2021 Formula One Austrian Grand Prix preview: A return to the Red Bull Ring

After all of the action of last weekend’s Styrian Grand Prix at Austria’s Red Bull Ring, teams are back to do it all again this weekend during the Austrian Grand Prix, which serves as round nine of the 2021 Formula One World Championship.

Organizers decided to host back-to-back rounds in Austria to fill in for one of the rounds canceled by Covid-19 disruptions, just like last year.

This provides teams with an opportunity, as having just raced on the Red Bull Ring, they know exactly how their cars performed and what tweaks are required.

However, there will always be surprises cropping up. There are also some planned changes. One is Pirelli nominating a slightly softer set of tires. For the Austrian Grand Prix, Pirelli nominated the P Zero White hard as the C3, the P Zero Yellow medium the C4 and the P Zero Red soft the C5, versus the P Zero White hard as the C2, the P Zero Yellow medium the C2 and the P Zero Red soft the C4 used in the Styrian Grand Prix. Teams normally use a one-stop strategy here.

Another change is that, after testing a small audience last weekend, a full crowd will be allowed into the circuit this time. A third change is a probability rather than a certainty, as it concerns the weather, with the threat of rain and cooler temperatures during Sunday’s race, which could therefore shake up the order.

The track itself is unchanged. At a short 2.688 miles in length, it takes just 68 seconds to complete a lap. There are only 10 corners, which is the fewest of any circuit on the calendar, but with four long straights, the speed the cars reach more than makes up for any lack of drama.

Red Bull Racing’s Max Verstappen dominated last weekend’s Styrian Grand Prix in a fashion that we’ve rarely seen in the hybrid era outside of Mercedes-Benz AMG, with the Dutch youngster having secured pole and then leading the race from start to finish. Mercedes has no doubt spent the past few days trying to extract more performance from its car, so it will be interesting to see if the team has pulled it off.

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Going into Saturday’s qualifying and Sunday’s race, Verstappen leads the 2021 Drivers’ Championship with 156 points. Mercedes’ Lewis Hamilton is second with 138 points and Red Bull’s Sergio Perez is third with 96 points. In the Constructors’ Championship, Red Bull leads with 252 points versus the 212 of Mercedes and 120 of McLaren. Last year’s winner of the Austrian Grand Prix was Valtteri Bottas driving for Mercedes.

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