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Formula One: Austrian Grand Prix Preview, Session Times and Where to Watch?

Written by Owen Bradley

Credit: Red Bull Content Pool

Formula One returns to the iconic Red Bull Ring in Spielberg for the Austrian Grand Prix, the second race weekend in the triple header, and a sprint weekend as well.

The Circuit

Just 10 corners link this incredible track together, a circuit with a lot of overtaking zones in the opening first half of the lap, before the slightly more technical areas of the circuit come into play in the final sector.

A lap record set by Carlos Sainz in 2020 in his McLaren, a 1:05.619s - just over a minute long, means that this is a fast and flowing circuit with a plethora of overtaking zones.

The main overtaking zones will be down at Turn 1, a quick fire out of the final corner and some assistance with DRS (Drag Reduction System) on the front straight will mean that cars should be able to draw alongside one another in the first corner, however most drivers will likely wait for the second DRS zone placed on the long winding straight before the second braking zone.

Turn 3, the aforementioned second braking zone and likely the best place for racing action. The cars have a long straight with another DRS zone, and should be able to overtake down the back straight or send a move down the inside, or indeed around the outside of Turn 3.

There are many different lines to take out of Turn 3, who could forget Max Verstappen and Lewis Hamilton's battle in 2020, where Verstappen was on the defensive line, and managed to re-take his position at the very next corner, setting that move up into Turn 4, by running Hamilton off the racing line at Turn 3.

Speaking of Turn 4, this will be another hotspot for overtaking, albeit a difficult one. The track elevation declines on the exit of Turn 4, with a gravel trap on the driver's left hand side, sneaking up on the drivers quicker than most of them expect. You can expect to see drivers running wide here in qualifying, and drivers likely being pushed off the circuit here as well in the Sprint and the Grand Prix.

A medium length, flat out right-hander of Turn 5 is then immediately followed up by Turn 6, a long, winding left-hander which also has multiple racing lines. Drivers will need to be cautious, to not run one another wide on the exit of this corner and across the gravel. So long as the drivers behave themselves, this is yet another corner which will help them carry their battle all the way through these long straights and hard braking zones.

Therefore, the most likely overtaking hotspots will be in the first two sectors, a flowing opening to the circuit with as many as three DRS zones will allow for the defending driver to pick up DRS at another spot and be able to reclaim their position. We can expect a lot of hard and fast racing here this weekend.

McLaren's incredible race pace - Can they challenge Red Bull again?

It's no secret that McLaren have frequently been visiting the podium recently, particularly with Lando Norris, who secured his victory at the Miami Grand Prix a few races ago, and has been seen challenging Verstappen at the Canadian and Spanish Grands Prix most recently.

Verstappen himself said that Red Bull's dominance is "completely gone" and that the evidence can be found with his teammate Sergio Perez's poor performances. With Oscar Piastri taking a podium at Monaco in just his second season in Formula One, the odds are definitely in McLaren's favour. Our members at DIVEBOMB also voted McLaren as the current fastest package on the grid.

McLaren have been better at tyre conservation, with Norris coming on strong at the end of the Spanish Grand Prix last weekend after running longer into the race on his Soft compound tyres. They were quick in Miami, as well as Monaco and Spain - all three tracks have more technical aspects, but also some straights where the engine is able to stretch its' legs. Austria holds the potential for McLaren to have an extraordinary result. At a time where many are questioning if McLaren can mount a full championship charge, a victory at the "Red Bull Ring" would certainly increase the momentum that McLaren currently holds.

Mercedes' Momentum

With Lewis Hamilton securing his first podium finish of 2024 last weekend in Spain, and teammate George Russell's impressive pace throughout, many heads are turning the way of Mercedes as we approach the summer break.

Despite struggling earlier this year, Mercedes have been able to challenge on occasion, albeit infrequently.

At Canada, Hamilton narrowly missed out on a podium finish, with Russell taking the honours instead. This situation would then be reversed at the Spanish Grand Prix, however it appears that Mercedes have been able to achieve these results with a helping hand.

With Sergio Perez largely out of the picture during the last few races, and Ferrari having a minor dip in performance at the last couple of races - it has left Mercedes to challenge one another, and the other McLaren of Piastri. However, as we approach Austria which is a power-dependent circuit, it means the margins will likely be tighter than ever during Qualifying.

Mercedes may struggle to replicate their success over the past few rounds, but you can expect to see them challenging for the podium places and trying an alternate strategy with at least one of the cars.

Ferrari's Fluctuating results

Despite the incredible high of Charles Leclerc winning in Monaco a few races ago, Ferrari have seriously struggled to keep up with McLaren in their bid to secure more podiums and challenge Verstappen and Red Bull for more wins.

Perhaps the narrow streets of Monaco suited the car far better, where the more power-dependent circuits don't, but either way, to come from such an incredible feat, to now struggling to challenge the Mercedes' drivers, it certainly hasn't been easy on the drivers, particularly Leclerc who has been airing his frustrations a bit more frequently than we are used to seeing.

With the margins likely to be incredibly tight, nobody can be ruled out, especially in a Sprint weekend.

Session times:

Where to Watch the Austrian Grand Prix?

UK viewers can watch all the action on Sky Sports F1, or with NOW TV.

U.S viewers will be able to find the racing action on ESPN.

European and other global viewers can watch the Austrian Grand Prix on F1 TV.

Who do you think will win the Austrian Grand Prix? let us know in the comments below!


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