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Hamilton and Verstappen look to bounce back at Styrian Grand Prix

09/07/20

The return of Formula 1® exceeded all expectations in Austria.

The return of Formula 1® exceeded expectations with a dramatic season-opener at the Austrian Grand Prix.

Valtteri Bottas made an early statement in his pursuit of a first world title, with defending champion Lewis Hamilton receiving penalties in qualifying and the race, ultimately having to settle for fourth.

Disruption to the 2020 season caused by the coronavirus pandemic means a second consecutive race is being held at the Red Bull Ring. Round two is called the Styrian Grand Prix after the state the circuit is located because all races in a season must have a different name.

If the race in Spielberg, which starts at 15:10 local time (11:10pm AEST) on Sunday, produces as much excitement as the last, there will be few complaints from fans.

LAST TIME OUT

Nine drivers retired as Bottas took victory from Charles Leclerc and Lando Norris, who earned a superb podium as well as setting the fastest lap.

After a mechanical issue for Max Verstappen, Red Bull's victory hopes were revived late on when a correct strategy call after a safety car looked to have Alex Albon poised for a first win.

But he was hit by Hamilton as he overtook the Mercedes driver and ultimately retired, with the Briton receiving a five-second time penalty, having also been landed with a three-place grid punishment for his speed under yellow flags in qualifying.



WHAT TO LOOK OUT FOR

Hamilton was disappointed with his qualifying result even before his grid penalty and a scrappy conclusion to the race will mean he comes into the second grand prix eager to stop his rivals building up any momentum in a shortened season.

Second place for Leclerc in a tumultuous race masked serious pace issues for Ferrari, who saw Sebastian Vettel have to settle for 10th a day after failing to reach Q3 as he started his final season with the team.

The Scuderia estimate they are 0.8 seconds off the pace in straight-line speed and while that issue remains, they hope their aerodynamic package will be improved this week after fast-tracking some major upgrades that were initially due for Hungary.

Verstappen saw what looked like a certain podium taken away from him and will be desperate to bounce back at a circuit where he won last year, while any battles between Albon and Hamilton will be closely watched, as they also made contact in Brazil at the end of last season.



TOP FIVE STATS

History is made - The Red Bull Ring, where Hamilton has not won since 2016, will become the first circuit in F1® history to host back-to-back grands prix.

Three in their sights - Bottas (2017 and 2020) and Verstappen (2018 and 2019) are both looking to become the first driver to win three races at the Red Bull Ring. Both have won twice there, level with Mika Hakkinen, Michael Schumacher and Nico Rosberg.

Big moment for Bottas – The Finn could win the opening two grands prix in a season for the first time in his F1® career. Eleven of the last 12 drivers to manage this went on to become world champion that season; Vettel was the only driver in that run not to (2018 season).

Ferrari woe - This is the circuit where Ferrari are enduring their longest winless run among the six tracks in the current F1® calendar. Schumacher was the last winner here for the Scudería in 2003.

McLaren pushing on - After Norris' third-place finish, McLaren are looking to record back-to-back podium finishes for the first time since the last two grands prix of 2012 when Hamilton won in USA and Jenson Button won in Brazil.

CHAMPIONSHIP STANDINGS
Drivers
  1. Valtteri Bottas (Mercedes) – 25
  2. Charles Leclerc (Ferrari) – 18
  3. Lando Norris (McLaren) – 16
  4. Lewis Hamilton (Mercedes) – 12
  5. Carlos Sainz (McLaren) – 10
Constructors
  1. Mercedes – 37
  2. McLaren – 26
  3. Ferrari – 19
  4. Racing Point – 8
  5. Alpha Tauri - 6