Lewis Hamilton (pictured) is odds-on with the bookies to extend his 17-point lead at the top of the Formula One Drivers’ Championship by taking victory at this weekend’s Austrian Grand Prix (Race: Sunday, 13:00 BST, live on Sky Sports F1).
Hamilton ended his team-mate Nico Rosberg’s two-race winning streak with a comfortable victory from pole position in Canada last time out. Rosberg came home second to continue Mercedes’ run of double-podium finishes in all seven of the races to date.
Valtteri Bottas secured his best result of the season by coming home third for Williams, ahead of the Ferrari of his Finnish compatriot Kimi Raikkonen. Their respective team-mates Sebastian Vettel (Ferrari) and Felipe Massa (Williams) both suffered engine problems in qualifying but recovered to make their way through the field to finish fifth and sixth.
Lotus secured their first double-points finish of the year, with Pastor Maldonado and Romain Grosjean coming in seventh and 10th respectively. They were split by Nico Hulkenberg’s Force India and the Red Bull of Daniil Kyvat, who finished ahead of his team-mate Daniel Ricciardo (13th) for the second race in a row. Both McLarens failed to finish.
Last year’s event at the Red Bull Ring was the first Austrian Grand Prix in 11 years. The circuit, then named the A1 Ring, had previously hosted the event between 1997 and 2003 and its layout remained the same upon its return. It is a medium-to-high downforce circuit, featuring four straights connected by three tight right-handers and a twisty infield section.
Pirelli have chosen their soft and supersoft compound tyres for a third consecutive Grand Prix, mirroring their selection for last year’s race in Austria. Weather forecasts suggest that there is likely to be rain at the circuit on both Saturday and Sunday.
Mercedes can be expected to achieve their seventh victory in eight races this year at the Red Bull Ring. However, the odds on Hamilton are far from attractive and while Rosberg did win last year’s race, he has often been outclassed by his team-mate this season.
Williams locked out the front row of the grid and finished third and fourth at last year’s Austrian Grand Prix. Bottas led home Massa to take the final podium place on that occasion and comes into this year’s event having secured his first top-three finish of the season in Canada last time out following top-six finishes in four of the previous five races.
Williams started 2015 down on pace relative to Mercedes and Ferrari, but they have improved steadily from race to race and are confident that their new upgrade package for Austria will see them pull level with the latter team. Their hopes of doing so will be aided by the fact that the circuit is well-suited to the major strengths – power and traction – of their car.
Bottas has finished ahead of Massa in five of the seven races so far this season and can be fancied to pip both his team-mate and the Ferraris to a podium finish on Sunday.
Force India showed very solid pace in Canada. Both of their cars qualified in the top 10, while Hulkenberg finished eighth in the race. This year’s chassis has not been quite as quick as its predecessor but the team have still run well at certain circuits, with at least one of their drivers scoring points in five of the seven races to date.
Force India displayed good pace at last year’s Austrian Grand Prix, qualifying 10th and 11th before penalties and finishing sixth and ninth, with Sergio Perez setting the fastest lap of the race. Their Mercedes power unit will provide them with a key advantage over the Renault-powered Red Bulls and Toro Rossos and could again see them in points contention.
Hulkenberg will be high on confidence after winning the Le Mans 24-Hour race for Porsche last weekend. He can be fancied to secure his second consecutive points finish on Sunday.
McLaren have only been able to get both of theirs cars to the end of a Grand Prix on one occasion so far this season. Fernando Alonso and Jenson Button both retired due to exhaust problems in Canada last time out, and their chassis is likely to find itself under similar strain this weekend at a circuit that shares plenty of characteristics with the Montreal track.
With the odds as they are at the moment, it is possible to back both McLaren’s not to finish on an individual basis and come out with a profit if just one of the two doesn’t make it to the chequered flag. To us, that looks like a good opportunity. Here are our Austrian Grand Prix preview’s betting suggestions:
F1 Austrian Grand Prix Preview’s Betting Tips
- Back Valtteri Bottas to finish on the podium @ best odds of 7/2 with William Hill.
- Bet on Nico Hulkenberg to finish in the points @ 10/11 with Ladbrokes or William Hill.
- Back each of the two McLaren’s (Alonso & Button) not to finish as individual, even-staked bets @ 6/4 apiece with Bet365, Betfred, Ladbrokes or Coral.