After an intriguing race in Baku the teams head to mountainous Spielberg in a round that highlights the contrasts of F1.
The tight, narrow track in a ‘new frontier’ destination of Azerbaijan is made way for a return to a regional setting in Austria that has racing heritage dating back to the 1950’s.
The original Osterreichring – which hosted many Grand Prix – has since been redeveloped and the circuit was re-launched as the Red Bull Ring with the F1 cars returning to the track in the 2014 season.
The track itself is fast and flowing with just nine corners but is one of the shortest on the F1 calendar at 4.326km in length.
The first sector is laid-out in an ‘L’ shape and is by far the quickest with two of the straights. Sector 2 and 3 is a little more technical with the majority of the corners.
Those corners that the Red Bull Ring do have vary considerably in their style and challenges – from the heavy braking, low speed Turn 2 to the high speed Turn 8 that tends to catch drivers unaware.
The circuit is also one where the power unit is critical so it will better suit the cars running with a Mercedes engine.
The Red Bull drivers – at their ‘home’ race – are realistic about the prospect in front of them.
“We haven’t had the results we would like there in the past but I think we’re coming there with our best package yet so hopefully that can put us up into the top five,” noted Daniel Ricciardo.
EXPECT A TITLE CONTEST IN FRONT
The last race in Baku was a real lackluster weekend for Hamilton after he crashed during qualifying and had problems with the engine settings during the race.
The Englishman’s fifth place finish put him 24 points behind Rosberg and questioning the reliability of his Mercedes.
“I am definitely not feeling confident for the future, but I have a lot of races ahead,” said Hamilton.
“It’s looking like a good year for Nico, but I never give up.”
But the Red Bull Ring suits the powerful Mercedes cars and this weekend will present Hamilton with a genuine opportunity to get back on the podium and re-gain some momentum.
WHAT ABOUT THE REST?
Following a string of strong results, Force India’s Sergio Perez will again be looking to challenge the front runners and score a podium finish.
Sitting quietly behind the Mexican is his team-mate, Nico Hulkenberg, who has yet to seriously make a mark this campaign. Could this be the race where Hulkenberg ignites his season?
Likewise, Williams have performed well in Austria – finishing third and fifth in 2015 – and Bottas and Massa will also be focused on scoring some strong points at the Red Bull Ring.
The scene is set nicely for a close three-way fight between Ferrari, Force India and Williams for a place on the podium.
The race will start at 14:00 local time and will run over 71 laps.