The Austrians will be painting the Red Bull Ring orange.
There ain't no rest for the wicked as the F1 circus is already set up at the Red Bull Ring in Austria for the next round of the 2022 season. The last race occurred less than a week ago, with Carlos Sainz scoring his first-ever victory after 150 Grand Prix. We're not entirely sure his hangover has gone away yet.
The big news heading into the Austrian Grand Prix is Mercedes-Benz finally catching up with the rest of the pack. Merc's boss, Toto Wolff, is still not entirely convinced, but more on that later.
What we're hoping for is another epic showdown like we saw last Sunday. We finally had three cars duking it out at the top, and F1 fans are the winners.
Formerly known as the A1 Ring, the Red Bull Ring is the spiritual home of the Red Bull team. As if the name isn't on the nose enough, there's a massive Iron Bull right in the middle. While it's neither Sergio Perez nor Max Verstappen's home Grand Prix, it is the home of the entire team, so they'll need to perform. The fans are always there and they'll be painting the sky orange.
The Red Bull Ring is relatively short for an F1 track, but it packs a punch. The teams will run for 71 laps, and plenty of overtaking possibilities exist. Most of the tracks so far have only had two DRS zones, but three are currently planned for the Red Bull Ring. This might not be the case during the race, as the race director has axed a DRS zone before.
The Ring (oddly) has multiple straights, which should suit the straight-line speed of the Red Bulls perfectly. But with three teams now battling at the front, the many overtaking possibilities will undoubtedly come into play.
There was a massive accident on the first lap of the British Grand Prix last weekend. Zhou Guanyu demonstrated why the halo device is perhaps the most critical F1 safety improvement of the previous two decades.
If you look at the video below, you'd never guess that Zhou would be back in the seat less than a week later, but he'll be in Austria, ready to race. Alex Albon also connected with the barrier to the right quite hard, but Williams has confirmed that he'll also be running this weekend.
The crash likely made a dent in quite a few budgets, and it will be interesting to see if it results in grid penalties in upcoming races.
Though teams and racers aren't fans of Sprint Races, we love them. It adds an additional layer to an already action-packed weekend. The qualifying for the sprint takes place on Friday afternoon, while the sprint race takes the usual qualifying spot on Saturday.
Valtteri Bottas dominated the sprint races last year, while Max Verstappen dominated the Imola Sprint race earlier this year.
The sprint not only determines the starting grid for the full race on Sunday, but drivers have a fantastic opportunity to score valuable points. Verstappen is currently in the lead with 181 points, while Charles Leclerc has collected 138 points.
This year the winner of the sprint will add eight points to their tally, up from a measly three points in 2021. If Leclerc wins the sprint, the race, and manages to set the fastest lap, he can potentially gain 34 points.
The winner of the sprint won't necessarily be on pole, however. While it determines the rest of the grid, the pole qualifier on Friday will start the race at the front on Sunday.
Mercedes boss, Toto Wolff, spoke with Formula 1 earlier this week, and he thinks that Hamilton would have won the British Grand Prix if it weren't for the safety car deployment during Lap 39. We're not fans of "could have" because you could just as easily argue that Verstappen would have easily won had he not picked up a piece of carbon fiber from a crashed AlphaTauri.
The good news is that Merc's upgrades package worked beautifully. Hamilton's Mercedes could match the pace of the Red Bulls and Ferraris for the first time this season. Even so, Toto Wolff is not entirely positive going into the weekend.
"I think Austria was always a little bit difficult," said Wolff. "There are three corners that we don't like, three and four with a warp. But high speed should be good there and Paul Ricard should be a good one, but we have to sort out the car generally."
Ferrari looked better than all the teams at the start of the season. The car was stupid fast, with two highly talented drivers behind the wheel. But it just can't seem to get the strategy right.
Charles Leclerc was perfectly set up for a win at Silverstone, and then the safety car emerged on lap 39. Instead of taking the bonus pit stop, Ferrari chose to keep Leclerc out there on hard tires. Carlos Sainz pitted and scored a new set of medium tires, which helped him secure his first win.
While we're happy for Sainz, Ferrari's focus should be on Leclerc. He's the only person on the grid (apart from Sergio Perez) that can dethrone Max Verstappen. Leclerc was visibly upset, and rightly so.
The cameras likely won't know where to focus this weekend because multiple battles will happen simultaneously.
In the midfield, we have McLaren against Alpine and Alfa Romeo. Thanks to Fernando Alonso, Alpine is now a mere six points behind McLaren. McLaren is ready for the fight, however. Andreas Seidl, McLaren F1's boss, is optimistic and is on record stating that the current car is perfectly set up for the Red Bull Ring. Alpine hit back, stating the same. Alfa Romeo said it needs to work on reliability, which is par for the course for the Italian brand.
At the front, we have six cars, all vying for the top spot. George Russell was part of the massive crash during the first lap, so he was out. Max Verstappen picked up a piece of AlphaTauri, which damaged the floor of this car.
It will be interesting to see how the battle at the front pans out with these two in the mix. Last week we had Leclerc, Hamilton, and Perez fighting for second. Perez eventually won the fight, but it was not easy.
Russell is a reserved racer, but Max Verstappen is pure aggression packaged into a little Dutchman. Thrown into that mix, he likely would have emerged victorious.
Whichever way you cut it, Silverstone was the best Grand Prix of the season, even with the current championship leader neutered by a piece of carbon fiber. Having him back in top racing form can only result in a glorious event.