The Austrian Grand Prix takes place at the Red Bull Ring this weekend. Located in the foothills of the Styrian mountains, the Austrian Grand Prix has a varied history going back to the days of the thrilling Osterreichring in the 1970s and 1980s.
It was home to controversy in 2002 as Rubens Barrichello allowed Michael Schumacher to pass him for the victory, and the circuit disappeared off the Formula One calendar from 2004 until 2014. Refurbished under the ownership of Red Bull, the track is popular with drivers, even though its current configuration is a long way from the one Alain Prost, Niki Lauda and Nigel Mansell were victorious on in the 1980s.
Mercedes have won all eight of this season’s races. The bad news for the rest of the grid – and all the neutrals – is that the Silver Arrows have been superb at the Red Bull Ring in recent years, earning pole in each of the last four years.
Lewis Hamilton has won four races in a row and is priced at -142 with Sugar House to make it five straight this weekend. Hamilton cruised to victory in France last time out, extending his championship lead to 36 points over teammate Valtteri Bottas and a mammoth 76 points ahead of rival Sebastian Vettel. Hamilton is in at -1200 to win the title with BetStars.
A lap of the Red Bull Ring is split into two distinct sections. The first half is all about power with long straights likely to benefit the Ferraris and put the Red Bulls at a disadvantage. The second part of the lap is tighter, with winding corners, which will challenge the cars on a low-grip track.
Mercedes might lose pace to Ferrari in the first half, but Hamilton and Bottas should be able to more than make that up in the corners. Ferrari underachieved at Circuit Paul Ricard, and its hard to see them enjoying this weekend significantly more.
Mercedes had a nightmare on Sunday at this race last year, which saw Max Verstappen take the victory. Unless Ferrari get similar good fortune, their hopes of beating Mercedes are very slim. The Silver Arrows won all four races at Red Bull Ring from 2014 to 2017, and it would be a major shock if they failed to make it five in six years this weekend.
Pirelli have selected the C2, C3 and C4 tyre compounds for this weekend. That’s the same selection as France, despite a slightly different style of track. This is traditionally a one-stop strategy with tyre degradation issues unlikely. One point of intrigue, though, is that the top six drivers all made different tyre selections, which could make for some interesting strategic decisions.
McLaren surprised themselves with their pace at Circuit Paul Ricard. Carlos Sainz Jr earned another top six finish – his second in three races and fourth points finish of the year – while Lando Norris was unfortunate to finish down in ninth after qualifying in fifth. Norris was just behind Verstappen in qualifying and, despite hydraulics issues making it a disappointing end to the weekend, will be full of confidence heading to Austria. Norris is +320 to finish in the top six with BetStars.
In the fastest lap betting, Verstappen is +375 with 888Sport to pick up the extra point. Hamilton and Bottas are joint favorites at +300 and will obviously get plenty of backing. The Red Bulls are always worth keeping an eye on, however. Pierre Gasly has been left in no-man’s-land between the top five and the midfield a few times this year, he could be a good price at +400.
By Sam Cox