedes mechanical problems last weekend, and although they are still some way behind in terms of engine performance, they did show significant improvement in Montreal.
Red Bull owns the circuit in Speilburg and they will be pulling out all the stops to ensure a strong challenge there. Ricciardo is on a high at the moment and he is preferred to his team-mate at odds of 16/1.
Given that McClaren are also running the Mercedes engine, their slump in performance after the opening race of the season has been a mystery.
But in Montreal both McClaren drivers improved their lowly grid positions, and Jenson Button’s fourth placed finish represented their best result since Australian.
Button has experience on this circuit and now that McClaren seem to be on the up again, he’s worth backing each way at tempting odds of 125/1.