By News Team
24th June 2021
Formula One’s European triple-header moves onto the Styrian mountains of Austria for consecutive race weekends at the Red Bull Ring, a venue which also hosted back-to-back races in 2020.
Red Bull go into their home race on the back of three consecutive wins in Monaco, Azerbaijan and France, the first time they have done so during the hybrid-era and they now lead Mercedes by 47 points in the Constructors Standings after 7 seven races.
Another win this weekend could really start to amp pressure up on their title rivals – check out our race preview below.
Can Red Bull really beat Mercedes anywhere?
In the build-up to last week’s French Grand Prix, Red Bull boss Christian Horner declared that if his team could beat Mercedes at Paul Ricard, a track they had never won a race at before, then they could beat them anywhere. It may have required a bold strategy call in moving to a two-stop and some help from the Mercs, but Verstappen did win the race, passing Hamilton with ease on the penultimate lap.
Mercedes may well have expected to be the quicker car but were left disappointed after Verstappen landed a Grand Slam of pole position, the race win and fastest lap for the first time in his career. Whilst the Mercs were undoubtedly wrong not to move at least one car to a two-stop after the early pitters such as Charles Leclerc began to struggle on the hard tyre, Red Bull had put them firmly between a rock and a hard place by undercutting Hamilton in the pits and were able to make the first move on strategy as the Silver Arrows had done in Spain.
What is now clear is that the two teams are as close as they’ve ever been during the hybrid era and we are set for an epic Verstappen versus Hamilton shootout for the Driver’s title week-after-week this season. Red Bull’s improved straight-line speed, combined with the benefits of their high-rake package, means they will be able to contest on any circuit this season.
Sergio Perez finished on the podium for consecutive races for the first time in his career and will continue to win plaudits within his garage and elsewhere if he can repeatedly finish ahead of Mercedes’ Valtteri Bottas, who once endured another frustrating finish despite keeping pace with the front two for most of the race. Checo is 6/5 to land a third consecutive podium and currently 9/1 to win the race, with Bottas 10/1 to take the chequered flag and 5/4 to bounce back with a podium.
With three race wins to their name already this season, don’t be surprised to see Verstappen and Hamilton once again fighting it out all weekend. Verstappen is evens to land a second consecutive pole position, and 5/4 to win on Sunday, with Hamilton also 5/4 to win and 5/4 to qualify on pole position.
McLaren emerging from the pack as Ferrari faulter
As clear as it has been that Mercedes and Red Bull are squabbling over first and second positions in the Constructor’s standings, it’s been equally as clear that the battle for third and fourth spot will come down to McLaren and Ferrari.
Ferrari once again indicated in France that their one-lap pace is far superior to their overall race pace, with both Charles Leclerc and Carlos Sainz out qualifying their McLaren rivals Lando Norris and Daniel Ricciardo, only to both finish outside the points. Both admitted to struggling on their hard tyres during the second stint and fell back through the field as the race progressed.
Conversely for McLaren, who started 8th and 10th and finished 5th and 6th, their race day set-up and strategy calls helped them to cut through the field in the second phase of the race to collect a good bundle of points at Le Castellet. They now lead the Scuderia by 16 points, with Lando Norris remaining 4th in the Driver Standings after his impressively consistent start to the season.
While the Ferrari’s strength of low-speed corners could potentially give them some advantage at the main overtaking zone in Turn 2, the overall package McLaren are able to bring to race day should give them an edge in Austria.