Max Verstappen, Red Bull, Red Bull Ring, 2020

Mercedes will have one eye on Verstappen as they manage suspension worries

2020 Styrian Grand Prix pre-race analysis

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Changes to the electrical looming on Mercedes’ W11 has made them less concerned their cars could be jeopardised by the fault which threatened to put both cars out during last weekend’s race.

However the team is still not fully certain it has solved the problem, as trackside operations director Andrew Shovlin explained.

Asked how concerned he was about having to manage the same problem in Sunday’s race, Shovlin said: “Compared to last weekend, which was a 10 out of 10. Probably more like a sort of four or five out of 10.

“But we’ve not done enough running on this solution to really know whether there’s there’s going to be an issue during the race. What we know is that we can do a few hundred kilometres okay and there isn’t a problem. But ticking off the race tomorrow be quite a big milestone for us if we can get through that without a problem.”

Lewis Hamilton took pole position in streaming wet conditions yesterday by an astonishing margin of Max Verstappen. But he will be a clear threat to Mercedes from the start of the race, and team principal Toto Wolff admitted that will play a role in deciding how hard the team lets its driver ride the Red Bull Ring’s kerbs.

“There will be laps where you have no chance of not using them,” he said. “I think wherever Max is, leading or behind us, just cruising around neatly avoiding the kerbs is not going to be possible.

“Constantly massacring the suspension, that is something that would cause us a headache. So once we have settled in our positions, then we will be trying to avoid the kerbs. It’s a very Austria-specific topic.”

But it isn’t just Mercedes who have reliability concerns to worry about. Almost every team suffered some kind of problem during last week’s race. Including, of course, Verstappen, who can ill-afford another zero at Red Bull’s home track.

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For the second race in a row, he will start on the front row alongside one of the Mercedes. Last week the team picked a different strategy to Mercedes, starting on the medium instead of soft tyres, and he was just beginning to match leader Valtteri Bottas’s times when his car failed 10 laps in.

Charles Leclerc, Ferrari, Red Bull Ring, 2020
Leclerc has an “aggressive” set-up
Thanks to yesterday’s rain, today we have the fascinating prospect of all 20 drivers being able to choose whatever tyres they like for the race. Hopefully this produces a great variety of choices among the top 10. However the specific circumstances of this weekend’s race conditions, with heavy rain yesterday leaving very green track conditions on Sunday, may mean they all converge on similar choices anyway.

The rain has produced a very different grid to the one we might have expected in dry conditions. The Racing Point drivers, third and fourth on Friday, will line up outside the top 10. George Russell’s Williams has scaled the rare heights of 11th.

Further back, Charles Leclerc’s penalty means the Ferrari driver has a lot of progress to make for 14th. His remarks yesterday indicated he trimmed his downforce levels despite the downpour, in the hope of being quicker in today’s race. The speed trap figures indicate that may well be the case – the other five Ferrari-powered cars are rooted to the bottom of the times, Leclerc 11th.

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Sector times

DriverSector 1Sector 2Sector 3
Lewis Hamilton18.935 (1)34.573 (1)24.099 (1)
Max Verstappen19.007 (2)34.692 (3)24.164 (2)
Carlos Sainz Jnr19.162 (5)34.654 (2)24.242 (3)
Valtteri Bottas19.097 (3)34.968 (6)24.295 (5)
Esteban Ocon19.322 (10)34.879 (5)24.469 (8)
Alexander Albon19.132 (4)35.054 (8)24.539 (11)
Pierre Gasly19.244 (8)35.017 (7)24.458 (7)
Daniel Ricciardo19.209 (7)35.246 (9)24.478 (9)
Lando Norris19.163 (6)34.760 (4)24.267 (4)
Sebastian Vettel19.405 (13)35.372 (10)24.752 (13)
George Russell19.506 (16)35.416 (12)24.525 (10)
Lance Stroll19.247 (9)35.439 (13)24.797 (14)
Daniil Kvyat19.337 (11)35.401 (11)24.397 (6)
Charles Leclerc19.350 (12)35.450 (14)24.677 (12)
Kevin Magnussen19.482 (15)35.487 (15)24.862 (15)
Kimi Raikkonen19.524 (17)36.248 (18)25.106 (16)
Sergio Perez19.541 (19)36.291 (19)25.117 (17)
Nicholas Latifi19.538 (18)36.103 (17)25.587 (18)
Antonio Giovinazzi19.469 (14)35.963 (16)25.664 (19)
Romain Grosjean49.014 (20)

Speed trap

PosDriverCarEngineSpeed (kph/mph)Gap
1Valtteri BottasMercedesMercedes297.6 (184.9)
2Sergio PerezRacing PointMercedes295.4 (183.6)-2.2
3Lance StrollRacing PointMercedes295.4 (183.6)-2.2
4Alexander AlbonRed BullHonda295.4 (183.6)-2.2
5George RussellWilliamsMercedes295.2 (183.4)-2.4
6Lewis HamiltonMercedesMercedes295.1 (183.4)-2.5
7Max VerstappenRed BullHonda295.0 (183.3)-2.6
8Daniel RicciardoRenaultRenault293.9 (182.6)-3.7
9Nicholas LatifiWilliamsMercedes293.8 (182.6)-3.8
10Esteban OconRenaultRenault293.5 (182.4)-4.1
11Charles LeclercFerrariFerrari293.3 (182.2)-4.3
12Carlos Sainz JnrMcLarenRenault292.7 (181.9)-4.9
13Daniil KvyatToro RossoHonda292.7 (181.9)-4.9
14Lando NorrisMcLarenRenault292.4 (181.7)-5.2
15Pierre GaslyToro RossoHonda292.1 (181.5)-5.5
16Antonio GiovinazziAlfa RomeoFerrari291.4 (181.1)-6.2
17Kimi RaikkonenAlfa RomeoFerrari291.1 (180.9)-6.5
18Sebastian VettelFerrariFerrari290.9 (180.8)-6.7
19Kevin MagnussenHaasFerrari287.1 (178.4)-10.5
20Romain GrosjeanHaasFerrari228.4 (141.9)-69.2

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Over to you

Can Verstappen stop Hamilton converting pole position into victory? Will Bottas still be leading the championship tonight?

Share your views on the Styrian Grand Prix in the comments.

Quotes: Dieter Rencken

2020 Styrian Grand Prix

Browse all 2020 Styrian Grand Prix articles

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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...
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14 comments on “Mercedes will have one eye on Verstappen as they manage suspension worries”

  1. Poor writing. They’re a lot of mistakes.

      1. Oh, god, the irony

    1. @img343 Is this comment purposefully ironic?

  2. Can Verstappen stop Hamilton converting pole position into victory? – Not on pure pace.
    Will Bottas still be leading the championship tonight? – Yes.

  3. I’ve got a gut feeling that Bottas is going to win this one again today. I think he’ll pass Verstappen at some stage on pure pace, and will luck in to victory due to a safety car and/or mechanical issues.

    1. @sparkyamg Bottas can only win if he is ahead after lap 1. He struggles in race pace, and Hamilton will easily be able to manage the pace to Bottas.

      1. Yeah if Hamilton is ahead at turn 1 he’ll win the race. Bottas just can’t keep up with Hamiltons race pace let alone catch him. As to mechanical issues that could happen to anyone at anytime so a bit of a mute point.

      2. @mashiat yep, hence why I said I think he’ll luck in.

        It’s just a feeling though.

        1. @sparkyamg Perhaps you could be right, but I never have hope for Bottas because he is incapable of running a more conservative strategy as Hamilton did in Silverstone last year for example. I think the only person who might be able to luck in might be Verstappen, as he might benefit from a SC or a VSC by running longer.

  4. Adam (@rocketpanda)
    12th July 2020, 12:46

    I hope that Bottas retains the championship lead and Verstappen wins the race. But I expect Bottas to fail to finish and Hamilton to cruise to an ultra snoozefest victory. I hope this comment ages poorly.

  5. Should be a good race not as crazy as Austria Round 1 but still a good one.

  6. Bottas will overtake Sainz in The first lap. Sainz will than active smooth operator and let the carnage behind him.

    Albon will have a lot of pressure from himself. Perez will go for mediums at the start and will escalate the field easily.

    Russell will drop to 16th unfortunately. There’s nothing he can do.

    Leclerc Will have goosebumps when passing Vettel.

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