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Red Bull superiority to be dampened by rain? - What to expect from the Styrian Grand Prix

Red Bull superiority to be dampened by rain? - What to expect from the Styrian Grand Prix

F1 News

Red Bull superiority to be dampened by rain? - What to expect from the Styrian Grand Prix

Red Bull superiority to be dampened by rain? - What to expect from the Styrian Grand Prix

The races are starting to come thick and fast after the slightly spread-out start to the 2021 F1 season and my goodness won't Red Bull be happy.

The ability to get straight back into racing after asserting themselves over Mercedes will delight Messrs Christian Horner, Max Verstappen, Sergio Perez and the rest of the Red Bull crew.

For Mercedes, a team reeling after being outclassed on track and on the pit wall by the Milton Keynes-based outfit in France last week, there is an opportunity to strike back in Red Bull's back garden after three races without a win.

There is plenty of intrigue in the midfield after last weekend's action, so here is what you can expect from the Styrian Grand Prix.

Red Bull to extend winning streak

Given the performance of the RB16B at Paul Ricard last week, it is hard to come to the conclusion that anyone other than Red Bull will win the Styrian event.

The car was fast in a straight line down the Mistral straight, whilst still performing brilliantly through the twisting sectors at the beginning and end of the lap.

With the long straights and high-speed sweepers at the Red Bull Ring, coupled with the slow hairpins that should dampen Mercedes' spirit, Verstappen will surely be confident of extending his championship advantage over Lewis Hamilton.

There will be an opportunity for Perez to perhaps show he can battle with Verstappen directly, with the short, 10-'corner' track layout favouring tighter lap times.

What's worse for Mercedes is this is the first of a double-header at the circuit so the team will have to get the weekend off to a fast start.

Bottas to come out fighting with a point to prove

We all heard Bottas' outburst on team radio last weekend, criticising the strategy given to him and unleashing frustration at not being allowed to follow what he believed was a perfect option for a switch of pit-stop plan.

What was disappointing, however, was the Finn's flimsy defence of position against Verstappen when Mercedes needed him to battle the most.

With such a strong statement of intent from Bottas, he must now attack this weekend hard in order to prove he is as strong on track as his words seem to portray.

You can bet if a Red Bull attacks from behind, then there will be some robust defending from the 31-year-old. With his F1 future on the line, he has no choice.

McLaren to take advantage of Ferrari tyre struggles

What on earth happened to Ferrari in France? Tyre graining, that is what. And whilst the issue shouldn't be as bad at the Red Bull Ring this weekend, the faster sweepers in the second half of the lap will not help the Scuderia with its front-tyre problems.

Cue an opportunity for McLaren to stamp its authority on the race for third place in the constructors' championship.

With Lando Norris in the form of his life, extending his strong start to the season by finishing fifth at Paul Ricard and returning to the venue of his first F1 podium, there is every reason for McLaren to be bullish.

Daniel Ricciardo looks to have got his act together after an encouraging performance in France to give the Woking outfit confidence heading into the bulk of the season.

What McLaren does need to do, though, is smarten up in qualifying as on occasion it has struggled over one lap this season.

The issue for Ferrari is that it is fairly straightforward to overtake at this circuit, so even if the red cars do outqualify those in papaya, recent race pace suggests there will be little to stop Norris and Ricciardo from surging by.

Alonso to continue fine return to form

There would have been people questioning Fernando Alonso's comeback to F1 given his early-season struggles.

Esteban Ocon was comfortably ahead of the two-time champion in the opening races but the Spaniard has rolled back the years in the past two grands prix.

Fine form in France for points, married with sixth in Baku after a surge during the two-lap sprint race at the end, means Alonso sits just outside the top 10 in the drivers' standings.

WIth the point-and-squirt nature of the Red Bull Ring, early weekend confidence should be easily attainable and set up another strong performance from Alonso.

The question still remains, though, given the inconsistencies from Alpine, as to where it actually ranks in performance terms to the rest of the midfield.

Weather forecast to flip formbook completely

The weather forecast for the Styrian Grand Prix looks rather damp. In fact, worse than damp.

Thunderstorms are expected across the weekend, potentially nullifying all expectations pre-event.

When the rain arrived during qualifying at this event last year, Hamilton blew the competition away to take pole by over a second and will no doubt be crossing his fingers for a similar opportunity this weekend.

We have seen the chaos rain can cause already this season, so perhaps there is a rare point-scoring opportunity for Williams and Haas, especially if retirements play a part.

Antonio Giovinazzi has historically run well in Spielberg, scoring on two visits of his three in F1. A top 10 for the Italian would be a great gift for Alfa Romeo, which celebrates its 111th birthday this weekend.

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