Charles Leclerc stopped, Mercedes hates sausages: Max Verstappen (Red Bull) on Spielberg Boulevard

An “orange army” that helps take him to the Styrian mountains through the travel agency he set up himself, when his fans don’t make the trip alone. A legendary circuit (the old Ostereichring was unanimously considered the most beautiful circuit on the calendar) out of oblivion by its owner and bearing his name. And his bucket for two years, at least. Max Verstappen will once again feel at home this weekend at the Spielberg Red Bull Ring.

In 2021, the Dutchman, already a winner in 2018 and 2019, had created a void around him, dominated the 71 laps of the two opuses of the program for the Covid era, under the denominations Austrian Grand Prix and Styria Grand Prix. Rejecting Lewis Hamilton’s Mercedes at 35 seconds and then Valtteri Bottas’ at 17.

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In all, “Super Max,” as his fans call him, has won four times at Spielberg, more than on any other track. In short, he is very much at home there and his state of form at the moment does not encourage his rivals to be optimistic, as he has never lost twice in a row in 2022. However, he continues with a “defeat” at Silverstone. …

Schumacher last winner in red

And if he doesn’t have two races to throw his opponents in Spielberg’s head, he can console himself with a “sprint”. The opportunity to make new havoc … Needless to say, it feels good in this short (30 minute) mini-Grand Prix format. Ranked successively first, second and second of the three experiments launched in 2021, the ace of RB18 No. 1 was filled (eight points) during the first of the three opuses of 2022, in Imola last April. And it’s mostly where Charles Leclerc knocked out at the end of the race, and that the Ferrari machine started to go wrong. Even more terrible for the competition, Red Bull had scored 57 points out of a maximum of 58 possible, because Sergio Pérez had finished “only” third.

Ultimately, one wonders how Ferrari and Mercedes can be optimistic about their conditions. If the Squad triumphed on Sunday at Silverstone, it was with Carlos Sainz and Mattia Binotto’s team clearly no longer knowing how to win their former world number 1 Charles Leclerc, still battered by strategists in England. And in the winners of the test it is necessary to go back to 2003 to see traces of the victory of a “blonde”. Although the Monegasque, in pole position in 2019, has not come far from the perfect shot of the next day, only surpassed by Max Verstappen.

As for Mercedes, it is rather the precaution that is imposed after the euphoria aroused by Lewis Hamilton’s program on Sunday. Each circuit has its new reality, its facilities and its limitations. To tell the truth, Spielberg will not offer the comfort of Silverstone. In England, the German team was able to maximize the ground effect of their W13 like never before this season thanks to the very flat bitumen that allowed to reduce the free height on the ground to a minimum. Austria should be the opposite of all this, with its high curves on the curves, which will force Lewis Hamilton and George Russell to roll “high”.

The W13 is afraid of the tracks

“The track is one of the most aggressive in terms of shape, depth and spacing between sidewalks. The high curves sausages are also aggressive and therefore tough with the suspensions.”, Brackley recalls. It will be the same for everyone but it is to be feared that the Silver Arrow will suffer more than its competitors. Not to mention the other trap that makes the circuit special. “It has a large margin, where the slope of the track changes from side to side, such as at bend 3. the ridge of the hill, as it gains strength. A wheel rises, resulting in braking , stability and traction problems “.

This famous No. 3 bend, conducive to braking attacks, is unfortunately not the only predictable injury for the W13, which will not appreciate the difference in No. 10. This is confirmed by Toto Wolff. “In Austria, there are two curves that have not made our car happy in the past, but we are constantly learningwarned the director of the gray team on Sunday. This year, this race will be difficult to win, but we just have to be in a good place to be at the forefront of car performance. “

It remains to be seen to what extent Mercedes is able to “degrade” its W13 while maintaining the essential qualities that made it competitive at Silverstone. The key to a new three-way battle that everyone is asking for.

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