The hills come alive this weekend, with the sound of 20 F1 cars pounding around the small and mighty Red Bull Ring. Lewis Hamilton leads the championship, heading into an event that teammate Nico Rosberg prevailed at 12 months ago, and Nico Rosberg will hope to make it an Austrian double this time out. Meanwhile, at a circuit in which they starred last season, Williams’ Felipe Massa and Valtteri Bottas will aim to build upon a promising weekend in Canada, which saw the latter make his first appearance at the podium club this campaign.
- The Austrian Grand Prix returned to the F1 calendar in 2014, to a popular response, with sell-out crowds on race-day.
- The Red Bull Ring, formally known as the A1 Ring, is 2.6 miles in length, with turns eight and nine being much revered by drivers and fans alike.
- Alain Prost claimed three wins in Austria – the most prolific winner of the Austrian Grand Prix.
- Niki Lauda claimed three pole positions at his home circuit.
And a fact you probably haven’t heard before…
Ferrari have scored 142.5 points in Austrian Grand Prix’s.
Rewind 12 Months…
Last year, Williams shocked the sport on Saturday as they delivered on the promise shown in FP3 but securing a front-row lockout, led by the Brazilian Felipe Massa. Meanwhile, Lewis Hamilton’s Saturday ended in a whimper as the Brit had his first lap in Q3 cancelled due to exceeding track limits at turn eight, before spinning on his second attempt and subsequently qualifying in a disappointing ninth.
While Nico Rosberg duly expected to be fighting against the pace-setting Williams duo on Sunday, Hamilton soon put the Saturday woes behind him, jumping to P4 after a lightning opening lap. A conservative strategy from Williams meant that they soon became peripheral figures in the fight for the top step, leaving the two Mercedes to enter into their customary battle of cat and mouse. The second advantage that Nico Rosberg took into the second lap of the race was largely maintained throughout and this saw him take his third win of the season.
Here are my pointers ahead of this weekend’s action:
- Williams are likely to have their strongest result of 2015 so far this weekend. The circuit characteristics brought the best out of their 2014 package and I anticipate them to perform strongly again this season. So much so, that my latest bold prediction is that Valtteri Bottas will take his maiden race win this weekend.
- Red Bull and Toro Rosso may struggle to put any points on the board at all at home, with the power-deficit to their rivals exaggerated this weekend on a circuit which is more power dependent than even Canada.
- Lotus and Force India on the other hand can expect a close battle as either would be right to expect a double points finish this weekend.
Image Credit: "2002 Austrian Grand Prix" By Paddy Briggs [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons