with Lewis Hamilton, hoping for a three-way match

Ahead of this season’s eleventh 22 Grand Prix in the green mountains of Styria, Verstappen is guaranteed to finish halfway through the season. The reigning champion is 34 points ahead of his teammate Sergio Pérez and 43 ahead of Leclerc. Hamilton is 6th with 88 units.

Can Mercedes compete?

Will we finally have a threesome? After ten races dominated by Red Bull (seven wins) and Ferrari (three), Mercedes hopes to turn its podiums (three for Hamilton, three for George Russell) into success.

The car, born of a unique aerodynamic concept – with narrow sidepods – has put its two British drivers in a bad position since the beginning of the year, behind 5th (Russell) and 6th (Hamilton).

But in England last week, the Silver Arrows introduced new developments. which gave them a vision of victory.

Although Russell gave up from the start, sending Zhou Guanyu’s Alfa Romeo making a violent waltz, the other car driven by Sir Lewis almost returned the star mark to its former glory. Hamilton first met this season in wrestling, before finishing 3rd.

In the absence of an eighth world title, far away, a 104th victory now seems more accessible.

Still, Spielberg is not a Mercedes track, as Austrian team boss Toto Wolff reminds us: “It’s a very different circuit from Silverstone, which hasn’t always gone well for us in the past.”

Unlike the fast corners of England, the Austrian circuit, with its “slow” turns, is not necessarily the cup of tea for Mercedes, which has only won twice in six races since 2018 in the land of the ‘strudel.

Why is Verstappen Spielberg’s favorite?

The head in Austria is Verstappen. Spielberg is his most successful circuit with four hits from his 26 F1 victories.

Needless to say, the circuit is called … Red Bull Ring. Home to his Austrian team, the track holds no secrets for him. The perfect opportunity to recover from technical problems and a 7th place finish at Silverstone. Especially because a speed race is scheduled for Saturday, with bonus points in play.

In the stands, Verstappen will still be carried by the thousands of fans of his “orange army”, ready to invade all the campsites in the area.

At 24, “Mad Max” can propel itself to mid-season toward its second title. Especially because the batsman has a plan: “It could stop in 2028,” at the end of his contract, he told the Dutch newspaper De Telegraaf.

If he gets a clear round by then, Verstappen would have eight titles in his name … One more than the record of Michael Schumacher and Lewis Hamilton.

Can Leclerc count on Ferrari?

Charles Leclerc, 4th at Silverstone, took six points from Verstappen. It is an understatement to say that the Monegasque is not satisfied.

In Britain he led the race and could hit a big shot. But when a safety car arrived, and unlike his teammate Carlos Sainz or Hamilton, Leclerc was not pitted. His worn-out hard tires made him lose the lead, although a heroic defense offered anthology passes against Hamilton and Perez.

“If he had stopped, our opponents would have done exactly the opposite and would have won positions,” said Mattia Binotto, head of the team as best they can.

The natural leader of Ferrari sees his Spanish teammate, winner of his first GP last week, return to 11 points.

However, Sainz had distinguished himself rather by his repeated mistakes while Leclerc more than once shone for his mastery: without Ferrari’s engine problems, he would have won in Spain and Azerbaijan, and the failed strategy of his team. it had already cost him the victory in Monaco.

His last victory, in Australia, dates back to three months ago: it is urgent to put an end to this bad series.

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