The 2023 Formula 1 season has been dominated by one team so far: Red Bull. We have a preview and predictions for the Austrian Grand Prix.
Two-time world champion Max Verstappen has won six of the eight races and he is such a big favourite to win a hat-trick of titles. We have odds on who’ll win the championship (without Verstappen)
However, a fortnight ago at the Canadian Grand Prix, Max’s winning margin wasn’t as much as usual and we were glad to see significant progress made by Mercedes, Aston Martin, and even Ferrari.
That shines a different light on this Sprint weekend’s race in Austria at the Red Bull Ring in Spielberg.
At 4.3km long it is the shortest non-street circuit on the calendar. The first two sectors are made up of three straights punctuated by two right-handers heading uphill.
That section includes two DRS zones (remember they’re only activated after lap 2). A setup favouring straight-line speed will reward drivers here with 79% of the lap spent at full throttle.
The remaining part of the lap has been compared to a toboggan ride as there is little time to breathe through several quick corners heading downhill. What’s needed is low to medium downforce and most teams favour this setup for Austria.
Other interesting facts include the top speed being around 330km/h and the distance from the start line to turn one being 216 metres. We expect the tyre degradation to come into play and expect a two or even three-stop race. The time lost in the pitlane is 16.1 seconds.
Aston Martin, Mercedes, and Ferrari All In With A Shout?
The first Sprint race in Azerbaijan saw Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc grab the pole position in both sessions. Leclerc’s pace over one lap will be a warning to Red Bull and co.
The Monegasque driver showed good pace alongside teammate Carlos Sainz in the final stint at the Canadian GP. They’ll be keen to exploit the SF-23’s pace in Austria.
Mercedes scored another podium position via Lewis Hamilton in Canada. The team downplayed their chances at the street circuit in Montreal but was the third-quickest team over the weekend.
Mercedes will feel quietly confident that the W13 is better suited to the Red Bull Ring look to beat Aston Martin and hopefully close the gap to Red Bull.
The cat among the pigeons this season has been Aston Martin’s, Fernando Alonso. The 41-year-old has scored six podiums in eight races and has consistently beaten Mercedes and Ferrari.
The AMR23 will relish the second half of the track as it’s rapid through the fast to medium corners. We saw a fantastic (and clean) battle between Hamilton and Alonso two weeks ago, however, both will hope to be fighting with Max instead of one another.
Two other drivers we think you should be looking out for are Alex Albon and Lando Norris. The British drivers are both in heavily upgraded cars for Williams and McLaren respectively.
Albon drove exceptionally well to bag seventh place in Canada, and it’ll be interesting to see how many points he can score this weekend. Norris will want to better a 14th place finish last time out, and the layout should suit McLaren. Watch out for the rapid Alpine in the hands of Esteban Ocon and Pierre Gasly.