Formula One is back in Europe, well at least the European continent anyway. The Austrian Grand Prix is one of those difficult ones, and defies the new convention of Formula One circuits, buried deep in the Styrian mountains in rural Austria.
Built on the site of the former Osterrichring, the new Red Bull Ring is one of the shorter circuits on the calendar, and could have one of the fastest times of the year. The beautiful surroundings to the circuit tell their own story, the higher altitude allowing more power from the turbo engines, and the downforce effect reduced from the wings, it could be another whitewash from Mercedes – that is of course they can start well and are reliable.
Baku should really have been Hamilton’s race, he looked the faster of the two drivers all weekend if at times slightly erratic, but qualifying was really his undoing after he got rattled. A lead for Rosberg heading to the half time in season will give a boost to the German’s camp after leading for the whole season so far, but the reduction in points by Hamilton in Monaco and Canada show that it only takes a couple of poor races to be right on terms again, and just a year ago it was Rosbergs win!
The air between Hamilton and Rosberg seems to have changed with a new found respect found between them, despite the close battle they have on track. A recent liaison in Monaco at the swimming pool their apartments share seems to have settled their relationship, but now looking to commit to Mercedes long term – not good news for Pascal Wehrlein or Valtteri Bottas who are looking for the next step.
One team that doesn’t have that trouble is Red Bull. Daniel Ricciardo and Max Verstappen are locked in for a number of years at the team, with Carlos Sainz looking like he will be extending his Toro Rosso deal for another two, there looks to be a great deal of stability in the Red Bull camp. Even Daniil Kvyat could be retained beyond the end of the season with little prospect of another driver taking his seat. Pierre Gasly has still yet to win in GP2 and looks quite unconvincing and no obvious youngster ready to make the jump, that of course unless he is poached!
We’re firmly heading into ‘silly season’ now, and the rumour of Jenson heading to Williams will not go away, you need to hang on though until at least September, and a move by Felipe Massa could happen first with him also linked to a drive at Renault.
The race this weekend. Expect it to be fast!