It’s a rare back-to-back weekend for Formula One this week as they’ll compete in Sunday’s Austrian Grand Prix (9 a.m. ET/ESPN). Lewis Hamilton had a rough go of it last year but enters this year’s edition on the heels of a win last weekend in France making it his fourth straight on the season.
Can he go 5 in-a-row on Sunday?
Here’s the top storylines.
Will Mercedes Be The Ones To Beat…Again?
Last year was a double retirement for the Mercedes duo in Spielberg. I highly doubt that a DNF will happen again this weekend. Hamilton, has won four straight races including six of the last seven overall. He’s finished runner-up in his other two starts this year.
While he hasn’t scored a podium since his Austrian Grand Prix win in 2016, he did have three straight top two finishes in his first three stats on the 2.683-mile road course.
With how this season is going, why bet against Hamilton.
But, what about Valtteri Bottas. I think he needs a max points weekend in order to close this gap. Bottas, won this race in 2017 and is a two time pole winner in Austria. He also has two wins and four runner-ups in 2019 as well.
With that, I think this is Mercedes’ race to lose. They’ve won four of the last five years.
Is Hamilton That Much Quicker Than Bottas?
Through the early portions of this season, it appeared that Bottas had just as much speed as his teammate Hamilton. Through four races, they each had two wins and two runner-up finishes. But, over the course of the last four races, the advantage has gone to Hamilton.
Bottas, has two runner-ups but also finishes of third and fourth as well. Meanwhile, Hamilton hasn’t lost.
He just beat Bottas by 18 seconds last weekend at Circuit Paul Ricard. Does he have that much more speed than his teammate?
If Bottas wants to contend for this championship, he has to have a max points weekend in Austria.
Red Bull Redemption?
Last year, Max Verstappen gave Red Bull a win on their hometrack. Can he repeat in 2019? Right now, I’d say no but only because of the Mercedes duo’s pace. I do think Verstappen can get back on the podium for the third time in his last four Austrian Grand Prix starts.
The Dutch driver finished runner-up in 2016 and won last year. He’s been a top five machine in 2019 too with scoring a top five result in all eight races. The thing is though, out of those eight top five’s are just two podiums. He has five fourth place finishes in his No. 33 Aston Martin Red Bull Racing Honda.
That means he’s the top driver not of the Mercedes duo and one Ferrari. He’s consistently beating one Ferrari and his RBR teammate of Pierre Gasly, but he just can’t get past fourth.
Maybe that changes on Sunday.
Can Gasly Get Strong Result?
You know he has to hear it. The noise is growing louder and louder about Gasly’s future with Red Bull. Could they let him go after just one season?
Gasly, finished 11th in this race last year and has failed to score a podium all year. In fact, he has one top five and that was a fifth place run. He’s only finished in the points in five of the eight races in 2019.
That’s not good enough for a Red Bull driver.
So, with this being Red Bull’s home race, they need a top five out of him on Sunday. Can he deliver?
Ferrari’s Should Be Better
They struggled in France but with slower corners in Chicago, the Ferrari’s gap to the Mercedes duo should shrink a bit. But, how much? Sebastian Vettel has finished in the top five in all eight races but only half of them were on the podium. He does have two straight podium finishes in Austria including a runner-up in 2017 and third place run last year.
Charles LeClerc was ninth in this race last year and has two straight third place runs on the year.
I doubt the Ferrari’s can top the Mercedes, but can they hold off Verstappen for a spot on the podium?