Spielberg (Austria) (AFP) – The Austrian Grand Prix offers the perfect antidote to Dutch champion Max Verstappen’s disappointment in the final leg of British Silverstone as he competes in the eleventh stage of the Formula 1 World Championship at his Red Bull team’s home.
“Mad Max” wrote his name in the winner’s record at the track owned by the Austrian pit (Red Bull Ring), after crushing the competition last year by winning the Austrian and Styrian Grand Prix respectively, which were held on the same track. held .
After these two wins, Verstappen increased his tally to four wins out of 7 on the shortest first-class circuit and 26 wins in his record, and this year he has the chance to climb to the highest threshold on the podium twice after deciding to host to be Red Bull Circuit for one of the three sprint races scheduled for this year.
The 100-kilometer sprint gives the winner the chance to score 8 points, while Verstappen again proves to be the favorite to win first place on Sunday, coming back from Austria with a full harvest (34 points).
At 24, Verstappen hopes to keep his title for a second year, especially as he has a plan “Maybe I’ll stop in 2028,” he told Dutch newspaper De Telegraaf.
The Dutch driver loves to sprint, as he won the first race of its kind at the Italian Imola circuit, and 24 hours later added to his record the Emilia-Romagna Grand Prix and fastest lap point in the race.
A repeat of the feat would only be a catalyst after a grueling time for the Red Bull driver in the epic British Grand Prix when the rubble of his Alpha Tauri came to rest after Japanese team-mates Yuki Tsunoda and France’s Pierre Gasly broke up. collided as he was looking for his seventh win of the season out of 10 races, just finishing seventh.
Verstappen topped the drivers’ standings at the start of the era of the new generation of Formula 1 cars with 181 points, 34 points ahead of his Mexican colleague Sergio “Chico” Perez, who won on the streets of the Principality of Monaco, and 43 ahead of Ferraris. Monaco’s Charles Leclerc, who appeared angry at frustration with his team’s strategies, which favored his Spanish colleague Carlos Sainz, to open the latter at Silverstone, his tally of first-category wins.
The last victory of Leclerc, who finished fourth in the last round, is due to Australia, i.e. 3 months ago.
Pires tried to snatch the lead from Science while seven-time world champion homeowner Lewis Hamilton waited for his rivals to take his ninth win at Silverstone and his first this season, but without succeeding, he was content with a car he extended. made modifications that allowed him to fight Red Bull and Ferrari quickly finished third, failing to end their negative run by failing to win 11 races in a row.
Mercedes to beat the adults?
Silverstone fans chased Verstappen and clearly expressed their dismay at the Red Bull driver who robbed “The Walk” of his record eighth title last year, prompting Britain’s Christian Horner to say clearly ahead of this weekend’s race : “Maybe we’ll get a warmer reception than there”.
Spielberg is not a Mercedes track and Austrian director Toto Wolff confirmed this by saying: “It’s a very different track to Silverstone and it hasn’t always suited us in the past.”
Aside from the fast corners at Silverstone, the Austrian circuit with its “slow” corners is not the dreamland of Mercedes, which has only won twice in six races since 2018.
Although the Austrian mountains are in mid-summer and the snow is melting, it will be orange as thousands of Dutch fans are likely to flock this weekend.
Verstappen called on his fans not to respond to the provocations of the Hamilton fans and told De Telegraaf: “They don’t have to do that for me. It’s not like it gives me extra strength or anything like that.”
On the other hand, Mercedes had tangible evidence at Silverstone that its efforts to rid the volatile “Silver Arrows” of its rebound mistakes paid off.
But the question arises: will Hamilton have a chance to beat the big boys? After the start of a year dominated by Red Bull (7 wins) and Ferrari (3), the German squad hopes to turn the reality of climbing to the podiums (3 each for Hamilton and his colleague George Russell) into victories .
“See you in Austria!”
“We will keep our heads low, prepare as best we can and hopefully we can build on Silverstone’s momentum,” said Wolff.
Wolff confirmed that Hamilton, who has topped a race for the first time this season and is battling for first place, had a “brilliant” race last Sunday and that the team was “proud of the character” displayed by colleagues. newcomer Russell.
The world of Formula 1 paid tribute to Russell’s sporting action when he decided to park his car on the track and go to the scene of the accident sustained by Chinese Djiguo Guanyu, the horrific survivor of the accident, after his Alfa Romeo car flipped over and crossed. the tire barrier to the last barrier separating the track from the crowd.
Guanyu praised the single-seater’s safety features and the halo security system for saving his life, tweeting after the accident: “Now more than ever I want to get back on track. See you in Austria!”
With the introduction of the sprint race, the traditional racing system is changing, with the first free practice period and qualifying for the sprint race on Friday, followed by the second free practice period determining the starting grid for Sunday’s race.
© 2022 AFP