F1 returns to Austria in Red Bull Arena for the 2022 Austrian GP, and there are many significant stories to look out for. To start with, it’s Red Bull’s home race; it’s a sprint weekend, i.e. there are more points for grab than usual.
In 2021 we saw Max Verstappen and Red Bull winning effortlessly without any serious pressure or problems from rivals. Red Bull will surely try their best this weekend, too and will definitely be the team to watch out for.
Coming to the circuit, it’s a fast-paced 10 corners circuit with three long straights and three DRS zones. It is a medium downforce track where some teams can even opt for low downforce. The circuit is 4.3 km long. The lap record has been held by Carlos Sainz from 2020 (1:05.619). There are no major changes to the track layout for the 2022 season.
One major update for the 2022 Austrian GP weekend is the addition of a sprint race on Friday. A sprint race is a 100 km dash held after qualification in which points are rewarded to the top eight drivers. So far, there has been only 1 sprint race this season, that too in Imola, which was won by Max Verstappen.
The sprint race will also serve as a qualification. The final finishing order at the end of the sprint will determine the starting line-up for the start of the race on Sunday. With more points up for grab on Saturday, it becomes vital for the teams to focus on this 25 to 30 minutes of hard racing.
Mercedes’s fighting chance?
British GP was nothing short of a package of drama, action, chaos and complete entertainment. There were many key points to note from the 52 laps long Grand Prix, which was won by Sainz in the end. But a thing that attracted the most attention in the aftermath of the GP was Lewis and Mercedes’s car, which seemed to have little to no porpoising and a strong race pace.
Lewis’s master tyre management and Mercedes pace didn’t just make them look strong, but at one point, even in the contention of winning the Grand Prix. Of course, due to the crash and DNF of George Russell on the opening lap, we couldn’t see the complete pace of the team as a whole, but Lewis’s pace looked promising, and it will be interesting to see how they perform in Austria.
Max Verstappen Title fight:
Max has won 3 out of the last 5 races held in Austria. Red bull and Max are known for pushing their limits when it comes to their home race in Red Bull Ring. “If there is a GP, Red Bull will build their car for, it would definitely be the Austrian GP.” Red bull has shown a strong pace throughout the season and has been one step ahead of all their rivals, especially the Scuderia Ferrari, so it won’t be a big surprise if they manage to win it again. Max himself has promised a solid comeback to the Orange Army after a disappointing and unlucky race at Silverstone. It will also be interesting to see how Perez performs, given his fantastic season so far and that incredible comeback drive in Silverstone.
Leclerc and Ferrari’s troubles:
After dominating the first three races of the season and showing a solid pace, it has been a story of complete downfall for the Scuderia. Although they managed to win the British GP and delivered a robust pace in both cars, the strategic decisions have been somewhat a mark of concern.
At Silverstone, they had a big chance of securing a solid one-two after both Red Bulls suffered damages in the opening 12 laps of the race. They didn’t even manage to get both their drivers on the podium.
Leclerc definitely had a chance to win the race, but wasn’t allowed to pit under the last safety car. This just didn’t cost him the race win but also saw him dropping down to a rather disappointing P4. This also affected his title fight with Max, who himself finished P7 due to damage to his car’s floor. If Ferrari had pitted Leclerc under the final Safety Car, not only Leclerc would have gone on to probably win the race, but he would have downed Max’s championship lead to 30 points and come to P2 in the championship standings.
Ferrari has shown a strong pace, but they need to stop making strategic blunders and throwing races away from them.
Red Bull Ring is located at the heart of the Styrian Mountains making its weather a little unpredictable, but the weather forecast suggests a relatively clean and dry race weekend with rain expected on Friday during FP1. No serious threat of showers on Saturday for FP2 and the sprint. A little rain is also expected, but it may end before the race starts. But again, the weather can be unpredictable, and shower before the race means that the track will be left like a “green surface”, so we can expect more tyre wear, giving those at the pit wall a hard time sculpting the perfect strategy.
The form at which Max Verstappen has been driving and given it’s the home race of Red Bull makes them the hot favourites for winning this GP.
As far as pole position is concerned, Charles has dominated it by winning 6 out of 10 poles this season. So, it will be no surprise if he gets another pole on Friday. The major question is will he be able to produce the race pace on Saturday’s sprint and Sunday’s final GP. Out of the 7 poles won by Ferrari so far, they’ve been able to win only 3 races which puts a question mark on their race pace.
Lewis and Mercedes also showcased some promising results in the last 3 races. An unfortunate incident ended Russell’s top 5 streak in Silverstone, but signs are encouraging. It won’t be a surprise to see Mercedes fighting for a top spot on the podium yet again this weekend.
All in all, we are all set to witness yet another thrilling race this weekend. With Mercedes showing promising signs from Silverstone, it might be a three-way fight to the line. Stay Tuned with The Sportsway for more updates.