Formula 1 Austrian Grand Prix at Red Bull Ring 2020 – Predictions & Odds
- Mad Max Verstappen goes for the triple at his own personal Thunderdome.
- Will the new all-black Mercedes livery change Lewis Hamilton’s rotten luck at Red Bull Ring?
- Charles Leclerc, last season’s pole winner at Austria, looks to make his mark as Ferrari’s No. 1 driver.
The COVID-19 pandemic has played havoc with the 2020 F1 schedule, which originally featured a record 22 races on its calendar, with the opening Australian Grand Prix on March 15. Because of the pandemic, the first race of the season, the Austrian Grand Prix, will take place on July 5, with free practice on July 3 and qualifying on July 4.
In fact, the first two races of the season are slated for the Red Bull Ring in Spielberg, Styria, Austria, with the Steiermark Grand Prix following on the July 10-12 weekend. Thus far, the F1 calendar includes only eight races, all to be contested in Europe. Further additions to the schedule are still to be determined.
In its current incarnation, the Austrian Grand Prix has been contested for six years, after a 10-year hiatus from 2004 through 2013. Mercedes won the first four races after the return. Red Bull’s Max Verstappen has won the last two.
|What||Austrian Grand Prix F1 race|
|Where||Red Bull Ring|
|When||Sunday, July 5, 9:05 a.m. EST|
|How to watch||Watch on ESPN here!|
F1 at Red Bull Ring (Austria) July 5 Odds
|Carlos Sainz Jr.||+10000|
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After Last Year’s Amazing Drive, Max Verstappen Goes for Third Win
If Max Verstappen didn’t already have the reputation as a hard charger, he certainly secured it in last year’s Austrian Grand Prix, where Verstappen passed pole winner Charles Leclerc with less than three laps left to secure his second straight win in the race.
Dropping from second to eighth after the start because of a problem with his anti-stall function, Verstappen charged forward in his Red Bull car, eventually passing Sebastian Vettel for third on Lap 50 of 71 and Valtteri Bottas for second on Lap 56. With an aggressive move that later would be reviewed and deemed legal by the stewards, Verstappen powered past Leclerc in Turn 2, making contact, to take the lead for good on Lap 69.
Verstappen (+175) was third fastest in last year’s qualifying, but he has an excellent feel for the track revived by his Austrian team owner, Dietrich Mateschitz. Look for the 22-year-old Dutchman to be a major factor in Sunday’s race.
Can Lewis Hamilton Reverse His Recent Rotten Luck in Austria?
Sporting a new all-black livery on his Mercedes this year, decrying racism and supporting F1’s pro-diversity initiatives, Lewis Hamilton opens the 2020 F1 season at a track that has treated him poorly in the last three races at Red Bull Ring.
Yes, Hamilton won the Austrian Grand Prix in 2016, but in the 2017 race, he suffered a five-position grid penalty for a gearbox change and finished third. In 2018, he failed to finish the race because of a fuel-pressure problem, joining teammate Valtteri Bottas (gearbox failure) in the garage for Mercedes’ third double retirement since 2010.
Last year, Hamilton’s tendency to run wide over the curbing in the Niki Lauda Curve (Turn 1) led to front-wing damage and an unscheduled pit stop for repairs. He finished fifth, failing to make the podium for the first time in nine races. This year, however, the Austrian Grand Prix is race No. 1, and Mercedes inviably starts fast. Last year, Hamilton (+200) and Bottas (+500) finished 1-2 in the first five races of the season, with Hamilton winning three.
Charles Leclerc Hopes to Make His Mark as Top Ferrari Driver
With four-time champion Sebastian Vettel departing the Ferrari team at the end of the season, the Scuderia looks to 22-year-old Monaco-born Charles Leclerc to do the heavy lifting this year. Indeed, Leclerc already had established himself as the top driver in the stable by the midpoint of last season, repeatedly eclipsing Vettel’s performances.
Leclerc won the pole for last year’s Austrian Grand Prix with an impressive track-record run in 1:03:003, beating Hamilton for the top spot on the grid by .259 seconds. And Leclerc (+525) held the lead in the race until Verstappen overtook him with an aggressive move on Lap 69.
Here’s a word of caution, though: Ferrari was not happy with its preseason test session, where the red cars from Maranello did not appear to have the pace of primary rivals Mercedes and Red Bull. As has been widely reported in F1 circles, Ferrari bosses don’t expect substantive improvements to the aerodynamics be incorporated until the third race of the season in Hungary.
Max Verstappen (+350)—Based on last year’s run from eighth to first after Lap 1 issues, Mad Max has to be the pick for the F1 opener.
Award-winning motorsports writer Reid Spencer has served as lead writer for the NASCAR Wire Service for 16 years, having also spent a four-year stint as NASCAR columnist and beat writer for Sporting News. He is currently serving as president of the National Motorsports Press Association.