Start, Red Bull Ring, 2020

Same track, same result? Six Styrian GP talking points

2020 Styrian Grand Prix

Posted on

| Written by

The Formula 1 circus has stayed put in Austria for the Styrian Grand Prix this weekend in an effort to fit as many races as possible into its condensed 2020 schedule.

Following an action-packed opening race of the season, F1 will find out if holding back to back races at the same venue will have an effect on the racing. Meanwhile there has been another major move on the driver market with repercussions for the rest of the field.

Red Bull Ring repeat?

For the first time in F1 history, the series will visit the same circuit twice in one season, and just one week after its previous round. The Red Bull Ring has produced some exciting races, as the last two encounters demonstrated. But will it still do so when the teams arrive armed with a full race weekend’s-worth of data?

The weather may also play a decisive role. Considerably lower race day temperatures are expected, plus a chance of rain during qualifying.

Ferrari need in a fix

Charles Leclerc, Sergio Perez, Red Bull Ring, 2020
Leclerc’s second place flattered Ferrari
Ferrari made it clear ahead of the race weekend they expected a tough season. But few expected to see Sebastian Vettel eliminated before the final stage of qualifying on pure pace alone.

The team has confirmed that an upgrade package which was originally set for Hungary has been brought forward. However it remains to be seen whether it will have enough parts for both cars, and which driver will get them if that turns out to be the case.

The SF-1000 has many areas for improvement, according to Binotto. However as engine development is restricted this season Ferrari’s straight-line speed deficit, which team principal Mattia Binotto estimated at seven-tenths of a second on the straights, is unlikely to be completely cured. An awful lot is therefore riding on their aerodynamic development, in particularly reducing the drag which the team highlights as a key cause of its woes.

Advert | Become a RaceFans supporter and go ad-free

More reliability trouble?

Max Verstappen, Red Bull, Red Bull Ring, 2020
Honda trouble eliminated Verstappen
Nine cars failed to finish on Sunday, early season reliability problems aggravated by warm temperatures, high altitude and the severe kerbs. The teams have had a few days to make adjustments to their car and better prepare for the Styrian Grand Prix but time is a serious limiting factor in this new, compressed calendar.

Mercedes faced reliability fears for the majority of the race as their gearbox was in critical condition due to the track’s kerbs. Mercedes motorsport strategy director, James Vowles, explained how the team plan to deal with the kerbs this weekend.

“We have a number of people back at the factory working day and night for this,” Vowels said. “In fact, they were working in parallel to the grand prix, whilst the grand prix was taking place, they were already doing their utmost to try and understand what the problems were to get ahead of the issue before we get into this week.

“We know that if we don’t get on top of these issues it will be a problem again in just a few days’ time. And the reality behind it is that it is a problem that could have cost one or both cars the opportunity to finish the race on Sunday.”

Quiet Friday?

Robert Kubica, Alfa Romeo, Red Bull Ring, 2020
Kubica will be back at the wheel
How much running will we see teams conduct on Friday? They already have plenty of data on the circuit, and tomorrow is expected to be around 10C hotter than race day, meaning it won’t be very representative of competitive conditions.

However several teams have reliability problems to address and, in Ferrari’s case, performance items to evaluate. The long straights of the Red Bull Ring are far more useful for aerodynamic work than the twisty Hungaroring.

Other teams will take the chance to put test drivers in their cars. Robert Kubica will be back in the Alfa Romeo he drove during pre-season testing. He heaped praise on the car in February, but last weekend’s times indicated that by joining the team from Williams he’s swapped the slowest car in F1 for… the slowest car in F1.

Meanwhile at Williams, former Renault junior driver Jack Aitken will make his planned first practice outing, taking over George Russell’s car before getting on with his Formula 2 programme.

What does the future hold for Vettel?

Sebastian Vettel, Ferrari, Red Bull Ring, 2020
Vettel had a poor start to the season
Yesterday’s announcement that Fernando Alonso will return to Formula 1 with Renault next year closed off another potential destination for Sebastian Vettel. The Ferrari driver, who had a poor first weekend back, is now looking decidedly short of options for next year.

One thing is certain at this point: The return of Alonso will mean someone on the grid this year will be without a drive next season.

Can Bottas double up?

The balance of power between the Mercedes drivers swung during the weekend. Lewis Hamilton was consistently quickest throughout practice, but pole position slipped through his fingers, and from there the win got away from him.

Hamilton should have the pace to hit back this weekend, but Bottas returns to one of his stronger circuits having led every lap last time out, and looking to extend his early championship lead.

Advert | Become a RaceFans supporter and go ad-free

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

And don’t forget to enter your predictions for this weekend’s race to have a chance of winning F1 2020: Michael Schumacher edition. You can edit your predictions until the start of qualifying:

2020 Styrian Grand Prix

Browse all 2020 Styrian Grand Prix articles

Author information

Josh Holland
USA-based Josh joined the RaceFans team in 2018. Josh helps produce our Formula 1 race weekend coverage, assists with our social media activities and...

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

23 comments on “Same track, same result? Six Styrian GP talking points”

  1. Apparently (according to AMuS) Red Bull had an aero issue which cost them 0.3, which they hope to have fixed by this weekend. Would make things more interesting, for sure.

  2. Given the number of DNF’s last weekend, I wouldn’t think for a minute we’d see the same result this weekend. Teams are far too switched on to not have gotten a handle on the issues they had Sunday.

    I’d expect Hamilton to come out ultra focused too – that probably won’t be good for Bottas.

    1. Basically came here to say this, there’s no way the result will be the same.

      As much as I like the young British talents, I can’t see them fighting for wins or podiums in a straight fight. On race pace, Ham seemed to have the edge over Bot, admittedly the problems were seen on car 77 first.

      I enjoy last weeks race, but would like to see more cars finish this time around.

    2. Interesting fact, if Bottas wins and Hamilton DNFs, assuming no more races are added to the calender. It’ll likely mean a championship decider at the last race or Bottas WDC (assuming Bottas comes 2nd and Hamilton 1st in all the remaining races, Hamilton will be up by 3 points for the final race not considering fastest lap points). An unlikely event in itself unless Hamilton does DNF (most likely through reliability, which would make it less likely for 5 straight Merc 1-2s), but it’d make the season interesting. No hate towards Hamilton, but for this reason I’m hoping he DNFs at the Styrian GP.

  3. Is it really Styrian GP tho? Twitter F1 called it Round 2 Austrian GP.

    1. In no way having a go at you @ruliemaulana but Twitter can call it whatever they want as far as I’m concerned.
      Twitter is an awesome concept that has been totally overwhelmed by dimwits and scum in my opinion.

      It’s the Styrian GP for me mate ;)

    2. @f1mre @nullapax
      I just found out there’s an official hashtag and rule out Merc protest to Racing Point link

  4. Mercedes will disappear in the distance Sunday morning, opening a 10sec Gap and controlling the race from there. RBR will close the gap a little, by running Honda’s engine harder. Behind that it will be a fierce battle. That of course may be twisted and turned if the SC comes out. And more likely it will.

    But this is main event only. In the background there will be the Alonso story and Abiteboul bragging about it, Vettel’s sabbatical/retirement and everyone suddenly realising that McLaren will have the strongest pairing in 2021, with a very good chassis and a Mercedes engine!

    Crystal ball out!

    1. @Only Facts! I hope, at the very least, that the SC wouldn’t come out as easily as it did last time out. VSC would’ve (or should’ve) been enough for at least two of the three incidents. George Russel’s case most definitely didn’t require full-SC as his car wasn’t even next to the racing line. VSC makes races easier to continue on the fly, and shorter in overall time, so that should be the priority for smaller stuff. Otherwise, what would be the point of having the VSC-system in place?

      1. Agreed!

  5. Pirelli could have change compounds for this weekend like they will do at UK.

    1. @jlb Yes, they could’ve chosen the same compound-trio, but I assume they wanted to play it safe for the Red Bull Ring-events as it’s, after all, the first time for having two races on the same circuit in a single season.

    2. They said on Sky last weekend that Pirelli weren’t able to take additional compounds to Austria as they didn’t have time to manufacturer & send out all the sets they would have needed to supply everyone.

      Don’t forget that F1 was initially focused solely on reverse grid qualifying races for the 2nd weekend & so little/no thought was put into doing anything else. When the reverse grid idea was (Thankfully) dropped it was too late for Pirelli to change what they were doing for the 2 Austria weekends.

      They will take different compounds to the 2 weekends at Silverstone & where it’s safe to do so (The tyre loading seem at some circuits dictate what compounds they are safely able to use) will likely do the same for any other double headers at the same venue we may get later in the year.

  6. It is an interesting question and I’m sure the F1 haters who say that F1 is just a follow the leader borefest would love for it to be a carbon copy of last weekend so as to prove them right.
    I totally agree with @dbradock above though and I am certain that this weekend will be a different story.

    I’m expecting Lewis, Max and Alex to be especially keen to prove a point.

    What I would really love though would be for there to be only qualifying and then the race this weekend as no one should need any-more practice sessions after running a full weekend here just a few days ago?

  7. Adam (@rocketpanda)
    9th July 2020, 12:31

    To be honest I expect both Mercedes to qualify comfortably on pole and win so dominantly they’ll have lapped everyone up to 7th place. The order of which is 1st or 2nd is deeply uninteresting but I expect Hamilton this time.

    There will be a gap to the Red Bulls, and then a gap to everyone else. And given the reliability problems and issues in the last race I figure most of the teams will be conservative in their approach so I think it’ll be a considerably quieter and quite processional race.

  8. The team has confirmed that an upgrade package which was originally set for Hungary has been brought forward. However it remains to be seen whether it will have enough parts for both cars, and which driver will get them if that turns out to be the case.

    I think it’s obvious who will get the parts if there aren’t enough for both :)

  9. Qualiflier will be the same but the race depends on rellability if no fixed expect almost the same players!

    1. @macleod Not even qualifying. Some drivers will definitely qualify in a different position compared to last weekend.

      1. I have a feeling it will be the same top 6 But depends on maybe the rain. So Bottas on pole Lewis next then Max then Lando, Albon en Perez.

  10. Red Bull Ring repeat? – Same track, but the outcome won’t, of course, be entirely identical as every race is always different one way or another.
    More reliability trouble? – I doubt it. I’d be even more surprised towards a high-ish number of reliability-related DNFs for race 2 of this circuit than I was for race 1.
    Quiet Friday? – No.
    What does the future hold for Vettel? – As far as F1’s concerned: Alfa Romeo, Haas, Williams, or nothing.
    Can Bottas double up? – A possibility.

  11. Hamilton has never beaten Bottas as a team-mate in Austria so I don’t see that changing.

    Verstappen will be closer, possibly splitting the Mercedes on strategy or something.

    No points for Vettel.

  12. I’m pretty excited for this weekend. Have the teams fixed the reliability issues or even can they be fixed? Or will some of them have to do some crude ad hoc fixes (Haas?) that make the cars go slower?

    In terms of racing, it is also interesting to see if teams and drivers have learned from previous weekend. For example, what would be the best way to defend against attack in T3 or T4, how much of a gap do you need to be able to pass, and so on.

Comments are closed.