Spielberg (dpa) - Formula 1 starts its 71st season on Sunday (3.10 p.m.) with a ghost race in Austria four months later than planned.

In emergency operation with a strict hygiene concept, the racing series still wants to save its World Cup year. For the first time in history, Styria is hosting the start. Once again the Mercedes drivers are favorites, it could be bitter for Ferrari and Sebastian Vettel.

BLACK POWER: As a signal for more diversity and against discrimination, the silver arrow is painted black this year. Even after the first laps in Spielberg, the competition looks black. «I am surprised by the distance to the other teams. The strength of this team is impressive, »said Valtteri Bottas after his trip to pole position on Saturday. The Finn and world champion Lewis Hamilton were almost half a second faster than the third Max Verstappen. These are worlds on the short circuit in Austria. "This team shows every year what it is capable of and we always set new standards," said Hamilton.

ZERO ORANGE: At other times, the Red Bull Ring was firmly in Dutch hands. The “Orange Army” party in the stands, Max Verstappen raced to victory in 2018 and 2019. This time the 22-year-old has to get by without his party-loving fans. Verstappen hopes for the strategy, starts with harder tires than the Mercedes duo in front of him. "It will get warmer, which should be an advantage for us," said the Red Bull young star.

RED NOT: It's hard times for Sebastian Vettel and Ferrari. The relationship comes to an end and the hope of a successful farewell tour of the Hesse drops. As eleventh in qualification, the chances of a top spot for the 33-year-old are pretty slim. "Our car wasn't fast enough, the balance wasn't ideal," complained Vettel. Remarkable: All six cars in the field with Ferrari engines were significantly slower than last year. That doesn't take much courage, even if Vettel's company car will be overhauled in Hungary in two weeks. After all, the Hesse has free choice of tires in Spielberg and could make up for space using tactics.

COLORFUL SIGNALS: Before the start, the drivers want to campaign for more diversity and against racism. All 20 pilots will probably wear t-shirts with the message "End racism". Everyone has the opportunity to make their own mark. It is still unclear whether all drivers really show the knee as many athletes around the world have done before. «I don't know what we'll see. Probably people who show their own respect in their own way, »said Lewis Hamilton, who had made repeated statements during the Corona break with political statements.

© dpa-infocom, dpa: 200704-99-674692 / 2

Information about the racetrack

Information from the world association for Formula 1

Information from the route operator

Information from the World Association Fia on Corona measures

Information about Corona restrictions in Formula 1