F1: Austrian Grand Prix Preview
 (Photo: Getty Images/NurPhoto)

F1: Austrian Grand Prix Preview

Will Mercedes continue to run away with the 2019 campaign or will Ferrari and red Bull finally provide them some real competition?

broganclasper
Brogan Clasper

Lewis Hamilton extended his lead in the 2019 Driver Standings to 36 points after his sixth win of the season in France but faces a return to Austria this weekend where he dramatically retired in last year's race. 

The Austrian Grand Prix is a race in which has proven fruitful for Mercedes over the years after claiming four out of the last five wins there. 

Hamilton has now won six out of the opening races in the 2019 campaign with his Mercedes team-mate Valtteri Bottas claiming the other two victories. 

However, the main battle last week in France came further down the field in the battle for the 'best of the rest' after Mercedes once again dominated. 

McLaren prevailed with Carlos Sainz finishing sixth but Lando Norris dropped to finish in ninth after a thrilling final lap. 

The track

The Red Bull Ring was reintroduced back to the F1 calendar in 2014 and since then Mercedes dominated until last year when they suffered a double retirement.

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It is a 4.32km track which consists of only nine corners and is the shortest lap time on the calendar at under 70 seconds. 

Four long straights, with three DRS zones providing plenty of opportunities for overtaking despite the elevated climb going into the first three corners. 

Turn 1, as always will provide a great opportunity for drivers further down on the grid to leapfrog those infront of them as Kimi Räikkönen did last year.

The current race lap record is held by Räikkönen after he set a time of 1:06.957 in last year's race. 

Max Verstappen claimed first in Red Bull's first ever victory at their home track with the two Ferarri's of Räikkönen and Sebastian Vettel making up the podium. 

Hamilton was left furious after claiming his team cost him the victory as they did not pit when the Virtual Safety car was deployed - before he was forced to retire.   

Verstappen, however, did pit and took the chequered flag which changed the look of the driver's standings with Hamilton on top before the race then moving down to second behind Vettel. 

Bottas believes

Bottas is the only driver other than his teammate to claim a victory in this year's championship. 

The Finn has said ahead of the race that he still believes he is capable of beating the five-time champion. 

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“He’s not unbeatable… but he’s quick on a Sunday and very efficient on the tyres… it’s my race pace that needs working on,” said Bottas. 

However, Ferrari boss Mattio Binotto has admitted he is pleased despite not claiming maximum points yet this campaign.

“We are happy to be getting back on track so quickly because it’s the best way to put ourselves to the test again to try and understand the elements that did not go according to plan in France," he said.  

"We have various test items to evaluate, mainly in order to give us a clearer picture as to why some of the updates we brought to Le Castellet did not work as expected.”

When to watch

Friday, June 28

10am: Free Practice One

2pm: Free Practice Two 

Saturday, June 29

11pm: Free Practice Three

2pm: Qualifying

Sunday, June 30

2:10pm  Race

All times BST.

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