The Red Bull Ring is like a box of tricks for Formula 1, with the drivers and teams never quite knowing if they will get an unexpected boost or blow – but a surprise is almost always in store. Favourites only exist on paper here, as the races mostly go differently than planned, but they are always exciting. That’s a very good reason in itself to be there to watch the two races in Austria.
The Red Bull Ring is different. There is nobody dominating race after race here, no clear pit strategy to follow. Not even the qualifying results can be depended on in Austria. It all makes a Grand Prix here even more exciting for the fans – and they have them twice this year:
We have found a few special features of the racing circuit:
How many stops do you need to make to win in Spielberg – 4, 2 or 1? Any of these is possible! Max Verstappen pitted once in 2018, Valtteri Bottas twice in 2019, Lewis Hamilton four times in 2016 … and they all won the race. The most promising way appears to be a one-stop strategy, which has come off five times so far.
Spielberg can be a moody beast. In 2019 it was in good spirits and let all 20 drivers who started through to the finish line. That was the only time that has happened. Just one year later, for instance, Spielberg was not feeling so charitable and as many as nine drivers were sent out of the race.
In qualifying, Spielberg appears to have laws of its own. Since F1 made its comeback to Austria in 2014, the result of qualifying has not once ended up the same on the starting grid. In seven of the eight years, drivers qualifying in the top 10 have been hit with penalties.
Okay… last year Lewis Hamilton won with a 13-second advantage. That was an exception to the rule, as races in Spielberg typically end in nail-biting fashion. The closest ever winning margin was taken by Valtteri Bottas, who got his car home a mere 0.658 seconds ahead of Sebastian Vettel in 2017. Max Verstappen took his wins with 2.7-second and 1.5-second advantages. Excitement to the very last turn is guaranteed.
Red Bull Racing, Mercedes and Ferrari – these three teams dominate at Spielberg. Since 2014 these three teams have taken all the poles, all the spots on the front row, all the wins, all the podium places and led the championship standings before and after each Austrian GP. That was the case until 2020 when a driver managed to break this dominance – Lando Norris was able to take third place in his McLaren! That’s as close as anyone else has come though…