Round nine of the 2017 Formula One World Championship takes us to the town of Spielberg located in the picturesque Styrian Mountains of Austria.
The race is held on the 2.688-mile Red Bull Ring, known as the Österreichring and later the A1-Ring in former times, and while it’s not as big or challenging as some other tracks, the speed the cars reach more than makes up for any lack of drama. For example, last year’s pole was set at an average speed of 142mph.
It takes just 68 seconds to complete a lap as each lap contains just nine corners—the fewest of any circuit on the calendar—and four straights. The surface at the Red Bull Ring is low in grip and abrasion, with the track getting progressively quicker as the weekend goes on.
Even though the surface is still relatively new, it’s quite bumpy in places which can make it difficult to find consistent grip. Pirelli has nominated its soft, supersoft and ultrasoft compounds for the weekend.
This year, we’re likely to see some rain during Sunday’s race, which could also affect grip. The weather forecast calls for an afternoon storm and a top temperature of 84 degrees F (29 degrees C).
After Friday’s practice, less than four-tenths of a second covered the top five cars, meaning we should be in for a very tight race. The quickest was Mercedes AMG’s Lewis Hamilton followed by Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel and Mercedes’ other man, Valtteri Bottas.
Going into Saturday’s qualifying session and Sunday’s race, Vettel leads the 2017 Drivers’ Championship with153 points. Hamilton is second with 139 points and Bottas is third with 111 points. In the Constructors’ Championship, Mercedes leads with 250 points versus the 226 of Ferrari and 137 of Red Bull. Last year’s winner in Austria was Nico Rosberg driving for Mercedes.