Austrian Grand Prix Preview
There’s no rest for the weary as Formula 1 heads direct from the South of France to the Styrian hills for the Austrian Grand Prix this weekend.
Lewis Hamilton’s march to a sixth world title continued with his most commanding victory so far in 2019 this past Sunday at Paul Ricard, and there’s little reason to expect anything much different in Spielberg. See last weeks picks here.
As for Ferrari and Red Bull, the task of catching the mighty Mercedes only gets more daunting with every 1-2 finish, while the midfield battling is heating up too as the battle for fourth takes shape.
About the Austrian GP:
Much like the last race in France, Austria is enjoying a renaissance on the F1 calendar, having returned from a lengthy absence in 2014.
This is all thanks to Red Bull and billionaire CEO Dietrich Mateschitz, who bought the former A1 Ring and redeveloped it back for purpose after years of decline.
The circuit itself remains the same nine or ten-corner design (based on which map you read) which F1 raced on between 1997 and 2003, but its history goes well back beyond that.
From 1970 to 1987, F1 raced on the original version of the track, known as the Osterriechring, which was much longer and featured some terrifying corners.
Most notably the flat-out Turn 1 at Voest-Hugel, which was later redesigned as the Hella-Licht chicane, and the Bosch Kurve, a high-speed long right-hander with no run-off which saw the turbo cars of the late 1980’s approaching at well over 200mph.
Names like Emerson Fittipaldi, Alan Jones, Niki Lauda, Alain Prost and Nigel Mansell all won on this circuit before eventually, it was dropped for safety reasons.
The Austrian GP has seen some crazy moments over the years.
One is the story of Andreas de Cesaris who, in 1985, was fired by Ligier after lying about crashing his car spectacularly, with the team boss stating he couldn’t afford his constant repair bills.
Perhaps the most infamous incident came in 2002 when Ferrari ordered Rubens Barrichello to give up the victory to Michael Schumacher, with the Brazilian obliging just metres from the finish line.
Since its comeback, Mercedes have largely dominated, although Felipe Massa claimed his final F1 pole for Williams in 2014.
Then in 2016, Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg would collide at Turn 2 on the final lap as the Briton took the victory in another controversial finish.
Last year, however, both Silver Arrows would retire with mechanical issues allowing Max Verstappen to finally give Red Bull a win on home turf and doing so in front of thousands and thousands of Dutch fans too.
That’s a look at the past, now let’s look to the future and give you my picks for your fantasy teams this weekend.
Austrian Grand Prix Picks
Top Pick: Mercedes ($32.5m)
No change here as Mercedes remain the only choice to have as your constructor because frankly without them your team is never going to win.
The straights early in the lap may give Ferrari some hope of being close but the superiority of the Mercedes elsewhere should comfortably make up the difference for the Austrian GP line-up.
Medium pick: Daniel Ricciardo ($11m)
No change here either as Ricciardo was unfortunate to lose seventh place in France after a penalty.
His Renault car should be better suited to this circuit too, if the pace in Montreal is anything to go by, and it will be a close fight between themselves and McLaren.
Low pick: Lando Norris ($5.5m)
And it is the British team’s potential to again fight in the top-six that means Lando stays on as my low pick too.
The 19-year-old is $3m cheaper than teammate Carlos Sainz and is more than capable of beating the Spaniard, particularly at a circuit where he has a bit more experience.
Valtteri Bottas ($22.5m)
At this price, Bottas is still a good pick for your fantasy team as he all-but guarantees a podium finish and, combined with Mercedes as the constructor, does still leave a little budget left over for better midfield drivers.
Also, the Red Bull Ring is the type of circuit where the Finn usually excels as he proved in 2017 with victory and started on pole last year.
That means then if Valtteri is going to stop Hamilton’s current four-race winning streak, Austria is a very likely place to do it.
Kevin Magnussen ($9.8m)
While the past two races have been miserable for Haas, the American team does have a very strong record in Austria.
Last year their two cars finished fourth and fifth in Spielberg, Austria and if (being the operative word) they can overcome their recent problems, Magnussen is the driver much more likely to challenge for the top 10.