The return of Formula 1: Spielberg double-header preview

Four words that all motorsport fans have been dying to here; Formula 1 is back.

This weekend, we will have the first race of the 2020 season, which has been delayed due to the worldwide coronavirus pandemic. The next two races will be called the Austrian Grand Prix (this Sunday) and the Styrian Grand Prix (next Sunday), although both will be at the same track.

In preparation for this double header at the Red Bull Ring in Spielberg, here’s a quick preview with everything you need to know.

TEAMS AND DRIVERS (in alphabetical order):

Alfa Romeo Racing – Kimi Raikkonen and Antonio Giovinazzi

AlphaTauri – Pierre Gasly and Daniil Kvyat

Ferrari – Sebastian Vettel and Charles Leclerc

Haas – Romain Grosjean and Kevin Magnussen

McLaren – Lando Norris and Carlos Sainz Jr.

Mercedes – Lewis Hamilton and Valtteri Bottas

Racing Point – Sergio Perez and Lance Stroll

Red Bull – Alex Albon and Max Verstappen

Renault – Daniel Ricciardo and Esteban Ocon

Williams – George Russell and Nicholas Latifi

2019 POLE POSITION:

Charles Leclerc (Ferrari) – 1: 03: 003

2019 RESULT:

  1. Max Verstappen (Red Bull) – 1: 22: 01: 822 (and fastest lap, 1: 07: 475)
  2. Charles Leclerc (Ferrari) – +2.724
  3. Valtteri Bottas (Mercedes) – +18.960

SURPRISE RESULTS LAST YEAR:

Hamilton finishing 5th was a surprise, with the Mercedes team fighting against overheating problems that caused them to control their pace much more.

It wasn’t a surprise, but Haas did not have a good weekend, with Romain Grosjean finishing in 16th place, whilst his teammate Kevin Magnussen was in 19th. Given they had started the race in 10th and 11th on the grid, they would have been hopeful of getting points in the race.

TRACK LAP RECORD:

Kimi Raikkonen, 2018, for Ferrari: 1: 06: 957

WHAT COULD HAPPEN THIS TIME:

Viewers of last year’s race will remember that the race’s biggest talking point was whether Max Verstappen pushed Charles Leclerc off the road during their race. However, throw into that Hamilton, and you have a potential three-way fight for the top spot on the podium. Last year, overheating problems meant he and Bottas couldn’t drive at top speed, but this time things will be different.

McLaren could also join that party, as across last year they showed that they are closing the gap on the supposed “top 3” of Mercedes, Ferrari and Red Bull. Lando Norris is one of the sport’s most promising drivers, and Carlos Sainz, who will take Sebastian Vettel’s place at Ferrari next year, is also a solid racer.

The Red Bull Ring doesn’t have too many twists and turns, and is one of the shortest tracks on the ordinary calendar, so there is plenty of opportunity for the drivers to show what they can do on the straights. However, given it is the first race in over half a year, perhaps we should err on the side of caution before expecting too much.

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