(Photo Credit: John Mann Reuters)
A heavyweight bout between Max Verstappen and Lewis Hamilton for the F1 drivers championship is entering the ninth round as F1 returns to the Red Bull Ring for the second weekend in a row for the Austrian Grand Prix. After a dominating performance a week before, Max Verstappen looks to sweep both races in Austria. The exciting finale of a three-race stretch awaits us this weekend.
Track Facts: Like Monza later this year, the Red Bull Ring is one of the fastest tracks on the F1 calendar each year. Where at multiple points on the circuit you can see speeds slightly above 200 miles per hour (about 328 kph). With only nine corners and three DRS zones, things come quickly and encourages action with the track being one of the widest on the calendar. Coming to turn one (which is named after the famed F1 driver Niki Lauda) an uphill, right-hand turn that comes off the tail end of the first DRS zone that is on the main straight. The longest straightaway leading to turn two also has another DRS zone and is the fastest part of the race track, that leads to the hardest braking zone at the circuit with speeds being as low as 60 miles per hour. Coming off of two and going into a downhill right-hand corner is another DRS zone that can see speeds up to 195 miles per hour. This track is very power dependent with an average on throttle time at 71% of the entire lap The track record is held by Valtteri Bottas with a blazing fast time of 1:02.94. Only three drivers in the field have won in Austria; Lewis Hamilton, Valtteri Bottas, and Max Verstappen.
Event History: Formula One has been going to the Red Bull Ring since 1970 when Jacky Ickx took his Ferrari to the winners circle before the track was reconfigured to the current layout in 1987. Max Verstappen and Valtteri Bottas have both won this race twice, tying them with the F1 greats such as former world champions Michael Schumacher and Nico Rosberg. Lewis Hamilton, the only other active winner in the Austrian Grand Prix, only won the event once back in 2016.
2020 Event: By only a couple hundredths of a second, Bottas qualified first over his teammate Hamilton for the opening event for the 2020 Formula One World Championship. Trouble came early for Max Verstappen as he began to slow down due to an electrical issue for his Red Bull Honda which forced him to retire. Bottas had the car to beat as he held on to take the first win of the season. Rounding out the podium was the Ferrari of Charles Leclerc and the McLaren of Lando Norris.
Predictions: After seeing the dominating performance by Verstappen last week at the Red Bull Ring, it would be a difficult decision to go against the young man from the Netherlands. So your betting favorites would be Hamilton, Verstappen, or Bottas taking the win this weekend. But I wouldn't count out Sergio Perez to take the win or a podium finish away as he was gaining ground on Bottas late last weekend. Even though Pierre Gasly did not even complete one lap, he had great pace in each on-track session last weekend as he could be a challenger in the midfield battle with Ferrari and McLaren. Speaking of McLaren, Lando Norris has been the only driver to score points for the team as Daniel Ricciardo's awful start to the season continues. With rain being in the forecast for this weekend, look for Lewis Hamilton to take the victory this weekend as the championship battle gets more cut-throat from here on out.
How to Watch: You can catch the Austrian Grand Prix on ESPN at 9:55 A.M. EST.
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