Who will be king of the Red Bull Ring? Find out in our Austrian GP form guide
All the stats on overtaking, the importance of grid slot and more
Following an imperious display by Lewis Hamilton last Sunday F1 now moves on to the second leg of the first ever triple header – the Austrian GP. First held in 1964 the Austrian GP moved to its current location in 1970 and has had a disjointed run ever since.
Redesigned by Herman Tilke in the 90’s the current Red Bull Ring was added in 2014 after a 10 year absence. Located near Spielberg in the Styrian Mountains the track is definitely one of the most picturesque on the calendar.
Will the upgraded Mercedes power unit prove to be the difference again in Austria or can Seb Vettel regain the lead of the Championship?
WHAT HAPPENED HERE LAST YEAR?
Prior to the race in 2017 Sebastian Vettel was leading the Championship by 14 points over Lewis Hamilton. Coincidentally in 2018 the points difference is the same but the roles are reversed!
Valtteri Bottas controlled the race starting from pole and maintaining his position after his and Vettel’s one and only pit stops. Hamiton qualified thrid but after a five place grid penalty for a gearbox replacement ended up eigth on the grid but making it to fourth at the chequered flag.
After running last until his late retirement last week in France Fernando Alonso’s race was even worse last year in Austria. After a first lap incident Alonso retired without completing a lap (hence his papaya with blue dots line is not to be seen again in our race map after starting 12th). Plenty of work for McLaren to do this weekend!
Can you overtake at the Red Bull Ring
One Finn leads to another (Pic: Sutton)
Overtakes are certainly possible in Austria though with only 11 last year (according to our definition) the issues we discussed regarding the current cars ability to follow another car in our post 'The Need for Speed' were borne out on this circuit last year.
The addition of a third DRS zone at this year’s race will hopefully assist in more (albeit contrived) overtakes.
Let’s hope 2018 sees some more overtaking action than last year. It would be nice to see something closer to 2016 where the Red Bull Ring saw 50% more overtakes than the season average.
How important is qualifying
Our stats only include the four races to date at the Red Bull Ring so it would be unwise to read too much them. To date no-one has managed to take the chequered flag from a starting grid position beyond third.
During the seven races at the A1-Ring between 1997 and 2003 on only one occasion did the winner start from lower than third on the grid. In 2001 David Coulthard won the race for McLaren-Mercedes after starting seventh. Qualifying in the top three is definitely important in Austria.
The omens are not good for Alonso
Of the current drivers who have competed in all four races at the Red Bull Ring, there are two standouts at each end of the spectrum in the race bias stats – Valtteri Bottas and Fernando Alonso. Valtteri’s win in 2017 improved his track bias to 2.7 – much better than his Mercedes team mate.
The Red Bull Ring is not a happy hunting ground for Alonso (Pic: Sutton)
Unfortunately for Fernando he has an unfavourable bias of 5.9 which means on average the Spaniard has finished nearly six places lower in Austria than his average at all other tracks during his career.
After strong practice sessions last week Romain Grosjean’s weekend went downhill with a crash in Q3 and then finishing just outside the points in 11th.
After an incredibly close tussle with his team mate last year Grosjean is still pointless in the Championship compared to Kevin Magnussen’s 27 points. RoGro will certainly be banking on his slightly better Red Bull Ring race bias compared to K-Mag to finally give him some momentum in their one sided head to head.
WHO IS KING OF THE PODIUMS?
Lewis Hamilton is the only driver to have climbed the podium steps three times in Austria. With a win and two second places it’s fair to say Hamilton is the current King of the Ring. An honourable mention should also go to his former teammate Nico Rosberg who had back-to-back wins in 2014 and 2015.
And with the only other win going to Valtteri Bottas in last year’s race the real King of the Ring is Mercedes – they have won every race at the circuit since its reintroduction in 2014.
A NEW RECORD IN LAP RECORDS!
The current F1 Regs have certainly been responsible for some very quick cars. As in every other race to date this season the qualifying lap record was set last year (excluding France as that was not on the calendar in 2017).
Unlike every other race to date the race lap record as well as the quali record was also set in 2017. At all tracks but one so far this year the race lap record was set in 2004 by Michael Schumacher (and once by Rubens Barrichello) in their potent Ferraris. The fact that the race was not held at the Red Bull Ring (then the A1 Ring) in 2004 may account for the lack of a Prancing Horse as the record holder!
4 things to look out for in the race this weekend
Mercedes have certainly been dominant at the Red Bull Ring over the past four years. In addition, their updated power unit revealed at Paul Ricard appeared to give the Silver Arrows the edge over Ferrari and Red Bull. The combination of these two factors will surely put both Hamilton and Bottas in the box seats this Sunday.
Renault are set to bring an updated MGU-K this weekend which will be available to both the factory and customer teams.
The Renaults, McLarens and Red Bulls will benefit from upgraded power units this weekend
Fernando Alonso in the Renault-powered McLaren with no doubt be happy to take any advantage he can get at what seems to be a bogey track for one of the sport’s best.
Two full-season rookies have achieved a clean 6:0 sweep over their team mates in our head to head battles so far this year: Pierre Gasly and Charles Leclerc have had a phenomenal start to the year and both Brendon Hartley and Marcus Ericsson will be super keen to claw some ground back.
Will Lewis Hamilton continue to be the King of the Red Bull Ring?