Mercedes winning start to 2019 came to an end at the Austrian Grand Prix at the Red Bull Ring, and it was a phenomenal performance by Max Verstappen, overcoming a poor start to come back through the field to claim an exhilarating victory for Red Bull Racing-Honda, the sixth of his career, and is the best-placed driver behind the two Mercedes in the standings heading into Round 10 of the 2019 FIA Formula One World Championship, the 2019 British Grand Prix at Silverstone.
Lewis Hamilton (197 points) remains the leader of the championship by 31 points over his teammate Valtteri Bottas (166 points) despite his worst result of the season, finishing fifth, 22.805 seconds behind race winner Verstappen, at a circuit Mercedes expected they would struggle at, but will be looking to bounce back quickly at his home race this weekend, a race which he has won five times (2008, 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017), and if Hamilton wins this weekend, he will become the first driver to win the British Grand Prix six times!
While for Bottas, he needs to win this weekend to really start asserting some serious pressure onto Hamilton as far as the world championship is concerned as he hasn’t won since Round Four in Azerbaijan, and if the general trend continues, you feel like his chances of winning his first world championship will start slipping away.
Verstappen (126 points) is third in the championship after his first race victory of the season, defeating Charles Leclerc in the final laps after being behind his teammate Pierre Gasly in the initial laps of the races, who Verstappen later lapped in what was arguably the drive of 2019 so far, and will surely have opportunities for another win or two as the season progresses.
Sebastian Vettel (123 points) is fourth in the world championship for Ferrari, narrowly behind Verstappen after experiencing some mechanical issues in qualifying at the Red Bull Ring, forcing him not to take part in Q3, and costing him the opportunity to grab pole position, and maybe control the race in Austria in what was Ferrari’s best chance to take victory since the missed opportunities in Canada and Bahrain.
Vettel’s teammate Leclerc (105 points) is in fifth in the championship after finishing second at the Red Bull Ring, being passed by Verstappen in the final laps to narrowly miss out on what would have been his first race victory in Formula One. Surely, his time to convert is near, but I am not sure if it will be this weekend.
Behind the dominant Top Five in the standings, Verstappen’s teammate Gasly (43 points) is sixth after another disappointing performance in Austria, and really needs to improve if he wants to be competitive with his teammate at the back-end of the season.
Carlos Sainz Jr. (30 points) is seventh in the championship for McLaren-Renault, ahead of teammate Lando Norris (22 points), and Alfa Romeo Racing-Ferrari driver Kimi Räikkönen (21 points) after all three scored points at the Red Bull Ring, while Daniel Ricciardo (16 points) remains inside the Top 10 in the world championship despite finishing 12th at the Austrian Grand Prix in his struggling Renault.
In terms of the Constructor’s Championship, Mercedes (363 points) still dominate Ferrari (228 points) to the tune of 135 points, while Red Bull Racing-Honda (169 points) remain in a lonely third. However, it is a tighter battle behind, although McLaren-Renault (52 points) are pulling away from Renault (32 points) in the battle for fourth, but it looks set to be a colossal battle for sixth between Alfa Romeo Racing-Ferrari (22 points), Racing Point-BWT Mercedes (19 points), Scuderia Toro Rosso-Honda (17 points), and Haas-Ferrari (16 points), while Williams-Mercedes (zero points) continue to struggle in 2019.
So, who is going to win the 2019 British Grand Prix?
We all know that Silverstone is a really fast, exciting, traditional race track, and while there are some straights and flat out sections that should suit the Ferrari, I think there are more than enough corners to give Mercedes the advantage, and with that, I think Lewis Hamilton will claim the British Grand Prix for a record sixth time, and for the fifth time in the last six years, but I think Ferrari could potentially give him and Mercedes a run for their money!
Maverick Viñales claimed Yamaha’s first race victory of 2019, and their first since the 2018 Australian Grand Prix by winning last weekend at Assen, while for his teammate Valentino Rossi, it was another shocking race, crashing out and taking out Takaaki Nakagami, making it a third-straight Did Not Finish, and you have to wonder if the seven-time premier class world champion, and nine-time world champion across all classes is thinking about retirement, or at least his future within the sport.
However, it was another podium finish for defending world champion Marc Márquez, his seventh of the season after finishing second at the Dutch TT, but will be aiming for a 10th-straight victory across all classes, and his seventh victory (all in a row, which would be a German Grand Prix record for wins in a row in the premier class) in the premier class at the Sachsenring, and move to within one of Giacomo Agostini’s eight German Grand Prix victories in the premier class at the 2019 German Grand Prix, Round Nine of the 2019 MotoGP World Championship.
Márquez (160 points) leads the championship for the Repsol Honda Team by 44 points over Mission Winnow Ducati rider Andrea Dovizioso (116 points), who struggled at Assen, finishing only fourth, and you sense it will be another race of damage limitation in Germany for him and his teammate Danilo Petrucci (108 points), who is third in the standings after finishing sixth last weekend.
Team SUZUKI ECSTAR rider Álex Rins (101 points) is fourth in the world championship after having his run of 16-consecutive race finishes come to an end, crashing out of the lead of the race on Lap Three to see his slim championship hopes really start to slip away.
Behind the Top Four, there is a good scrap for fifth in the championship between Rossi (72 points), Petronas Yamaha SRT rider Fabio Quartararo (67 points) after a second-straight podium finish in an impressive rookie season, also becoming the youngest rider to start on pole position in consecutive races, Viñales (65 points), and Jack Miller (60 points) from Alma Pramac Racing, who finished ninth in Assen, his worst performance when he has finished a race in 2019.
Red Bull KTM Factory Racing rider Pol Espargaró (60 points), and LCR Honda’s Cal Crutchlow (52 points) complete the Top 10 in the world championship.
So, who is going to win at the Sachsenring?
You cannot go past Marc Márquez to win for the 10th-straight year across all classes, and for the seventh-straight time in the premier class in Germany, but he will have the lessons of what happened at the Circuit of the Americas firmly at the front of his mind. Behind Márquez, I think that Fabio Quartararo and Álex Rins will be in the best position to complete the podium before MotoGP heads off on its mid-season break.
Lewis Hamilton has claimed his sixth race victory of 2019, and his fourth win in a row at the French Grand Prix in what was Mercedes sixth one-two finish of the season, and had extended his lead over his teammate Valtteri Bottas. And with Ferrari failing to fire once again, can anybody stop Hamilton from winning his sixth world championship, and from moving to within one of Michael Schumacher’s record of seven world championships?
That is the questions that all of Hamilton’s rivals will be trying to answer this weekend at the 2019 Austrian Grand Prix at the Red Bull Ring, Round Nine of the 2019 FIA Formula One World Championship.
Hamilton (187 points) leads by 36 points over Bottas (151 points) after a near faultless performance. Pole Position (for the 86th time), race victory (the 79th of his career), led every lap of the race (for the 18th time to move to within one of Ayrton Senna’s record of 19). However, he did miss out on taking the fastest lap of the race, which would have given him his sixth Grand Slam of his career, and would have moved him into outright second behind Jim Clark for most Grand Slams.
However, despite this, you feel like Hamilton is starting to hit top form, and with some races that he loves coming up, most notably the British Grand Prix (Round 10), and the Hungarian Grand Prix (Round 12) within the next month and a half, you sense he could take full control of the 2019 championship.
Meanwhile, Bottas has got to lift if he wants to be any hope of defeating Hamilton, and winning his first world championship, but right now, you feel that Bottas is right at the maximum of his capabilities, and would need misfortune to hit Hamilton hard if the current trend is to be flipped on its head!
Sebastian Vettel (111 points) is third in the championship after Ferrari failed to overturn his penalty in Canada, and after a sub-par qualifying performance (7th), managed to came home in fifth over a minute behind Hamilton, but snatched the fastest lap (the 37th of his career) from Hamilton on the final lap of the race to salvage something on what was a hugely disappointing weekend in so many ways for Vettel.
Max Verstappen (100 points) remains in fourth in the standings for Red Bull Racing-Honda after out-performing his car again to finish in a strong fourth, but Charles Leclerc (87 points) is starting to close in on Verstappen after a second-straight podium finish for Ferrari.
Behind the Top Five in the world championship, we find Verstappen’s teammate Pierre Gasly (37 points), who just managed to scrape into the points in 10th, his sixth points finish of the year, but only three of those six have been Top Six finishes, and the questions will start to come asking whether Gasly’s performance has been up to scratch.
In my opinion, I think Gasly is performing largely to the potential of his car, but Verstappen right now is on another planet in comparison to his teammate, and if Verstappen gets in a better car than what he is in right now, he is surely capable of winning world championships!
Behind Gasly, Carlos Sainz Jr. (26 points) is seventh in the championship for McLaren-Renault after an impressive sixth-placed finish at Circuit Paul Ricard on a weekend where McLaren actually looked faster at times than Red Bull, and is ahead of Kimi Räikkönen (19 points), who finished the French Grand Prix in seventh for Alfa Romeo Racing-Ferrari.
The two Renault’s of Daniel Riccardo and Nico Hülkenberg complete the Top 10 equal on 16 points after the latter’s eighth-placed finish, and after the former’s two separate five-second penalties due to gaining advantage by exceeding track limits, and then by failing to re-join the track safely.
In the Constructors’ Championship, Mercedes (338 points) have extended their lead over Ferrari (198 points) to 140 points, while Red Bull Racing-Honda (137 points) are continuing to be left behind by Ferrari.
And, then it is McLaren-Renault (40 points) and Renault (32 points) in a tight battle for fourth, while it is a dogfight for sixth between Racing Point-BWT Mercedes (19 points), Alfa Romeo Racing-Ferrari (19 points), Scuderia Toro Rosso-Honda (17 points), and Haas-Ferrari (16 points), with Williams-Mercedes still stuck on zero points.
So, who will win the 2019 Austrian Grand Prix?
You feel that if Bahrain and Canada were good for Ferrari, and that for a large part of the weekend in Azerbaijan, Ferrari were on top of Mercedes, then the Red Bull Ring has to be Ferrari’s best chance so far to claim their first win of 2019. Sectors One and to a lesser extent Sector Two should suit Ferrari, and while the more technical final sector should suit Mercedes, you feel that Ferrari should have enough up their sleeves to claim their first race victory of 2019!
I am tipping Sebastian Vettel to claim the Austrian Grand Prix for Ferrari, just ahead of Lewis Hamilton, while it will be a tight battle between Valtteri Bottas, Charles Leclerc, and Max Verstappen for the final spot on the podium.