Austrian Grand Prix 2016 Preview: Start Time, TV Info, Weather, Schedule, Odds
After visiting Baku, Azerbaijan, for the first time, the Formula One circus returns to more familiar territory this weekend for the Austrian Grand Prix at the Red Bull Ring in Spielberg.
Lewis Hamilton won in Monaco and Canada, but his Mercedes team-mate, Nico Rosberg, put an end to his short streak at the European Grand Prix in Baku. The German has also won both races since the series returned to Austria in 2014, and the Mercs are the firm favourites again at the high-speed circuit formerly known as the Osterreichring and A1-Ring.
The other Mercedes-powered cars should also be strong on the Red Bull Ring's long straights. In fact, it is one of just three tracks where a team other than Mercedes has been on pole since the start of 2014—Williams' Felipe Massa at the 2014 race.
But while Williams have slowly fallen away from Red Bull and Ferrari in front, they are starting to come under pressure from Force India behind them. Force India have outscored Williams 45 to 25 over the last three races and should be strong in Austria, as well.
Keep reading for a full race weekend preview, including TV times, current championship standings, a circuit map and guide, tyre and DRS information, weather forecast, odds and session times.
With his win in Azerbaijan, Rosberg put a bit more breathing room between himself and Hamilton. Meanwhile, Ferrari's Sebastian Vettel is keeping in touch with the Silver Arrows and is just 21 points behind the Briton following his second-place finish in Baku.
Here are the top 10 drivers heading into the Austrian Grand Prix:
Mercedes are still well ahead in the constructors' table, but the midfield battle is quite interesting. Force India have two podiums in the last three races and are pulling away from Toro Rosso and McLaren, and they now have Williams and fourth place in their sights.
Here is the table for the constructors' championship:
Red Bull Ring
The Red Bull Ring is just 4.326 kilometres in length, meaning the grand prix is run over 71 laps. Among current F1 circuits, only Monaco, Mexico and Brazil are shorter than the Austrian track.
Check out the official F1 circuit guide video to see a lap from the drivers' perspectives.
Turns 1 and 2
From the start-finish line, the cars climb uphill to the first turn, a 135-km/h right-hander. Then, it is a long blast, uphill again, to Turn 2.
This is one of the few big braking zones on the circuit, as the cars slow from more than 320 km/h to approximately 85 km/h for the corner.
Turns 3 and 4
The straight between Turns 3 and 4 features the first DRS zone of the lap, making it a prime overtaking spot. The cars will reach more than 330 km/h on the straight before braking to about 115 km/h for Turn 3, a sharp right-hander.
Turn 4 is a sweeping right-hander that falls away as the cars come back down the hill, accelerating out of Turn 3.
Turns 5, 6 and 7
Turns 5 and 6 are back-to-back quick, sweeping left-handers, taken at approximately 175 km/h and 185 km/h, respectively, as the track continues to wind back downhill. Turn 7 is a flat-out kink immediately following the exit of Turn 6.
"I love the two fast corners to the left on the infield, which makes it very interesting, and also the last part when you enter into a very high-speed corner after the back straight, followed by a banked corner," Esteban Gutierrez said, per Haas' race preview. "It's pretty nice to go through there."
Turns 8 and 9
The last two corners are tricky, downhill right-handers. The first is taken at more than 200 km/h and the second at approximately 160 km/h.
The pit entrance is on the right, immediately following the exit of Turn 8, while the exit is just after Turn 1.
Rosberg, you might recall, spun at Turn 9 on his final qualifying lap last year, handing pole to Hamilton (who had spun earlier on his last lap).
"Spielberg has really nice green scenery and its track is quite a fast one," Felipe Nasr said, per Sauber's race preview. "The last two corners before the start and finish line are my favourites, as they are very quick and you have to drive them very precisely."
All circuit data is from the FIA's race preview.
Austrian Grand Prix Tyres and DRS Zones
Pirelli are bringing their three softest tyres to Austria—soft, supersoft and ultrasoft—the same combination as Monaco and Canada.
Mercedes, Williams, Sauber, Renault and Haas have varied their tyre selections slightly between their drivers, with Hamilton, for example, getting an extra set of soft tyres, compared to Rosberg's extra set of supersofts.
The ultrasoft is the favoured tyre once again, and Renault and Ferrari have nine sets of ultrasoft tyres available for each of their drivers, the most of any team. Haas are at the other end of the spectrum, with just six sets of the softest tyre.
According to Pirelli's race preview, the track has been completely resurfaced this year, so the grip level is something of a wild card. Pirelli's motorsport director, Paul Hembery, thinks some teams might opt for two stops in the race this year, as opposed to the favoured one-stop strategy from 2015.
There are two DRS zones and two detection points at the Red Bull Ring.
The first detection point comes near the end of the long straight between Turns 1 and 2, with the activation point just after Turn 2. The second detection point is just after Turn 8, with activation following Turn 9, for the pit straight.
Austrian Grand Prix Weather Forecast
The Red Bull Ring is located more than 600 metres above sea level, per the official F1 website. The weather in the mountainous Styrian region is notoriously unpredictable, but it looks like we could be in for a rainy weekend in Spielberg.
At the time of publication, some precipitation is forecast for all three days of running, according to AccuWeather, with a high of 24 degrees Celsius on Friday, 25 on Saturday and just 21 on Sunday.
Austrian Grand Prix Odds
As ever, the Mercedes drivers are heavy favourites. If you want a long shot, though, Williams' Valtteri Bottas and Massa could be worth a look—Massa had that pole in 2014 and one of the Williams has been on the podium there each of the last two years.
The best odds available for the top-10 favourites in Austria are:
Sergio Perez was on the podium in Monaco and Baku, and he is 7-1 to do it again in Austria. Or you can get 11-1 for Nico Hulkenberg, his Force India team-mate, to finally break his career-long podium drought.
If you want to bet on more Merc dominance, Hamilton is 9-2 for a hat-trick (win from pole with the fastest lap) and Rosberg is 10-1 for the same.
Williams have had the fastest pit stop at every race this year, and the European Grand Prix was their quickest yet, at just 1.92 seconds. Mercedes and Ferrari are 5-1 to break Williams' streak in Spielberg and Red Bull are 7-1.
All odds are taken from Oddschecker and correct at the time of publication.
Austrian Grand Prix Session Times and TV Times
Here are the times for the three free practice sessions, qualifying and the race:
|Practice 1||Friday||10 a.m.|
|Practice 2||Friday||2 p.m.|
|Practice 3||Saturday||11 a.m.|
The above times are in local Spielberg time (CEST, UTC+2). You can convert the times to your local time zone using the helpful tool on the official F1 website.
In the United Kingdom, Sky Sports F1 has live coverage of all the sessions. The programming start times are as follows (all times BST):
|Practice 1||Friday||8:45 a.m.|
|Practice 2||Friday||12:45 p.m.|
|Practice 3||Saturday||9:45 a.m.|
Channel 4 will show free-to-air highlights from qualifying and the race.
In the United States, NBC has live coverage of all the sessions on various platforms, including CNBC, NBCSN and the NBC Sports app, with programming start times as follows (all times EDT):
|Practice 1||Friday||4 a.m. (Sports app)|
|Practice 2||Friday||8 a.m. (NBCSN)|
|Practice 3||Saturday||5 a.m. (Sports app)|
|Qualifying||Saturday||8 a.m. (CNBC)|
|Race||Sunday||7:30 a.m. (CNBC)|
Enjoy the race and the rest of the weekend.
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