As the northern hemisphere summer closes its first month, it also signals a busy few weeks before the F1 circus takes most of August off. First up is this weekend’s Austrian Grand Prix, at the Red Bull Ring, Spielberg. A week later is the British GP at the fabled Silverstone track before a two week layover. Then it’s off to Germany for a run at Hockenheim then a week after it’s the Hungaroring in Budapest, Hungary.
Lewis Hamilton comes into this weekend fresh from his dominant win in France leading the formula1.com driver rankings. In a drive that looked elegant and unfussed, the championship leading Briton impressed many with his quiet doggedness and tenacity. But it’s Charles Leclerc that has impressed even more with a second level status for the up and coming young driver from Monaco. Five straight Qualifying 2 appearances have helped his star shine.
Sitting third in the leadership rankings is Perth’s Daniel Ricciardo. It’s been a see-saw season for the Australian who will also celebrate his 29th birthday on race day, July 1. Two wins have been offset by lower efforts such as his collision with team mate Max Verstappen and a seemingly unavoidable front end issue that dropped him off the podium in France.
The Austrian Grand Prix is the second of three races to be run back to back. It’s the first time that F1 has done this and it certainly brings the sport back to a front of mind perception. It’s a track that Red Bull consider to be one of their two “home tracks”, the other being Silverstone. As such, it’ll be high on the internal agenda for Ricciardo to get a pole and a win, with Verstappen also aiming for a podium.
The circuit itself is one of the highest placed tracks, with an altitude of over seven hundred meters and boasting an elevation change of sixty three meters, from 721 meters above sea level to 764 meters at turn three. The layout is not unlike the Queensland, Australia, race circuit at Lakeside, being a flat bottomed “U” configuration comprising a 4.318 kilometre (2.683 miles) circuit distance. Hamilton holds the lap record, a relatively brief 1:07.411.
It’s a tricky circuit to deal with thanks to that layout, as drivers will be on the go pedal for two thirds of a lap. Adding to the spice for this weekend has been the addition of an extra DRS zone. With the front runners using relatively new engines, expect some hot attack moves to set up for overtaking.
Tire choice is the same as France. Soft, ultrasoft, and hypersoft are the three grades available, and it’s fair to expect the ultrasofts to be used early.
Practice commences Friday June 29 at 09:00 UTC or 11:00 AM local, with the race slightly later on Sunday at 15:10 local.