F1 2021: 5 Drivers who Need a Good Austrian gp today
After winning the French and Steiermark Grands Prix from pole, Max Verstappen clearly starts as the favourite to win the 2021 Austrian GP, having captured his first hat-trick of pole positions in Formula 1. This is going to be a race which should the young Dutchman win, will mark his fourth victory at the famous Styrian hills-bound Spielberg circuit. More importantly, it would mean a show of absolute dominance by a Red Bull driver at the Milton Keynes-based outfit’s home race event.
Though in order to do so, Max Verstappen will have to defy the staunch attack of a driver who always gives his hundred percent in a duel, not Lewis Hamilton for a change; but young Lando Norris who starts from a career-best qualifying position of second on the grid.
So what we shall get to se in the next few hours will hopefully be a mouth-watering prospect of seeing two young forces of Formula 1 getting embroiled in a close duel, but what about the rest?
That being said, which drivers failed to impress on Saturday and therefore, must deliver a strong Austrian GP today?
For someone so habitual of finishing at the top step of the podium, one Grand Prix after another, it’s honestly hard to believe that Lewis Hamilton hasn’t won a single race in the last five contests. Another failure to win a race today at Austria would mean that this will be the only occasion in the turbo-hybrid era of Formula 1 where a giant has been defined a victory for five consecutive occasions.
Though what must be hurting Hamilton, who just hours ago, signed a new contract extension deal with his Mercedes team (which means he will remain in the sport, at least, until 2023) would be a rather forgettable qualifying run, which yielded a fourth on the grid.
It is, therefore, absolutely essential that the great Briton fights on and salvages, at least, a podium, if a race win is out of reach.
But then, you never know what a true titan of a sport can manage- do you- especially when confronted by pressure?
Antonio Giovinazzi’s most memorable moment of the season came well over a month ago, at the famous Principality of Monaco, where the man fondly described as the ‘Italian Jesus’ scored a fighting tenth, and thus helped his outfit open its account in 2021.
Since then, while he’s shown flashes of blazing speed, managing to outperform a much experienced teammate- also his idol- Kimi Raikkonen, on race-day, however, it’s Raikkonen who’s managed to get the better of him.
Now, starting from fifteenth on the grid, having comfortably been inside the top six in the opening session of Qualifying on Saturday, the Martina Franca-born driver will be keen to cover lost ground, especially on a venue which is very close to his heart. Why? It was here in 2019, where Antonio scored his first Formula 1 points, courtesy a fighting tenth.
But he must think of doing even better as lights go out soon for the 2021 Austrian GP.
For someone who looked so strong in Saturday’s qualifying run, managing to put, if only for a few seconds, the fastest time on the sheets during Q2, before being eclipsed by Hamilton and then, Perez, respectively, Fernando Alonso will be raring to drive a strong race in the next few hours. He may not be liking his P14 a great deal, truth be told. Not someone who likes to rest on easy laurels, such as outperforming his teammate in qualifying, which Alonso did manage with relative ease on Saturday, it will all boil down to his race performance for the 71-laps that are soon to unfold.
Moreover, why Alonso needs a strong race finish is also down to the fact that he’s clearly been on song in the last few races, starting with a very strong sixth at Baku, followed by an eighth at France, before managing a ninth at the Steiermark Grand Prix, all of which clearly suggest he can do great in the Gand Prix event, further extending the advantage that Alpine currently enjoy over the likes of an Alfa Romeo, Williams, and Haas.
The simplest reason why Charles Leclerc must deliver a strong Austrian GP boils down to his last two Grands Prix results. While a P7 at the same venue a week earlier isn’t exactly disastrous, that he earned a sixteenth at the French Grand Prix supports the fact that Leclerc desperately needs a top five race finish.
Driver of the day the last week for having mounted an excellent recovery drive at the very same venue after the skirmish with Pierre Gasly, Leclerc does succeed in managing to get that extra bit out of his car at the venue. Perhaps on Sunday, he would reminisce the great battle with Max Verstappen in 2019, where he all but succeeded in grabbing a mega win.
So Forza Charles, gets deliver a cracker of a race today!
The ‘Honeybadger’ who starts his Austrian GP from thirteenth on the grid, not the most powerful qualifying performance, actually bagged a P13 in his last race, at the same Spielberg-bound serene venue.
But in order to have serenity prevail at the end of the day, Ricciardo will have to do a lot better in the race, the chances of which aren’t difficult but will be probed by several faster cars that the Australian will have to counter.
Take the example of the twin Ferraris of Sainz and Leclerc, who too will be keen to pounce on the points up for grabs. More importantly, given the fact that Ricciardo failed to finish the race the last year around, albeit to due problems with his Renault (overheating of brakes) should serve him that extra bit of motivation to contest a strong Grand Prix.