Max Verstappen lines up on pole with Lewis Hamilton beside him and George Russell looks set to secure his first set of championship points for Williams.
While the Styrian Grand Prix weekend was expected to be a wet and exciting one, we have been gifted with dry-running and… yeah, anything but rain.
However, it won’t stop the exciting battle that will commence on the Red Bull Ring at 2pm (BST) as the championship continues to heat up.
Here are five things to watch for in the Styrian Grand Prix.
George Russell = Points?
While Russell managed to score his first set of championship points in Formula One during the Sakhir Grand Prix, when he replaced the Covid-strickened seven-time world champion at Mercedes in 2020.
However, he hasn’t seen any points added to his name for Williams, who he has been driving for since his F1 debut in 2019.
The British Williams driver will be lined up in 10th on the grid this afternoon, after Alpha Tauri’s Yuki Tsunoda was issued with a three-place grid penalty for impeding Mercedes Finn, Valtteri Bottas in yesterday’s qualifying.
With a free choice of tyres, as he failed to progress into Q3 by 0.008s, the young Briton looks to have a great chance of securing some points for the Wantage outfit since 2019.
Following the events that happened in France, the defending world champion is currently trailing his main championship rival, Max Verstappen, by 12 points.
After yesterday’s qualifying, Hamilton will be lined up alongside the Dutch Red Bull as his teammate, Bottas, serves his three-place grid penalty for an unusual spin in the pit lane during FP2.
If Hamilton can’t convert his second place start into the lead by turn one, the next available opportunity will be at turn three after the long straight. But, he will need to be relatively close to the Red Bull to maintain the fight on track or attempt an undercut.
Even if Hamilton is able to secure victory for the first round in Austria, and Verstappen finishes second, it won’t be enough to topple the leading Red Bull but it will claw back some of the points lost in Baku and Monaco.
Rain, Rain, Come This Way
Weather forecast predicitons are usually disliked, or hated, amongst the F1 community – as some sort of jinx. However, there still stands a chance of some rain.
While it was expected to be a very wet and miserable time for the teams in Austria, and potentially exciting times for the audience. The weather has done a 180 degree turn and provided us with dry running throughout the weekend.
However, according to The Weather Channel, Spielberg (the city where the Red Bull Ring is situated) is set to experience overcast weather this afternoon.
It forecasts cloudy weather between 1pm and 3pm. During race time, it predicts a 12% chance of rain, building up to 17% in the latter stages of the Styrian Grand Prix.
Last Lap Lando?
McLaren’s Lando Norris will be lined up on the second row of the grid after inheriting third place after Bottas’ penalty.
This starting position will give McLaren and the young Briton one of the best chances to secure their third podium of the season, following their previous two in Monaco and Imola.
Almost a year ago, when F1 was postponed as the world came to grips with the Covid-19 pandemic, Norris put in a blistering final lap in the sports first race of 2020.
The young Briton toppled Hamilton from the podium after the seven-time world champion picked up a five-second time penalty for a collision with former Red Bull driver, Alexander Albon.
McLaren look to be in a season-long fight with the likes of Ferrari for the ‘best of the rest’ title in the constructors championship. Another podium for the McLaren protege will surely help their efforts for a P3 finish in the constructors.
Red Bull are Home
While Red Bull are based in the United Kingdom with their headquarters situtated in Milton Keynes, Austria is the teams home country.
On home soil, Red Bull done very well as Verstappen put in the quickest FP1 and FP2 times – and pole position yesterday.
While his teammate, Sergio Perez, still seems to be coming to grips with his RB16B. The Mexican only managed to grab P5 in yesterday’s qualifying which will turn into P4 after Bottas’ penalty.
However, the duo have worked well in previous races this season, with Perez taking up a supporting role to Verstappen. Which builds a promising case for Red Bull to start a slowly pulling away from their title rival, Mercedes.
In the end, the Styrian Grand Prix will mark the eighth round of the 2021 championship. However, on a track where drivers spend 79% of the lap (71 laps in total) at full throttle, reliability issues may start to leak through.