The Styrian GP, the eighth race of a season that has been truly fascinating, to say the least, is upon us. Thus far, the seven races have truly unfurled a great set of battles between Lewis Hamilton and Max Verstappen, the prime contenders for the 2021 world title. But after an absorbing set of challenges that took the F1 caravan to a globe-trotting journey from Bahrain to Italy, Spain to Monaco, Azerbaijan to France, it’s time to set afoot in the magnificent Austrian hills!
While a single Grand Prix contest is exciting enough, we have a double-header in Austria, the Styrian GP is to be followed by the Austrian GP the following weekend, which is bound to make the next fortnight spiked with ceaseless adrenaline. So what factors, in particular, could make the upcoming Grand Prix one heck of a contest?
The Hamilton vs Verstappen Show at the Styrian GP
Akin to a packed matinee show that pulls in crowds who know a major movie star is poised to excel on the big screen, the Lewis Hamilton versus Max Verstappen show at Spielberg will hopefully be the key attraction at the Styrian GP. You can almost get a sense of the boundless excitement with which the Red Bull and Mercedes fan will guzzle down the beers watching live proceedings from the very edge of the sofa, the destination to be seated at for this weekend and the next!
Last year itself, both Mercedes drivers won a round each amid the scenic Austrian hills creating the true ‘Sound of Music,’ through the screeching sounds of the engines. Though this time around, Verstappen would love to blend in the orchestra and provide some symphony of speed!
It wasn’t too exciting of an outcome for Verstappen in 2020, who first endured a DNF and then made it to the podium in the next round, salvaging a rescue drive at Spielberg. Remember, it’s a new opportunity this time around.
And while on his part, the great seven-time world champion Lewis Hamilton will enter the contest with the realization that the last he stood on the top step of the podium was back in Spain; Verstappen, who failed to excel in 2020, will see it as his opportunity to render another blow to his greatest on-track adversary.
What should, of course, help the Red Bull outfit is the advantage of driving in their home Grand Prix event, with the added plus of having a top driver in great form. It’s worthwhile to recollect that Verstappen has already secured 3 wins from 7 races, despite suffering a DNF, in the very contest which was firmly in his grasp.
He’d want to put together an excellent drive, the likes of which we saw back in 2018, which ultimately became Red Bull’s maiden victory on home turf. But the key question is, can Hamilton go as far as denying the Red Bull frontman the win at the Styrian GP?
A Chance for Alfa Romeo to Salvage Some Pride
Alfa Romeo hasn’t been in their greatest form where this year is concerned. Despite having a quality pair in the sport’s most experienced driver in Raikkonen and one with a bright future in Giovinazzi, Alfa Romeo has struggled. And the fact that as a team they’ve only been able to collect two points doesn’t cut an inspiring picture. But then again, there’s something enticing about the track and Alfa Romeo. So what is it?
Make no mistake. The Styrian GP venue was the one where one of the brightest products from the Ferrari driver Academy opened his account, scoring a fighting tenth at the 2019 race to finally get going.
And while Kimi, who along with Giovinazzi suffered a woeful run in the previous race, the duo would be keen to pounce on any chances whatsoever at marching forwards at a track that sides with straight-line speed. As for the strategy part, it’ll be interesting to see what the Fred Vasseur team will have in play should they undercut their staunchest midfield rivals in Alpha Tauri and Aston Martin, or should they continue with the mega first stints, the kinds of which we saw at France and Baku?
The Battle to Watch Out for at the Styrian GP in the Midfield
Lando Norris and Charles Leclerc. Two drivers in whose bright talent rests the future of a sport whose middle name is thrill. Last year around, it was a close fight to the checkered flag between Leclerc and Norris that made headlines at the Styrian GP. To this day, one cannot possibly overlook the mastery the young McLaren driver showed in passing even Perez, then with Racing Point seconds before the completion of the race.
This would birth the legend of “Last Lap Lando!” To make the midfield slugfest even more interesting this year, the two drivers could find great contest from the likes of an in-form Fernando Alonso and his protege, Carlos Sainz Jr.
What we could eventually see at the 2021 Styrian GP might well be an intricate four-way midfield battle between the likes of Mclaren, Ferrari, and Alpine.
A Chance for Vettel to Strike Big Again?
It’s not for nothing that Formula 1 is called the most unpredictable of all racing forms. It can be heartbreaking one day and glorious the very other. So how’s that? The very driver who, at one point in 2020, saw no further future in Formula 1, having been shown the red door at Ferrari, today finds himself as the go-to man leading the charge at Aston Martin.
The brilliant podium finish at Baku made Sebastian Vettel the darling of the media, and once again, a steady contender who reminded detractors that it’s far from over where it concerns the iconic German.
At the upcoming Styrian GP, Vettel could position himself up into another fantastic point finish on a track where he’s previously been on the podium. Moreover, he could pose yet more threat to the likes of Daniel Ricciardo. How? Vettel’s been inching ever so closer to Ricciardo (currently P9 on the standings with 34 points), whom he trails by just four points.
Featured Image Credits to Embed from Getty Images