A few days removed from a wild and dramatic British Grand Prix weekend, Formula 1 moves from Silverstone to the Red Bull Ring in the Styrian Mountains for the Austrian Grand Prix. The Red Bull Ring hosted two events during the 2021 season, in which Max Verstappen captured pole position and the race win in both events.
Ferrari will be looking to build momentum from Carlos Sainz’s first Formula 1 win to chip away at Red Bull’s lead in both Championships. Red Bull will be looking for a repeat P2 performance from Sergio Perez, while hoping that Verstappen can avoid chunks of carbon fiber and cruise to a dominant win; a reality hinted at twice during the British Grand Prix. Mercedes will be counting on new technical directives on flexing floors and their recent major upgrade package to close the performance gap between themselves, Ferrari, and Red Bull even further.
New Technical Directives?
Amidst the chaos at Silverstone, the FIA issued a technical directive to teams regarding floor flexibility. The majority of the new era F1 cars generate their downforce from the ground effect aerodynamics under the car. In recent years, the floor of an F1 car has been a prime area for development and finding (or eliminating) performance.
The FIA is concerned that a few teams have found “creative” interpretations of the flexing rules of the floor’s plank, engineering the floor and plank to flex more underneath the driver. This should create a smoother ride and less proposing, two chronic issues from the stiff 2022-era cars. If Red Bull or Ferrari have “creative” interpretations of the sports technical rules and engineered their cars’ floors to flex, this new technical directive might hurt the performance of the two teams at the front of the grid. You can be assured that Mercedes will be waiting to capitalize if Red Bull or Ferrari do take a step back in performance.
The Red Bull Ring
The Red Bull Ring has had two different configurations and a history dating back to 1969. After being purchased and obviously renamed by Red Bull, this circuit has been on the calendar since the beginning of the V6 Turbo-Hybrid era, in 2014. The Red Bull Ring is a short and fast track: one lap is only 10 turns across 2.688 miles (4.318 km) or tarmac, with drivers flat out and at full throttle for 78% of the lap. The Grand Prix itself is among the longest in lap total on the calendar, with drivers completing 71 laps on Sunday. However, there is a 28-lap sprint race on Saturday to set the grid, before the 71 laps on Sunday
The Formula 1 cars from 2020 created the most downforce in the history of the sport. The dominant Mercedes W-11 from 2020 might be the greatest race car ever created. As such, many of the circuit and lap records across the F1 calendar were set by the 2020 cars. Surprisingly, Carlos Sainz holds the in-race lap record of 1:05.609, while Valterri Bottas captured pole position in the W-11 with a blisteringly fast time of 1:02:939. These records are safe (for now) but they highlight how short and fast one lap around the Red Bull Ring can be. Pirelli is bringing the softest tires in their range to Austria, so while lap times will be fast, tire degradation may be a more significant factor than anticipated.
Qualifying Betting Preview
With this being the first sprint weekend of the year, this is the first time in 2022 that qualifying is on a Friday. Unlike Sprint Race weekends in 2021, the person who finishes first in qualifying will be credited as the official pole sitter for the weekend and will start from pole position for the sprint race. The top 8 finishers will score championship points, rather than the 2021 system where only the top 3 finishers earned points.
If you follow this coverage or any F1 coverage during the 2022 season, you know Charles Leclerc is something to behold over a single lap in the Ferrari F1-75. Leclerc should be and is the betting favorite to finish first in qualifying, listed at 5/4 odds, Verstappen is a close second at 6/4. The second Ferrari and Red Bull drivers have the same betting odds to be the fastest qualifier, with Sainz and Perez listed at 9/1.
While the Red Bull Ring might not suit the characteristics of the Mercedes W-13, Lewis Hamilton or George Russel may be the betting pick for the more adventurous betters. Hamilton is listed as high as 18/1 to qualify first, while Russell is listed as high as 22/1.
As for long shots who could park their car on the front row, we have to look at Alpine’s Wiley Ol’ Campaigner Fernando Alonso and McLaren’s Lando Norris. It is highly unlikely that either Alonso or Norris will capture pole position, however, if either did capture pole position betters will be rewarded: Alonso is listed as high as 125/1, while Norris is listed at a staggering 250/1.
Qualifying for the Austrian Grand Prix begins at 11 a.m. EDT on Friday, July 8th at
Sprint Race Preview
The usual suspects are at the top of the betting lines for the Sprint Race on Saturday: Verstappen is listed at 11/8, Leclerc is listed at 5/2, Sainz is listed as high as 9/1, while Perez is listed at 10/1. The Sprint race will undoubtedly mix up the grid on Sunday but look for one of these four drivers to win the Sprint race. Who to pick depends entirely on how qualifying plays out.
If Norris (150/1), Alonso (175/1), Gasly (500/1), or Vettel (1000/1) can crack the top four in qualifying, one of the front-runners will be out of contention to win the sprint race. I’d wait until qualifying finishes before placing a bet on the Sprint race and picking one of the cars in the top 4. The Sprint Race is scheduled in the same position during the weekend schedule normally occupied by qualifying, starting at 10:30 a.m. EDT on Saturday, July 9th.
Austrian Grand Prix Betting Preview
Defending world champion Verstappen should be the favorite going into each Grand Prix until another constructor can challenge the RB-18 on race pace. Verstappen is the rightful betting favorite for the Austrian Grand Prix on Sunday, listed as high as 11/8. Leclerc is right behind him at 11/4, while Perez and Sainz are both listed at 11/1. Lights out for the Austrian Grand Prix is at 9 a.m. EDT on Sunday, July 10th.
The Mercedes duo might not make it to the podium this weekend, but at least one of them is likely in the top 6. Had he made it around the Abbey (Turn 1) at Silverstone, Russel likely finishes the race in the top 5. Russell’s consistent top 6 finishes have him listed as high as 4/11 for a top 6 finish. Teammate Hamilton is listed at 1/3 to finish in the top 6.
Here are our picks for the 2022 Austrian Grand Prix Weekend:
Fastest Qualifier: Sergio Perez (9/1)
Sprint Race Winner: Max Verstappen (11/8)
Austrian Grand Prix Top 6 (with the driver’s betting odds for finishing in the top 6):
P1 – Max Verstappen (2/9)
P2 – Charles Leclerc (1/4)
P3 – Lewis Hamilton (1/3)
P4 -George Russel (4/11)
P5 – Sergio Perez (2/7)
P6- Fernando Alonso (28/17)
The Austrian Grand Prix takes place from July 8th-10th, 2022.