The ninth Grand Prix of the year will be held in Austria this weekend. Former Formula 1 driver Michael Bleekemolen answers five questions about the race at the Red Bull Ring in Spielberg.
Max Verstappen keeps good memories of the Red Bull Ring, the circuit where he managed to win with some luck last year. Is a victory possible again this year?
"Although Red Bull was also the weaker party among the top teams last year, things are slightly different this year. Last season, Verstappen had a good-lying car with a lot of grip, but that seems to be no longer the case."
"Red Bull has not made much progress in terms of engine power either. I wonder if Verstappen will finish in the top four on Sunday."
"There is also only a week between this and the previous Grand Prix in France. There is a lot of work going on in the factory, but in terms of improvements and updates there will not be much added this weekend because there simply isn't enough time to improve."
Max Verstappen in Austria
- 2018 - Red Bull: First
- 2017 - Red Bull: Failed
- 2016 - Red Bull: Second
- 2015 - Toro Rosso: Eighth
The Red Bull Ring is a circuit where engine power is very important. That seems to be in favor of Ferrari, that with a high top speed this season is often the fastest on the straight. Is Charles Leclerc or Sebastian Vettel going to hold a Mercedes first place this year for the first time this year?
"I don't think so. Mercedes seems to be doing so well this season that they don't even have to run at maximum. If it is really necessary, I think Hamilton and Bottas can even have extra power Of course, something can always happen due to rain or crashes, but I think Mercedes is also the fastest this weekend. "
"What is also striking is that a Mercedes engine never fails. They seem to have room to try things out, while the competition is already running at maximum. That makes it even more frustrating."
Max Verstappen was the first flagged in Austria last year. (Photo: Pro Shots)
Lewis Hamilton is already more than a Grand Prix winner ahead of Valtteri Bottas in the World Cup standings. Do you see Bottas coming back to Hamilton this season?
"Yes, I think Bottas will be back. He was very strong at the start of this season. It could be that he started with a different tire pressure and then tested things that didn't work out well."
"I don't believe that Bottas has suddenly started to get worse compared to Hamilton. Maybe it will turn out well this weekend, because he has been in pole position here for the last two years."
World Cup position
- 1. Lewis Hamilton (Mercedes) - 187 points
- 2. Valtteri Bottas (Mercedes) - 151 points
- 3. Sebastian Vettel (Ferrari) - 111 points
- 4. Max Verstappen (Red Bull Racing) - 100 points
- 5. Charles Leclerc (Ferrari) - 87 points
- 6. Pierre Gasly (Red Bull Racing) - 37 points
There has been a lot to do in recent times for time penalties in Formula 1. Like many drivers and fans, do you think Formula 1 is over-regulated in its current form and should drivers not be released much more to race?
"Of course, rules are needed, but it is also about how those rules are applied. The FIA applies the rules too tightly and strictly."
"I saw it two weeks ago in France with my son Jeroen, who was disqualified after the 24 Hours of Le Mans after he was the first to finish. It's a problem that transcends Formula 1 and engages the entire motor sport."
GP Austria start times
- First free practice: Friday 11 am
- Second free training: Friday 3 p.m.
- Third free practice: Saturday noon
- Qualification: Saturday 3 p.m.
- Race: Sunday 3.10 pm
Pierre Gasly is quite against this season. In France he was almost put on a lap by teammate Verstappen. How far is the scenario removed that Red Bull will replace it?
"The problem is that there is no direct replacement ready. I also wonder who would want to take that seat, because it is the hardest job possible to ride alongside a potential world champion like Verstappen. It does not seem that there is anyone who will immediately drive as fast as Max in that car. "
"At the same time, Gasly's performance is not something to write home about. Something might happen today or tomorrow, because at Red Bull they are usually ruthless. He will have to improve as quickly as possible."
See also: Ricciardo: "I had it easier than Gasly at Red Bull Racing"