Styrian Grand Prix Preview: Can Mercedes beat Red Bull at their home?

The Round 8 of the F1 world championships will be held amidst the beautiful Styrian mountains of Austria for the Styrian Grand Prix this weekend.

Red Bull and Mercedes
Red Bull and Mercedes

The first seven rounds of the 2021 season have shown us that this season could be one of the most thrilling and closely contested season in recent F1 history. Red Bull have had answers to Mercedes’ pace in almost all of the races and the two championship rivals, Lewis Hamilton and Max Verstappen will come into the double header at the Styrian mountains with three wins each.

The Styrian Grand Prix will be contested from June 25-27 and to spice things, there is constant rain expected throughout the weekend. It will be Red Bull’s home grand prix and hence they will receive a lot of support from the Austrian crowd. The infamous Red Bull Ring is a track that provides perfect racing atmosphere for the drivers.

The track is a short one, with lap times clocking under the 70 secs mark. There are as many as three back to back DRS zones which enables easy overtaking. There is no slow speed corners, so the teams prefer a setup with less downforce, thus playing in the hands of the likes of Mercedes and Red Bull.

Having said that, the fight between the top will again be between Mercedes and Red Bull. Verstappen currently leads the driver’s championship by 12 points over Hamilton and would look to extend his lead over the 7-time champion.

Both Mercedes and Red Bull will be evenly matched on pace but as always, Verstappen could just have a tenth extra over Hamilton to snatch pole on Saturday but the Briton may will have an edge if it rains because of his experience. Mercedes should have better race pace on Sunday but eventually, the final strategy would be the key to determine the winner on a wet race weekend.

The mid-field battle

McLaren and Ferrari
McLaren and Ferrari

In the battle of ‘best out of the rest’, McLaren will once again be the frontrunners. They had a good outing at Paul Ricard where Norris finished P5 while Ricciardo finished P6. They will be challenged by the rest of the midfield and the pace of Alpines and Aston Martin will be a thing to watchout for in the practice seassions.

Pierre Gasly will also be a dork horse as the Alpha Tauri can be a rocketship in the straights of the Red Bull Ring. After heartbreak in France, the Tisfosi will once again be expecting a good result from Ferrari but unfortunately the SF21 isn’t particularly fast in fast corners. Although, they are expected to to do better from last week and challenge for the points.

Also read: Red Bull vs AlphaTauri: Off Road Racing; A Never Seen Extravaganza