Mercedes have won all eight races in the 2019 Formula One season to date and are in touching distance of an all-time record ahead of this weekend’s Austrian Grand Prix (Race: 9.10am ET Sunday).
Lewis Hamilton’s easy victory in France two weeks ago was Mercedes’ 10th consecutive win. That is a run that includes their wins in Brazil and Abu Dhabi at the back end of last season. They can equal the record of 11 set by McLaren in 1988 with another on Sunday.
Mercedes were dominant in France. Hamilton and teammate Valtteri Bottas locked out the front row in qualifying and then Hamilton cruised to an untroubled win on race day. Bottas held off a late challenge from Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc to secure the team’s sixth one-two finish of the year. They are already 140 points clear in the constructors’ championship.
Ferrari’s upgrade package didn’t deliver the gains they were hoping for. While Leclerc took third, Sebastian Vettel finished fifth, behind the Red Bull of Max Verstappen, after engine problems hindered both his qualifying and race. He did, at least, claim the fastest lap of the race, and the point that comes with it, after pitting for fresh rubber late on.
Mercedes are unlikely to have quite such a comfortable time of it this weekend. The Red Bull Ring in Spielberg is a short circuit consisting of two long straights, two medium-sized ones and a series of connecting corners, three of which are just quick flicks of the steering wheel. It is a set of characteristics that should allow Ferrari to get a bit closer to them.
With that said, it is still a circuit at which Mercedes have gone extremely well since its return to the calendar in 2014. They won all four of the races between 2014 and 2017, including two one-two finishes and two lockouts of the front row in qualifying. Last year, they again qualified first and second, only to suffer a double non-finish due to mechanical issues on race day.
That isn’t something that often happens to Mercedes, only three times since their return in 2010. Unless similar misfortune befalls them this weekend, they remain the favorites for victory. Hamilton hasn’t always had the better of his teammates in Austria, taking just one of Mercedes’ four consecutive wins there. He now looks to have the upper hand on Bottas and so can be fancied to top the pile in both qualifying and the race.
McLaren had an excellent weekend in France. They qualified fifth and sixth, and Carlos Sainz and Lando Norris then finished the race sixth and ninth respectively. It would have been even better had a late hydraulic issue not seen Norris lose a couple of places on the final lap. Alfa Romeo’s Kimi Raikkonen and Renault’s Nico Hulkenberg pushed past to claim seventh and eighth. Pierre Gasly took the last point after another below-par drive for Red Bull.
Haas were way off the pace in France, qualifying 15th and 16th and getting nowhere near the points on race day. They have so far found it difficult to convert what looked like excellent pace in pre-season testing into a significant points haul. After finishing fifth in the constructors’ championship last season, they find themselves down in ninth.
They can, though, be expected to go well this weekend. Haas are taking nothing for granted until they see how things go on the first day of practice on Friday. The Red Bull Ring should, in theory, be a track where they will have less problems finding the right operating window for the Pirelli tyres. That is something that has been a struggle for them all season.
Last year in Austria, Haas secured what remains the team’s best-ever points haul after Romain Grosjean and Kevin Magnussen came home fourth and fifth respectively. Grosjean had finished sixth the year before, and seventh the year before that.
If everything comes together for them this weekend, another top-six finish for Grosjean certainly isn’t out of the question.
It might also be worth backing Grosjean’s teammate Magnussen to produce a top 10 finish. Haas’ poor performance in France was described as the team’s worst weekend in their four-year history by team principal Gunther Steiner. In combination with promising showings from Renault and McLaren over the last two Grand Prix, odds at the top offshore betting websites have lengthened to a somewhat attractive level that Magnussen will take points on Sunday.