All friends again? Five Austrian GP talking points

2017 Austrian Grand Prix

Posted on

| Written by

Sebastian Vettel and Lewis Hamilton will inevitably dominate the headlines but there’s much more to talk about at this weekend’s Austrian Grand Prix.

The title fight enters a new phase

The clash between the championship contenders in Azerbaijan has injected real venom into the title contest. It’s probably inevitable this was going to happen eventually.

Of course that doesn’t make a repeat this weekend any more likely. But the pair will be under especially fierce scrutiny. And Vettel, of course, is within striking distance of collecting a race ban if he steps out of line again.

Mercedes were extremely strong in Baku and a key question this weekend will be how much of their advantage was circuit-specific and how much of it was down to them making progress with the car. Have they solved the set-up problems which plagued the W08 early in the season?

In Baku Ferrari found themselves out-gunned by Mercedes in terms of sheer power, prompting some to conclude the FIA’s clamp down on teams burning engine oil as fuel was targeted at them.

Will Red Bull finally succeed at home?

Verstappen got on the podium last year
Aside from Max Verstappen’s second place last year, the Red Bull Ring hasn’t been a particularly happy hunting ground for its owner’s team. But they arrive at this weekend’s race off the back of a surprse win in Azerbaijan.

The RB13 is unlikely to be in contention for victory without more of the same strange circumstances we saw at the last race. But the team made clear progress last time out and were a threat to Ferrari in qualifying.

The car’s combination of efficient downforce should serve it better at this track than it has done before. A return to the podium could be on the cards.

Will Stroll sustain his momentum?

Were you a Stroll sceptic? I certainly have been, but his superb run to third place in Azerbaijan unquestionably demonstrated the best we have seen from him so far.

Can he build on that this weekend? This is one of few tracks so far Stroll has prior experience of. He won twice at the Red Bull Ring last year.

If he can out-qualify his team mate again and take a solid points finish in a ‘normal’ race it will be more food for thought for doubters like me.

Can Force India impose order on their drivers?

The Force India pit wall has been a tense place at the last two race weekends. First Sergio Perez and Esteban Ocon clashed over team orders in Canada. Then they clashed quite literally in Azerbaijan, which potentially cost the team a double podium finish.

Points are precious in the midfield and they can’t afford to squander any more of them. A frank talking-to will have been adminsitered, but will they heed their latest warning?

Will the crowd continue to fall?

Some grandstands were empty last year
A large crowd welcome Formula One back to Austria when the race was revived in 2014. Since then the drop in attendance has been steep – weekend crowd figures fell by more than 29% year-on-year in 2016.

The Red Bull Ring is far from the only circuit to have this problem. But it begs the question how long the owners will be willing to keep the race on the calendar.

It also casts doubts on their plans for the future of the track. A new chicane has already been built beyond turn one, indicating plans are in motion to extend the circuit, most likely by using the old stretch of track to the east.

But is it being built in the hope F1 attendances will improve, or as a means of creating new interest in the race? The promoters are keeping this to themselves for now.

Are you going to the Austrian Grand Prix?

If you’re heading to Austria for this weekend’s race, we want to hear from you:

Who do you think will be the team to beat in the Austrian Grand Prix? Have your say below.

And don’t forget to enter your predictions for this weekend’s race. You can edit your predictions until the start of qualifying:

2017 Austrian Grand Prix

Browse all 2017 Austrian Grand Prix articles

Author information

Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

Got a potential story, tip or enquiry? Find out more about RaceFans and contact us here.

32 comments on “All friends again? Five Austrian GP talking points”

  1. I went to the Austrian GP last year, and for anyone looking to go next year perhaps, I couldn’t recommend the place more. I stayed in Vienna, so the downside was the drive to the track was about an hour. On the plus side, you got see plenty of the beautiful countryside in Speilberg which was actually breathtaking. The weather was lovely on the Friday and Saturday, and I loved drinking an ice cold beer on a sunny day, with snow capped mountains in the distance. Truly breathtaking.

    As for the actual circuit and race – it has been one my of my top 3 circuits since in the late 90s/early 2000’s. I loved the fact that the track is so different to everywhere else. The fact that the circuit is short means the cars come around more often. Big viewing screens opposite the main grand stands mean you can follow the action around the circuit. And of course there was so much drama in the race. Towards the end, you could visibly see Hamilton get closer and closer to Rosberg. There was the Vettel puncture at high speed (which almost made me cry), the Kvyat crash at the final corner. For some reason, more often than not this circuit also throws up drama on race day, and always has (remember ’98 when Schumi had to pit for a new front wing, and then charged all the way back up to 3rd? Or ’99 where the McLaren’s tangled and this time it was Mika’s turn to blitz the field?). After what happened in Baku, I’m sure there’s gonna be drama this year too. If you’re planning on a cheeky European trip next year, I’d highly recommend this track.

    1. Sounds amazing. I didn’t realize it was so close to Vienna, which is an incredible place to visit. A wienerschnitzel, a sachertorte, and a GP sounds like a perfect day! Let me start drafting arguments for the wife for the expense.

    2. Thanks for the summary, as I am considering visiting next year. Is there a particular grandstand that you recommend?

      1. I went for the main grandstands, which were the most expensive, but definitely won’t leave you disappointed. I was luckily right opposite the Ferrari pits, so I got a good view of the pit lane, and the first and last corners. The big screen means you won’t miss the action elsewhere around the circuit too.
        I believe the ticket also lets you wander around to all the general admission seating around the circuit, which I made full use of when watching the Porsche Super cup race, and then the GP2/3 practice sessions, quali and race). When quali/ the race was about to start, I grabbed a beer and a pretzel, and made my way back to my seat :]

  2. Plus the search for new Sauber team principal.

    1. @zimkazimka Indeed: “Her successor will be announced shortly” they said 15 days ago…

      1. @keithcollantine @zimkazimka What will we find out first – Sauber’s new team principal or McLaren’s new title sponsor replacement for Vodafone…

        1. @cduk_mugello damn, beat me to it

      2. Dennis did just sell out at McLaren.

  3. “The clash between the championship contenders in Azerbaijan has injected real venom into the title contest.”, mostly from the press and the fans. Saying there is “venom” between Vettel and Hamilton is simply stirring the coals. Can we get back to what is really important?

    1. I don’t think it’s unrealistic in the slightest to state that the last race marked a transition into a less friendly championship contest, which is all that phrase implies.

      Can we stop picking at tiny bits of colourful language now and get back to what is really important?

      1. Let’s wait for NASACAR-style bench-clearing post-race brawls before passing this judgement. Perhaps we will see Arrivabene stamp out his cigarette and charge Toto Wolff like a raging bull, a pack of obese crewmen rushing behind him into the fray, with running battles between the hospitality trailers sending tables full of canapes and prosecco crashing to the floor. One can dream.

      2. “Less friendly championship” ?! Was anyone under the impression this was gonna be “friendly” throughout?
        It may be friendly in the padlock but not once the race starts.

  4. Were you a Stroll sceptic? I certainly have been, but his superb run to third place in Azerbaijan unquestionably demonstrated the best we have seen from him so far.

    Apart from the naked result, I really, really struggle to see the superb in Stroll’s race. He finally outqualified Massa and avoided making any significant mistakes in the race to capitalise on the opportunity that was handed to him by a completely wacky race. But I think that’s meaningless. Without the misfortunes of Hamilton, Räikkönen, Pérez, Ocon, Verstappen, and Massa, as well as Vettel going ballistic, where would he have finished? At the fringe of the top 10, probably.

    Results ≠ performance

    This is somewhat less true for F1 than for most other forms of racing, but the Azerbaijan GP was definitely the odd one out, where the race was hardly more meaningful than a die roll.

    1. While I do understand the sentiment of what you are saying, the fact is that based on your theme, virtually all races carry someone benefitting from circumstances and/or the misfortune of others. But the results stand in the record books.

      Stroll did luck in, as did DR, but Stroll was also one of the few who didn’t put a foot wrong when almost everyone else was going off in the practice sessions. Before Sunday LS had already shown he seemed to be getting more of a handle on things, in what appeared to be very tricky conditions, and he outqualified FM for the first time. This coming off a good performance…his first points in Canada. So it does seem like he is making the progress in terms of his car driving and his racing that he said would come with some patience. I don’t think anyone thinks he is now going to podium regularly. But he was there when it counted as have countless drivers been come the ends of races.

    2. @nase But, by the same logic, neither Ricciardo nor Bottas had ‘superb’ races either, despite being net benefactors of the failures and troubles of others. That’s just sport.

    3. The point is that Stroll didn’t make any mistakes during a manic race on a tricky track on a day when many higher rated drivers did. It was a superb drive and he deserves his plaudits.

      I’ve been hard on Stroll too, it is only fair to praise the boy when he puts in a good performance. The challenge for him is that he now needs to build on that and get stronger.

      1. I was impressed by Stroll’s pace relative to Massa. The fact that he kept out of trouble all weekend was doubly impressive for his age. I expect to see this type of performance again.

    4. I agree. I don’t debate his podium in Baku, but his drive doesn’t show anything special yet. Luck is undeniable part of the sport, but that doesn’t mean one highly lucky circumstances suddenly make a driver great (and vice versa). So I consider myself still a Stroll sceptic.

  5. Andrew Purkis
    6th July 2017, 13:13

    make the tickets cheaper

    its not hard

    1. the Tickets for general admission, if you go there tomorrow and buy a weekend ticket, are 75 Euro, if I am not mistaken, cheaper when bought well in advance. We pay more for our week of holiday in a hotel in the area.

  6. Another key talking point: Will RedBull wear Lederhosen again??

    1. deMercer (@)
      6th July 2017, 17:26


  7. I’m not a psychoanalyst, but I’ll play one here for a moment. One of Vettel’s strongest traits is his passion. One of Vettel’s worst traits is his passion. He is always on the edge of another meltdown in any given moment. Having said that one of his more likable traits is that he does not seem to hold serious grudges for too long. The anger that is uncontrollable in the moment seems to mostly dissipate the further away from the actual episode he moves. I think he will get along fine and remain calm, for now. We can only await the next test of his rage potential to see if maybe he has truly gained control of his own faculties.

  8. Regarding the young Lance Stroll, it will be interesting to see how he progresses in each race. More interesting to see how his fans and detractors respond to each race result. Seems there is a strong fan faction that with each positive race result they declare him to be a future WDC champion. On the other hand an equally string faction of detractors who insist he should return to karting for the next 10 years with each crash-out or poor race result.

    Personally, I’m not a huge fan of his, but I always like to see young racers do well and develop their skills and racecraft whenever possible.

    1. not *string*, strong

  9. Sebastian Vettel does not have enough social media followers to be friends with Lewis Hamilton.

    1. Hahahaha

  10. All the comments on stroll really prove the f1 idiom that your reputation is only as good as your last race. Let’s face it what is being held as a great success is coming third in a race of attrition after being slower than your (fairly slow now, sorry massa) teammate during the race again. He’s going to need to do a lot more to convince me he’s worth a place in an f1 car.

Comments are closed.